Getting feedback on your novel is a terrifying gift. Always be grateful that someone took the time to read your work and provided you with feedback. It is incredibly valuable, assuming the feedback was constructive. Dealing with feedback is unavoidable in the writing business. And life. There are a few things to keep in mind when handling feedback if you want to keep your sanity.
Some people refer to their books as babies, and when I first started writing I did that too. But they’re not babies. They’re products that you want to sell, even if it is a product that you created with your heart. So the first thing to do is take a step back and look at the feedback objectively. You made the choice to want to be read and put yourself out there, so that means it’s business now.
Keep or Discard Pile
You are the only who knows what direction you want the novel to go in, what the important themes are or how you want the characters to come across. Keep this in mind as you process the feedback. Some things will be incredibly useful, and some things not so much. I once had someone correct my spelling even though it was correct, just British English. Sigh. But that’s nothing compared to feedback from someone who doesn’t ‘get’ your novel. If you can be objective, then it’s easy to pick out what you need and what you don’t need and that will only benefit your story. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t always be grateful. Someone still gave you their time. Thank them, ask questions if you have any, and move on.
Remember that if your overall feedback is negative or you realise that you need to change a lot, that it’s good that you find out now, rather than when you’ve queried every agent you like and they’ve turned you down. In my personal experience, the things that niggled at the back of my head were the things that beta readers highlighted as well. They confirmed my suspicions and I was so grateful that they did. It gave me the confidence to make the changes. That’s how you should see feedback. As an encouragement to make you improve your story. Every writer has had feedback and needed to change things. It’s normal. And the more you write, the more feedback you get, the better you become at writing.