Authors often solicit opinions from beta-readers--folks who read and comment before the book's published. Thing is, different readers have very different opinions! Who's right? Which comments need to be heeded?

In my own experience, with my pre-publication edition of Notes from An Alien, I'd have to say all the readers are right and I must "heed" all the comments.

All the readers are right because they're giving their own thoughts and feelings and, even if they're lying, that's their response and it's "valid"--not necessarily right, but valid, since any author will get a certain percentage of feedback that's what the reader thinks the author wants, not what that reader really feels.

Heeding all comments doesn't mean taking action on all comments. Though, even the comments the author thinks are flat wrong can still inform them about their readers' psychology.

With my book, I've often asked someone who thought it needs major work what they think about people who say the book is just fine. The nearly invariable response is: "Go with your gut." Makes me wonder why they said the book needed work. Still, each person's opinion is completely right for them...

This whole area of reader feedback is endlessly fascinating to me. It supports my contention that every reader is re-writing a book as they read. I even wrote a post about that--What's It Like Inside When You Read A Book?

If there were some ultra-objective way to get the one, "true" reaction to a given book, there would be no individual readers and the World would stop spinning :-)

If you'd like to read my book before I publish it and give me a bit of feedback (you get a free copy), I'll give you the option of having your name (or, alias) placed in a Special Listing in the book; maybe even a two-line Bio and Web address :-)

Have any experience in this area of human endeavor? Do, please share in the comments!


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