A friend asked what to look for in finding someone to critique her work.
If you are looking for feedback on bits and pieces of your work in progress (WIP) or various writings, most established critique groups should be a fine fit. However, critique groups are not well suited to provide a critical review of every word of an entire book. For that, you need a dedicated critique partner, also called beta readers.
Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:
- Make sure they are readers who read in your genre.
- They need to be able to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
- Make sure they don’t have an issue of their own that will snag you (such as being a frustrated, unpublished writer or someone who talks about writing but never actually does it).
- They need to have the time to invest in your project.
- They need to be willing to let your voice come through and not subject you to their preferences.
- You need to be compatible. That doesn’t mean you have to be friends, but it wouldn’t hurt. That doesn’t even mean you need to like them, but it sure would help.
- They need to be someone who you respect and will listen to. Otherwise, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Then there is the issue of compensation. That’s a tough one. If they also happen to be a writer, you could swap critiquing services. Paying someone for this can be expensive, but keep in mind, if it’s free, you often get what you pay for.
What I do know is if you find some trusted critique partners or beta readers, treasure them and never take them for granted.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.