Alexander R Davis
Who Is Your Designated Reader?
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
So you want to write a book, part 2
If you had a huge piece of lettuce stuck in your teeth, wouldn’t you want to know about it? In the same way, if there was something in your book that makes little to no sense, or is far from enticing, wouldn’t you want to know about that? This is exactly why you want a designated reader.
Choosing a designated reader:
When you are looking for your designated reader, there are some things you want to keep in mind. This person needs to be honest with you. You can’t pick someone who will only tell you what is good to boost your ego. Don’t get me wrong, if your piece is worth praise, then it should be praised, but you need to have both sides. If there are uninteresting, confusing, or plain bad passages in your book, then your designated reader should be someone who will point that out. This is the first major quality to look for in your designated reader, brutal honesty. They need to be willing to tell you the whole truth, not just pad your ego. Many times, it may be a good idea to find someone who you don’t know terribly well and that way they don’t have to worry so much about injuring your precious pride. Whatever the case, speak with them beforehand and make sure they are willing to be completely honest with you.
Another concept to keep in mind, is your genre. Your designated reader should be well read in your genre. So, for example, you aren’t going to ask a self-help buff to be read your fantasy novel. In kind, you wouldn’t ask a science fiction fan to read your book on biology. You want to make sure they are familiar with the genre in which you are writing.
Another good idea is to have multiple designated readers, who are both brutally honest and well read in your genre. Not only will you get more feedback, but each one could become a raving fan. When they not only get to read your work, but are involved in the process by giving feedback, they become very invested in your writing. Those raving fans can be hard to come by, so use them to begin building a strong fan base.
Working with your designated reader:
First and foremost, there are two mindsets you need to adopt. It is quite understandable that you are protective of your work, particularly if you have been working on it for some time, but this is something that needs to change. You need to adopt a mindset of consideration and openness. Whenever you get feedback from your designated reader/readers, you need to consider it, not defend against it. Even if you think there is little merit in what is being said, write down their suggestions and think them over before discarding them. Each of these suggestion is a nugget of gold, not a knife in the back.
After publishing one of my books, I had a review that was anything but flattering. They complained about capitalization and flow, they complained about other bits as well. Right then, I could have shut down and gone into defense mode. I will admit I was disappointed, but I had learned the lesson to consider the critics comments, before dismissing them. Because of this, I continued to read the scathing review. At the end, the reviewer mentioned that a section was even missing from the book. I thought the reviewer was over exaggerating and maybe just in a bad mood when they wrote the review, but I decided to reach out to them. I told them I had read the review and wanted to make my book spectacular. I then asked them where they had found the errors and they sent me a list. I was still a little skeptical at this point, because I had the book sent to an editor and gone through it myself. I looked into their list all the same. To my surprise, though they may have said it in a way that threatened my ego, all that was said, was true. I went about correcting the little things that had somehow been missed by the editor and added the section that had somehow been completely left out. That was the biggest shock. Once finished, I reached out again and both thanked them and sent the updated manuscript. Seeing I was taking their review seriously and even did something about it, that reviewer turned around and left a new review that was glowing and full of praise.
So, no matter the feedback we receive, treat it as a nugget of gold, not a knife in the back. Your designated reader/readers, are one of your greatest resources in this. If you consider each piece of advice and each critic, you will very often find truth along with ideas to improve your work. So, the first mindset to adopt, is consideration of all feedback.
Second, you need to adopt the mindset of questioning. You need to constantly be asking your designated readers for what could be changed to be better. Constantly dig deeper when they give you something. Don’t just look at the tip of the ice burg, go under the surface. Only 10% of an ice burg is typically showing, likewise, readers often won’t give you as much as they could, unless you ask them. Think of it like a treasure hunt. Your treasure is feedback and your shovel is questions. You are digging for nuggets of gold, and as the old saying goes, seek and ye shall find.
When all is said and done, we need to listen to and even seek feedback of our work. Fortunately, teaming up with some designated readers, is a perfect way of doing this. You deserve nothing less than the very best! So, give it to yourself.