Critique groups and beta readers are wonderful for growing your craft, whipping your book into shape before submission, and networking with other writers. But there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Take what makes sense to you–leave the rest. Don’t edit your book to suit someone’s opinion if you don’t share their opinion. It’s YOUR book.
- Not all critiques are created equal. For example, the advice of someone who reads widely in your genre may be better than the advice of someone who doesn’t.
- Not everyone will like you–or your writing. Taste is subjective. If the criticism is constructive and helpful in some way, fantastic. If not, don’t give it another thought. There are people who think John Green is long-winded, Stephen King is boring, and J.K. Rowling is unimaginative. TLDR: People be crazy.
- If you have more than one critique partner, you’ll receive conflicting advice. See #1. However, if more than one person shares the same opinion, listen up! You can still reject their advice if you disagree with it, but don’t disregard it without considering it.
- Don’t take it personally. It’s hard to see your work torn apart, but even the harshest criticism is rarely intended to hurt you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Never argue with a critique partner or try to change their opinion, but if something is confusing–or you need suggestions for how to fix the issue–ask.
- Choose a group that suits your needs. Maybe you need accountability, and sharing one chapter at a time as it’s written will work best for you. Or perhaps you’re not ready to share your work until the book is finished. Your needs may even require more than one group. I have a critique group for children’s books and another for romance.
- It’s okay to walk away. If a critique group isn’t working for you, leave (politely, of course). Find the people who motivate and encourage you.
- Don’t discount online groups or forums. My critique group for children’s books is comprised of writers I know in real life, but my romance group is made up of women I haven’t met in person–yet. Note: Inked Voices is a great resource for critique groups that “meet” online.
- Reciprocate. Users are losers.
“Don’t take criticism personally; take from it what’s useful. Apply it and move on to something better.” — Catherine Tate