April 3, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue
As a writing noob, one of my biggest challenges so far has been getting valuable feedback. A month ago, I was stuck somewhere between the supportive, but ultimately insubstantial feedback I had gotten from the few friends I’d asked to take a look at my novel (rookie mistake, I know that now) and being desperate enough to shell out the cash to hire a writing coach or editor. I just knew there had to be something else in between those two extremes.
Finding it, though, proved much more troublesome than I expected. I was simply amazed, given the interconnectedness of the modern world and the proliferation of writers’ resources online, that I couldn’t find any single article or blog post that suggested how to connect with people who could give valuable feedback.
Are you in the same boat? Fear not, fellow blogizens! Help has arrived! Follow this simple three-step plan and you’ll be on your way to feedback heaven!
Step One: Finding the Feedback Providers:
I’ve put in the hours crawling the interwebs so you don’t have to. Here are a few places you can connect with people willing to give honest and constructive criticism to help improve your manuscripts:
- Local Writer’s Groups– You may be able to find a valuable critique partner or two in a local writing group. Now this isn’t my thing, (Live human contact? Eeeeek!) but maybe you’ll enjoy having regular meetings to attend. Try hunting for groups near you through Meetup.com.
- Absolute Write Forums– The forums at absolutewrite.com have plenty of sections where you can post to hunt for beta readers, mentors, writing buddies and more.
- Ladies Who Critique– This site hit paydirt for me. Sign up, construct a profile, and search for other writers looking to exchange critiques. The profiles make all the difference in the world. With a glance you can get a pretty good idea if a potential CP (critique partner) is in your target audience and if you would be in theirs. Two weeks after signing up, I now have 3 really awesome CPs who have given me invaluable feedback and I’m enjoying doing the same for them.
- Your blog or website– Oh hey, look! You already have an invaluable tool at your fingertips. Consider putting a link on your blog or webpage asking for critiquers. Your blog readers are already familiar with your writing so the chances are good at least a few of them would be willing to help out. This is probably most useful for getting beta readers and general feedback, but you never know. Today’s beta reader may be tomorrow’s CP.
4/4/2013 Edit: I discovered a couple a couple of other options I plan to investigate thanks to Catherine, Caffeinated’s post Structural Editing for Self-Publishers. Great article and great blog, you should check it out!
- Authonomy.com– This site is set up by Harper Collins to discover new talent. You can post segments of your work to receive feedback from readers and other writers. Now, I’m not feeling quite that brave yet, but maybe soon!
- YouWriteOn,com– This is a UK-based independent review site that appears similar in concept to Authornomy. They also have a partnership with Random House and Orion, sending the top ten highest rated authors every year to these publishers for review.
Step 2: Prepare Yourself for the onslaught:
Now this is a topic on which the interwebs has tons of resources, so I won’t reinvent the wheel.
- Determine what you’re looking for at this phase of your writing– Fellow WordPress blogger createdbyrcw has a great post on this: Receiving Feedback and I highly encourage you to check it out. He makes an excellent case for not sending your manuscript off with no direction to a critiquer.
- Educate Yourself on Critiquing– The better you understand the process the smoother it will go. Also, if you do connect with a CP, you’re going to be doing some critiquing, too! Some suggested resources:
Critiquing is not Editing by Maeve Maddox
Critiquing 101 Page on Ladies Who Critique- contains several articles on how to critique and developing good working relationships with your CPs.
A Guide on Critique by Writing Club.
Giving Feedback- The Reviewer Strikes Back– another great post by createdbyrcw.
- Determine if you want Beta Readers, Critiquers, or both– The difference is significant, so consider your options carefully.
- Remind yourself that all critique is OPINION- I am not giving you a blanket excuse to ignore anything your critiquers say that you don’t like. But it is your book, your writing and ultimately you’re the one who has to decide what advice to take and what to discard after you’ve given the critique/advice an honest evaluation.
Step 3: Profit!
Sit back, relax, fire up your laptop, and revise like a caffeinated squirrel! And good luck out there!