Avoiding Feedback Frustrations

A short time ago, I wrote about applying the "mouse view/eagle view" concept to revision. Before I make a pass through a manuscript, I've found it helpful to decide in advance what I'm looking for. Am I checking spelling and punctuation? smoothing infelicitous phrasings? or sending the main character to Gibraltar instead of the mall?

On a related note, sometimes it's impossible for your own eyes to give you guidance about next steps. In those cases, it's important to get feedback from readers -- but which ones, when, and why?

Here's some useful advice from agent Rachelle Gardner. Boiled down, she says to carefully consider why you want input from a particular person -- is she a subject-matter expert, a wide-ranging reader of your genre, an experienced writer who can step outside of personal preference to read the manuscript on its own terms?

That last criterion is important. Say you're lucky enough to find a group of writers to learn from and hang with. It's worth asking what they read for pleasure. You might find that someone who writes lovely lyrical poems for serious literary journals just can't stay with the bleak dystopia you've created in your manuscript.

Or vice versa.

It's a delicate dance. Trust your own vision -- after allowing the manuscript a tincture of time, so you can approach it with less-partial eyes. Trust input from readers, because they can't read your mind -- but pick those readers carefully.