How to Get an Honest Critique of Your Writing (HINT: Don’s Ask Your Mom!) By Angela Hoy

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I see it all the time in book proposals and query letters.

“My mom says my book will be a bestseller.”

“My best friend says my book will make a great movie.”

“My boyfriend says my manuscript is the best he’s ever read.”

“My dad says my article belongs in the New York Times…but I’m willing to sell it to you.”

“My sister says my article is perfect, and doesn’t need any editing. So, don’t edit it.”

“My neighbor says she’s never met a writer as good as me.”

The fact is, nobody close to you can or likely will give you an honest critique of your work. They are so concerned about hurting your feelings, or discouraging your future writing, that they will say anything to make you happy. Obtaining dishonest critiques about your work will never help you improve.

Using the types of comments above in a query letter or book proposal shows three things:

1. You aren’t confident enough about your own skills so you need someone else to “check your work” (that’s fine…but you shouldn’t talk about it to editors and publishers).

2. You don’t belong to a writer’s group (or the one you do attend doesn’t offer critiques, or has given you dishonest feedback).

3. In a nutshell, you’re an amateur. (You didn’t really think I was going to sugarcoat anything in this article, did you?)

No truly professional writer would ever quote or reference a friend or relative to try to sway a publisher or editor. Their work speaks for itself.

The same advice holds for any writing or novel contest you enter. Never respond after a loss, telling the judge(s) that your mom, neighbor, sister, best friend, etc. said your story was better than the winner(s). The judges have already made their decision and everybody knows friends and relatives don’t give honest assessments Most of them aren’t qualified to judge a writing contest, a book proposal, or a novel anyway. A book publisher, editor of a magazine, or contest judge knows their own needs/guidelines/rules better than anyone else, and knows the competition you are or were up against.

Don’t trust friends and relatives to give you honest criticism. Find a good neighborhood or online writing group and, when you ask them for a critique, tell them you need the honest truth about your writing. Ask them openly and up front not to sugarcoat it. Remind them that you’ll never get better if you don’t receive honest feedback from your peers. Even then, some of them will be afraid of hurting your feelings. However, you will find some honest, professional writers who know you need to hear the truth. Only then can will you start to become a better writer.

And, for heaven’s sake, don’t respond to negative criticism like a child throwing a tantrum, or like a martyr who’s has their feeling hurt. Thank the critic profusely for their honesty, and use that critique to grow in your craft.



About The Author

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Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).

WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.

BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."

Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.

PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!

Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.

Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)

See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.

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