Some online publications permit readers to make comments and provide feedback. As a writer, I love that feature. Feedback is valuable in all its forms. Do you love it? Hate it? Like it okay, but not too impressed? For better or worse, just say so.
One market that is very good for feedback–meaning it offers the feature and some of its readers avail themselves of it–is Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, which offers text and audio versions of its stories. Not only do some of its readers volunteer comments, reactions and ratings, but its editor, Geoffrey C. Porter, is one of those rare short fiction editors that fairly consistently provides feedback to submitting writers, whether accepted or rejected (trust me, I know–I’ve had six rejections compared to one acceptance).
I love the story Untied Shoelaces ultimately accepted and I’m happy to see that readers appreciate it. It’s a literary piece called “Seed of Doubt.” It has drawn the highest readership in its issue since the first day it was published (which might be because the pitch is good, or because of its light, 714-word length), and the comments have been, for the most part, encouraging. For instance, WS offered: “Not normally my kind of story, but this is really well done. Both authentic and accessible. Nice balance of details.” And SW (no relation to WS that I know of) said: “Nice work capturing Bobby’s internal conflict. I very much like that I’m left wondering whether she’s just some kid who wishes she had super powers, or whether she’s just told the truth.”
The most detailed comment was particularly complimentary, from Karin:
I thought this was fantastic. There were a lot of layers here — societal, emotional, even philosophical. I think there was a great use of restraint in allowing the story to unfold. It’s very easy to get carried away with the emotional component. I particularly love the line “‘I don’t feel a thing,’ she said through a swelling lip.” You can feel the girls’ pride, humiliation, and commitment to her defense mechanism. Very well done.
Thank you for those wonderful words. Of course, it’s not all rosy. Nor should it be. For instance, Scitale said, “So this little girl wishes she had the power to make the bully go away… I don’t know, this story didn’t really do anything for me.” To be honest, a lot of people might think that. The reviews are certainly mixed. But like I said, I love the story, and I’m glad some of the readers like it as well. I wish more publications would offer feedback and comments, and as to those that do, I wish more readers would use them. And readers should not worry too much about the writers’ feelings. Writers need thick skin. Be civil, of course. But well-stated honesty (including definitely comments like Scitale’s) is the best feedback a writer can get. So thank you, WS, Scitale, SW and Karin, and any all other readers providing feedback. Keep it up.