Tips for Responding to Harsh Feedback

Posted on April 5, 2011 by Sheena I

Throughout their careers, most freelance writers are frequently required to submit their written work for editors’ approval. For most of us, our income depends upon this approval; most articles/written pieces do not become released for payment until editors accept them. While this process is customary, it isn’t always easy or pleasant.

Firstly, editors often differ significantly in terms of requirements, preferences and personality. This makes it very difficult for a writer to determine the expectations in regard to writing style and formatting. Also, editors’ personalities vary greatly, as do their communication techniques. This causes difficulty for writers in terms of understanding how to properly communicate with editors. Lastly, some editors tend to criticize writers’ works quite harshly without showing extensive regard for writers’ feelings.

Most of us writers pour our deepest efforts into every article or content page we write; therefore, when we feel that an editor is insulting our writing abilities, we often become defensive, embarrassed, and possibly even insecure. Thankfully, I can offer tips to help every writer avoid any of these negative emotions or experiences when responding to harsh feedback.

Use Their Advice

If you have landed a job or freelance contractor position as a writer with any professional writing service provider, then you undoubtedly possess distinguishable writing and grammar skills. This, however, does not mean that you no longer need guidance or advice in your chosen field. According to most, the art of writing can never be absolutely perfected. As writers, we should always remain open to any information that may help us in honing our crafts.

This is especially true when you regularly write content for the same website. Most publisher services train a team of editors to abide by their style, formatting, grammar, and source citation rules. Editors for these types of websites generally edit similarly to one another, thus making writers’ requirements much more clear. Once you learn how to properly compose content that meets your site’s requirements, you will enjoy seeing many more of your articles pass straight through editing with no revisions needed.

Ask for an Explanation

Every writer has the right to ask for the explanation behind an article rejection if he or she does not feel the editor has adequately clarified the revisions needed or reason for rejection. Upon rejecting an article, a proofreader or editor should always be able to clearly detail why he or she rejected it.

When asking for an explanation, remember to keep your correspondence professional; try to avoid any emotional language or conveying an aggressive demeanor.

Don’t Respond Immediately

One of the best methods for reacting to harsh editor feedback is to avoid responding immediately. Upon receiving negative feedback or article rejections, most of us tend to feel upset initially. Often, after a few minutes or a few hours pass, we calm down and realize the feedback was not harsh or rude at all. Frequently, our negative emotions regarding having articles rejected or edited cause us to perceive editor feedback as being volatile.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

The word proofread is repeated three times here for a reason; writers should proofread every piece of work they write at least three different ways before submission. Firstly, read your completed articles silently to yourself and make any necessary corrections before moving on. Secondly, proofread your work aloud to catch additional mistakes. Lastly, read the article backward to catch any other missed errors.

Remember, don’t take harsh editor feedback personally. They have a job to perform just like we do, and they likely do not intend to come across as rude or aggressive. Keep in mind that communicating via the Internet removes conversation factors, such as voice and tone, that help us determine people’s demeanor and mood.

Also, if you peruse the editorial guidelines and thoroughly check your work after receiving an article rejection and still feel the article is correct the way it is, stand up for yourself. There is typically a manager that handles these types of issues, and editors’ decisions can be overturned if their rejections are determined to be unfounded.

Sheena I is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments. WriterAccess is powered by ideaLaunch.


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