This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.



In the Review Tab of MS Word I Select Compare & Merge. I put two feedback documents together and choose a new document naming it–Project Title All Feedback. Then using the All FB Doc, I add another feedback doc, using the revised document bullet. I repeat until I’ve got all feedback merged into one document.

Immediate and Spontaneous Reactions

I truly enjoy spontaneous comments and my readers know this. Everything is fair game. There are surprises where something is funnier than I expected. Other things fall flat. Those comments help me see if I’ve connected or not. Every writer needs to know where they land.

Red Flag

If everyone shares a negative about a portion of the story, it’s a huge a red flag and can’t be ignored. Hopefully they are clear and precise about what the trouble is. If not, emails would be in order asking specific questions and quoting from the project as a reminder.

Green Light

Now just as Red Flags are obvious, so are the Green Lights where everyone agrees that something is wonderful. Savor those moments. Bookmark them when things get tough.

Tie Breaking

Reading two entries that contradict help me see that feedback is subjective and I’m the tie breaker. I make my decision based on where I want the story to go and what I’m trying to achieve. Again I’m thinking hard about what I should do and what my vision is for the work.

Side Note

No one gets rave after rave without criticism….. So if you are, then you need to find new readers. Your friends and family love you too much to hurt your creative feelings.

I understand this. But the consequences are you’ll never grow as a writer. Find some honest soles that will offer constructive criticism. They will fuel change, make your work better, and that is one step closer to being published.

Why One feedback document

One document is time efficient and stops me from being overwhelmed. I focus on one chapter at a timeβ€”I’m so Sagittarian it hurts.

Enthusiasm can ebb away with repetitive tasks. Mistakes get missed and we all get tired.

I guess what I’m saying is…

“Work Smarter…Not Harder” byΒ Allan F. Mogensen

Being Grateful

If the work does get published, make sure to thank everyone who took the time to help you. It takes a team to get any project out in front of readers.


65 responses to “TOOLBOX 9: MERGING FEEDBACK

  1. Thanks for the reminder about the combine feedback documents feature in Word. I’ve used it in the past, but I’ve neglected combining the documents recently. It is helpful to have all feedback in one place.

  2. Got advice and I did not know you could merge all the doc in Word like that so I learned something new lol.

  3. I didn’t know there was a way to merge them together. Thank you.

  4. Great tips if you get critiques in word docs. Most of my critique partners just comment on a printed copy of what I submit. But I still do try to compare them like you suggest.

  5. I definitely prefer to sort through my feedback manually. It’s a nice review process, and sometimes I look at all these “disparate” remarks, and really ask myself “how can/should I group these?” I find that many readers don’t “really” know what they’re trying to say, and often I find that, by looking at where they intersect, or what they’re circling, I’m able to “see” the real answer.

  6. This is a great idea! It helps keep track of the most common issues cited by your readers. What a great way to keep it all organized.

  7. Excellent advice for word doc critiques. I have a small feedback group, and I try to rotate a couple new advance readers with each project. Even so, I am very aware of common comments.

  8. Victoria Marie Lees

    “… feedback is subjective and I’m the tie breaker. I make my decision based on where I want the story to go and what I’m trying to achieve.”
    Excellent advice, Anna. Thanks so much for all this insight into writing. All best to you!

  9. Thanks for this reminder on how to get and use criticism. I liked the concept of the writer being the tie-breaker. I use the There I can get lots of feedback from people who have no vested interest.

    One tiny correction: I think you meant souls and not soles? Just a bit of feedback πŸ™‚

  10. I’ve been writing it down by hand and circling my red flag areas. This is definitely a smarter way to work harder!

  11. This is great advice! I remember going thru my beta reader feedback feeling slightly overwhelmed at how to process it all.

  12. What a useful feature, to be able to see all those comments side by side! I think I might need to get MS Word as I’m too limited with Open Office and it doesn’t have as many useful features!

  13. HAHA! I never had friends and family who would read my work. Still don’t. Not even my close friends who like to read haven’t read a single one of my stories, so I don’t have to worry about β€œrave after rave without criticism” from people I know. πŸ˜‰

    • I get the feeling that part of the post was funny. UHmmmmm. My son read one of my my works a while back and my ears are still burning. Not nice at all, what was I thinking? hehehe

  14. Great advice as always, Anna. I have merged documents with feedback with the original but haven’t merged multiple feedbacks into one. Great suggestion. Also, I love when you said you bookmark your Green Lights. I will be doing that in the future.

  15. What an informative post, especially for me, since I’m hoping to get feedback from beta readers in a few months, and I have been thinking how I could possibly read my book ten more times by then, trying to look at notes and incorporating them. So, thank you, Anna! I will come back when the time is right, to attempt merging all those Word docs. I think it’s genius that one can compare and look at the feedback all at once. Work smarter, indeed!

    As for focusing chapter by chapter, that’s what I do as well. Not sure what it has to do with being a Sagittarius, but I’m one also. πŸ™‚

    • Well, I follow my arrow after I shoot and don’t look anywhere else. It can be awful because I bump and ignore so many other things that may need my attention.

      If you have any questions when you’re ready to merge, let me know. I’ll help if I can. πŸ™‚

      • Aha! That makes sense, as in, you’re pretty single-minded. Huh… maybe I was born in the wrong month, since my head and attention is always all over the place and it is overwhelming! But, if I have something in mind, I go for it until the end! My husband could be a Sagittarius, but he’s Pisces. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the offer to help, Anna!

  16. Didn’t know about the merge feedback so thanks for sharing. Your advice about how to take feedback and when to add good critique folks is sound.

  17. Whaaaat. I didn’t know you could merge feedback. That’s great to know. Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Excellent advice. I’m bookmarking this post as there are a lot of stuff I’m not aware of we could do in word.

  19. What a brilliant useful idea! I hadn’t thought of this before and I think it will really help balance comments. Thank you so much Anna πŸ™‚

  20. Criticism doesn’t bother me. In fact, if my crit partners don’t point out enough things that are wrong with my words, I assume they were being too nice or were simply too tired to look very deep.

    My process is to go through their comments one at a time, and if I agree with them, I’ll make the change immediately in my manuscript. If I’m not sure about something, or if the required change is going to take more time than I have at the moment, I add their comment right into the manuscript in a green font and worry about it later.

  21. I’m definitely going to try your tip on merging documents — I haven’t tried that before. It will make it sooo much easier to deal with comments on my WIP πŸ™‚

  22. I’ve just added my second beta reader (always looking for more) and will practice your tips to sort and review feedback. Thanks!

  23. Great tip!

    One of my critique partners asks us to use Google docs when we critique. I can see why she does it – so she gets all the feedback in one place. But I’m not so keen on that, because I sometimes find my views on the submission are being influenced by whoever has already reviewed and commented.

    Your solution offers a great alternative – the unfiltered opinions of each reader, but all the feedback in one place.

  24. I haven’t merged documents in years, but I can see, now that you point it out, how useful this tool is in our line of work. Great post!

  25. Feedback is definitely subjective, so it helps to be reminded that I’m ultimately the tie-breaker if needed.

    I like the suggestion of having it all in one place. I’m working on that now. Great post!

  26. Good advice. Will start looking into if I can do the same with Google drive for the future.

  27. This is a great list. There is a product BetaBooks that organizes beta readers for you. It’s pretty cool and helps with this issue. Thanks for sharing your process!

  28. I retired after 23 years in 911 Police/Fire/EMT dispatch. If you set up an appointment someone will be willing to talk to you. In fact, they will probably get a kick out of it. In the US I know departments sometimes allow citizens to do ride alongs, you might to see if they have something like that.

    We also had a citizen’s police academy which was free, you might ask about something like that which would cover all aspects of the policing right down to communications. (It was part of community relations and they had to go through background checks to participate because they would be around sensitive information.) I got to teach a class on communications once in awhile for ours.

    Have fun with it.

  29. Pingback: Beta Readers | Cozy Mystery Publishing Process – Ellen Jacobson

  30. Great tips. One document for feedback definitely makes rewrites a lot simpler.

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.