There’s a lot of criticism (hopefully constructively stated) involved in the editing phases of the publishing process.
Comments and suggestions can be enormously helpful in the revisions process—they can lead to valuable discussion and insights, and it’s often possible to find solutions that satisfy both author & editor/proofread or author & beta reader.
However, “helpful” comments can also lead to a sense of discouragement and frustration when you feel like you need to change your vision to accommodate someone else’s opinion. Just as you wouldn’t expect everyone to simply rave about your book (or if you do, you might need to consider a more realistic expectation), editors and reviews shouldn’t expect an author to enthusiastically take all their suggestions and run with them. Your book won’t be for everybody, no matter how much you revise it. And you don’t need to take someone’s advice just because they offered it (whether you requested it or not). When revision suggestions start to feel like they’re asking you to compromise your authenticity instead of leading you toward it, it’s probably time to set some boundaries.
It’s okay (and even necessary) to say that you’ve reached your limit as far as revising your document is concerned. Yes, you probably want to be sure that your document is, for the most part, readable and relatable for a specified audience, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a people pleaser and accommodate every opinion and comment you receive—especially if it would detract from your primary goal, insights, and message.
Here are three responses you can use if a beta reader or editor gets pushy about their ideas:
“Thank you for your opinion, but this isn’t aligned with my vision.”
“I’ve noted your feedback, and I’m still gathering additional feedback from other [readers or editors]. I’ll need some time to review it all and make a decision regarding how to revise. I don’t need any additional input at this time.”
“I’m not sure your comments are clear to me. Let’s make sure we’re on the same page.“
If you ever feel cornered or pressured, remember: boundaries are crucial. They protect the integrity of your work, your mental wellbeing, and the relationships you’ve built. Taking a stand doesn’t mean being confrontational. It means respecting your craft, value, and vision.
So, next time you’re in a tight spot, remember: you are the author, and it’s your book.