Navigating the Forest of Feedback: 8 Ways to Recognize Helpful Criticism (and How to Ignore the Rest)

This post by Elizabeth Law originally appeared on her Elizabeth Law Reads site on 3/5/15.

Recently, on a flight home from vacation, I met author Randi Hutter Epstein and we we were talking about her work. She said “After about three days of writing, I don’t know if what I have is good, or crap. I’ll ask anyone their opinion!”


If you’re a writer you need feedback, whether you’re a novice or an author with 30 books under your belt. And there are a lot of people out there who are only too happy to give it to you. But how do you know what comments are useful, anyway? What should you take, and what should you toss? Here are some good things to consider when asking for, or getting, feedback:

#1) What are my manuscript reviewer’s credentials and experience?
Has he published books for the same age category as I’m writing for? Or is she perhaps less far along in the process, but still experienced in reading and listening to manuscripts, and in giving thoughtful feedback? Maybe he is at the same place as I am and we can learn together?

Because you don’t need to hire an experienced editor to get good feedback.  For example, critique groups probably help their members more with their works in progress than any other class, editor or method out there.  But do keep in mind who is telling you things.  If they are fellow writers, do you admire or like their work? Do they share your ability to learn and grow?   Or are they one of those types who seem to have all the answers, until you find out they’ve never actually published anything?


Read the full post on Elizabeth Law Reads.


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