INSULTING! “Can you send me a free critique of my short story/article/poem/book manuscript?”

INSULTING! “Can you send me a free critique of my short story/article/poem/book manuscript?”

THE FALL, 2021 24-HOUR SHORT STORY CONTEST IS THIS WEEKEND!! Our fall contest is the most popular one each year. Only 500 participants permitted so DON’T DELAY IF YOU WANT TO PLAY!!


I often received unsolicited articles, short stories, poems, marketing materials, website text, back cover text (for books), and even entire book manuscripts that aren’t being submitted to us for publication. They are sent by writers who are looking for someone to critique their work…FOR FREE.

While it would be awesome if I had infinite hours to give people free services like that, I simply do NOT. I’m too busy running a business, homeschooling our youngest child, and living the rest of my life (laundry, cooking, appointments, church work, gardening, etc.).

I admit I get a bit miffed that so many people assume that I will drop everything, and spend several minutes to several hours reading their work, and giving them a list of things that are good and not good, and details about how they can improve their writing. Some of them are downright rude. They don’t ask. They TELL me to read their work, and send them feedback. They act like they’re doing me a favor by asking me to work for them for free.

That would be like me taking my overflowing laundry basket to my neighbor, dropping it on her porch, ringing the doorbell, and demanding she do it for me. Pretty insulting and ridiculous, right?

When I received these requests, I tell them they should join a writing group online. There are countless ones available. And, writers can often find a local group online as well.

Some people respond, telling me they don’t want amateur writers reading their work. They claim dumb things like that they won’t get a good critique, that someone in the writing group might steal their idea or their work, etc. Some respond by demanding that I do what they originally asked. And, that’s when I stop responding to them.

If you want an honest review of your writing:

1. Do NOT ask your mother!

2. Do NOT ask any other close friend or relative!

3. Join a local writing group (you can Google “writing group” or “writer’s group” and your town or county).

or

4. Join a writing group online. There are TONS of them with their own websites and there are even more congregating on Facebook and other social media sites.

If you do that, don’t step right in, and demand people critique your work. First, contribute to the group through posts, and by critiquing other writers’ work. Only after you’ve been around awhile, and have proven your commitment to the group, should you ask them for help.

If you don’t want to do that:

5. Pay someone to critique and/or edit your work.

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