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#WritingCommunity , How do Readers Interpret Your Work? #IWSG

readers loved You Beneath Your Skin

This post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers). They usually ask an optional question to be answered, and this month’s question is

Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

To me, my work, once published, is no longer mine. While it would be a lie to say I don’t care what readers think, because of course I do, I believe that a book belongs to a reader. They paid for it, and they spent time reading it, so it is their prerogative to think exactly what they like.

When editing a novel, the reader is front-and-centre in my priorities–I try and understand whether my words actually convey the pictures, the sensory input and the emotions that I’d like conveyed. I agonize over word choices. I question each scene and paragraph, and try to weed out what I find unnecessary to the story. This might lead to many torturous drafts, over months, and often, over years.

Once the book is out in the world, though, I’m often quite zen about reader reactions: a reader would bring to a book their set of experiences and expectations, which are totally beyond my control.

Most of the feedback on You Beneath Your Skin has been positive, and I hope I’m a better writer now for taking into account the reader reactions I’ve received. The one unexpected bit was the popularity of the subplot: the relationship between Maya and Pawan. Many readers have asked for spinoffs, with the two of them leading some sort of investigative agency.

What about you? Have your readers come back with a reaction that has taken you by surprise? What reader reactions have you loved or hated?


Today is the first Wednesday of the month post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Founded by the Ninja writing female charactersCap’n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share their fears and insecurities without being judged. The wonderful co-hosts this time are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!


Are you part of nay online or offline book groups? Founded any? What is the experience like? Do you think online book groups are similar to those offline?My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is optioned to be a TV series by Endemol Shine.

It is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I’ve been delighted with positive comments and mildly surprised by negative ones. My novel is set in a cloud forest and one reviewer wrote “if I wanted to read about nature I would have bought a biology book”!;) Others said that was what they liked best – they felt like they were experiencing the environment. No two people read the same book!

  • literarylad says:

    I remember submitting a short story to a competition where the organisers offered feedback to each entrant. I was surprised that while they praised my writing, they didn’t like my submission because ‘nothing happened’. According to them, ‘A short story should always have a beginning, a middle and and end’. That’s not how I see short fiction. My piece was more of a character study. I would say creative writing can take many forms, from a traditional story format to abstract prose.

  • vishalbheeroo says:

    It’s such an interesting perspective from the point of view of a writer but would also interest me to be caught by surprise as a reader. An idea that needs to be explored. I guess from a writer’s perspective, editing is super tough and I say from a journalism point of view. I guess for novel it’s quite distinct.

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I just thought your writing of You Beneath Your Skin is delightful … I really got into the story and India … and so I do hope you’ll have lots of further success with the book … but in the meantime continue to write. It’s always delightful to read your posts and thoughts … all the best – Hilary

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!… I just let my fingers do the walking (typing/writing) and my heart do the talking, to do otherwise in order to get a positive response from everyone would not be me.. from Aesop’s fables “if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one”… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

  • Alex J. Cavanaugh says:

    Exactly – the reader comes with his own experiences and applies those to the story and characters. And he will see and feel things differently than you did.

  • Well said. I need more zen in my reactions.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It is okay not to be zen, too. We each do the best we can, really, Jacqui. Books take a lot of time and investment to write.