Collecting Author Feedback: Great Minds … or Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

book-coverI came across a conversation on LinkedIn this morning. One author was bouncing a few book title ideas off the other members of the group. He/she wanted to know which one everyone liked better.

And this isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like that. I’ve seen other authors asking for feedback on book covers, website designs, and more.

So is this a good idea?

Reasons to Do It
What better way to utilize social media than to get feedback on things before they are finalized? Just like it makes sense to bounce baby names off of other people (they may notice something you don’t, like inappropriate initials or bad nickname combinations), it makes sense to bounce book titles off people as well. They may spot something that you don’t.

I can personally say that I’ve been the person providing that feedback/insight before. I once worked for a company that wanted to use the tagline on their site, “We’re all in this together.” Clearly, none of them had family members who watched High School Musical. Fortunately, I did. And I alerted them to this, which was honestly all I could think about as I heard that name:

Needless to say, they went in another direction. In cases like these, it’s a very, very good idea to put your ideas out there.

Reasons Not to Do It
If you think I’m convinced that every author should be doing this before titling a book, approving a book cover, or launching a website … well, I’m not. And here’s why.

Writing is, in many ways, an art form. Sure, it’s also a business. But at its core, it’s a skill and creative talent, not all that different from painting or sculpting. Do you think great artists run their ideas by the general public before finishing (or naming) their work? Probably not…

Many authors write out of inspiration. They have a vision. They have a message. Once you start questioning that vision and collecting feedback, the message begins to get watered down.

Think of it like the difference between an Oscar-winning movie and a TV movie that airs on one of the major networks: one is a true work of art (with little to no limitations) and the other is a watered down, shortened, cleaned up version. Which one is really better?

When it comes to art, there really is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen.

In Summary…
My philosophy in life is always this: do what works for you. Whether we’re talking about religion, medicine or authorship, there is no one “right” answer. Some authors may get incredible feedback by bouncing their ideas off of others. Other authors are better off following their instincts and sticking to their guns.

As with many things in life, it’s up to you to figure out which path to take.

That said, if you have any positive/negative experiences doing this in the past, please share them with us!