How to Offer Your Authors Positive Feedback
Recognizing and affirming your clients’ strengths is one of the best ways to create a collaborative partnership, encourage their learning and boost their confidence. This comes in especially handy if you work with ESL authors, job seekers, new authors or anyone who is entering a new genre or role.
Trusting their text or important document to another professional is not the easiest step for many authors. Usually, the more advanced or experienced the author is, the more secure they feel in welcoming feedback and corrections. From their past experiences, they already know that an editor works with them in the service of their intended reader. This common goal makes them open to cooperation.
Authors who are starting to build their skills, on the other hand, may be more sensitive to feedback. In addition to being able to explain (if prompted) every edit you make, you also need to be able to recognize the strengths in every piece of writing — and take the time to point them out.
Depending on the scope of work, try to aim for one positive comment every one to three pages, so that the author is always encouraged while going through your feedback.
How to share positive feedback or praise
Affirm the value/importance of the work in general
You can write a bubble or an end comment about the author’s choice of a topic or their determination to work toward a degree, a publication, or any other goal they have in mind. Add anything pertinent from your personal background as a reader.
“I can tell you’ve invested a great deal of time and effort into the research.”
“In 2009, I taught a common syllabus focusing on climate change. My students and I were reading about and discussing the topics you are writing about in 2021. I am learning so much from your work. The scope of change during this time has been major. I enjoyed how you outlined [XYZ].”
Point out a successful detail or key concept that made sense to you
“You defined [XYZ] with great clarity. Without any specialist knowledge in the subject, I can clearly see the connections. Your reader will appreciate these definitions.”
Note strong sentence structure and state specifically what makes it good
“You used the subject-verb-object structure in this sentence, which makes it very easy to read. The verbs are strong, and the sentence flows well. The reader can understand exactly what you mean.”
Compliment the author on the logic, the sequence of ideas or the transitions between ideas
“The overall flow in these pages is excellent because you point out the logical relationships between ideas and focus each paragraph on one idea. As a reader, I am moving from concepts that are easier to grasp to more complex, interrelated ideas, while I am also allowed space to draw my own conclusions. Well done!”
Compliment the author on their work process, attitude, or collaborative skills
“It has been very easy to work with you because of your responsiveness and flexibility. Thank you for your trust and collaboration.”
How to build strong relationships
Every client is unique, and when you start working together, you will likely see the areas where they need the most assistance. Make sure that you guide them to improve in those areas by also noting anything positive they have done. The balance of corrections and praise will ensure understanding, cooperation and a solid professional relationship.
Reprinted with the permission of The Editors’ Weekly (October 5, 2021), Editors Canada, and the author.
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