Sunday, February 23, 2014

When Too Much Help Isn't Enough

"Opinions are like assholes, honey.  Everybody's got one, and everybody thinks everybody else's stinks." - Home for the Holidays (1995)

So I blew it.


You'd think, given the lessons I've learned (and blogged about) related to soliciting feedback, that I'd be better at doing it.

Apparently I'm not.

So--what have I learned about soliciting feedback?

  1. Be specific.
  2. Be clear.
  3. Expect/value opinions that don't agree with yours.
  4. Don't give feedback on feedback unless you want to end the feedback.

That was why, this time, when I sent off requests for beta readers for Elf Queen, I was very specific and clear with what I wanted, and I expected to read negative feedback.  What I ended up getting was pretty awesome, then, all things considered.  It was, in fact, perfect, and precisely what I needed. 

Yay, well done!

And then there was the other night.

I put what I've been working on for the Elf Queen cover up onto FB and asked for "feedback from my wonderful Facebook friends."  I did, in a comment immediately below the post, point out that the artwork had been done by Jessa, and I thought (without really thinking about it--you know what I mean?) that that would imply sufficiently that I'd like people to pretty much stay away from critique on the art.  Because what I was looking for, really, was feedback on the placement of the various design elements.

But did I say that I was seeking feedback on the placement of the various design elements?  Nope.  My bad.

I tried to wait it out, not giving feedback on the feedback as it came, but I knew that Jessa could see the comments roll in, too.  I stepped in a couple of times and told people that the image was pretty much exactly what I had asked for.  I felt bad doing it because I knew it would squelch the commentary in general.  Better that, though, than sitting through an episode of Jessa-bashing.

One really interesting thing to get out of the session was that nobody really complained about the parts I'd have expected to hear about if they'd sucked.  Specifically, nobody mentioned the fonts I chose, or the sizes, or the placement, or their colors.  Nobody even slammed me on the effects I used.

Hmm.  Must've been at least okay, right?

Or, maybe not--my professional graphic design friend said it looked "indie."  I got her to 'splain what that meant, and it finally made sense--text on the image without some sort of effect added to it.  That was okay; I had something in mind.  Granted, it took me a week of evenings experimenting to get it right, but now--I'm happy.

Still, point made and taken.  From now on, I shall always follow my four key points on soliciting feedback.


1 comment:

  1. Good list, and even when we are specific, we never seem to get feedback that relates to the project in any actionable kind of way.

    Yes, we are soliciting free help... and sadly... the help tends to be worth what we paid...