As part of the Mentor Monday series, I wanted to talk about receiving critiques. Yes, it is hard to give effective critiques (which is a topic for another Mentor Monday) but it can be just as difficult/confusing/frustrating to receive them.
If the critique is positive, you might think:
Did the reviewer spend enough time with the manuscript? Did she/he miss or gloss over the real problems?
Maybe he/she doesn't want to hurt my feelings by saying the real truth about it?
Does the reviewer have enough experience/industry knowledge to know if it is technically well-written? Sellable? Appropriate for the intended market?
(It couldn't be that the manuscript is actually good, for gosh sakes).
If the critique is not positive, you might think:
Did the reviewer spend enough time with the manuscript? Did she/he miss the Newbery goodness of it all due to lack of sleep or their own distractions?
Is professional jealousy an issue? (dare I say it?)
Is this a reviewer who feels negative comments are necessary for my growth? Or just feels he/she needs to say something negative...
Maybe the reviewer is reacting to something other than the writing -- the genre or style, perhaps? (The problem couldn't be the writing. Heck, no. Not the writing.)
Either way, you might think:
How much can I rely on this feedback and use it to move the manuscript to the next level?
What do I take from the critique and what do I leave? (This is an important decision whether the reviewers are in the same stage of writing and being published as you or further along. )
How do you respond to critiques? A colleague shared her typical reaction:
4) Grudging admission that my colleague's comments may offer valuable insights.
5) SLOW percolation of ideas.
6) Aha moment.
7) Revision (and significant improvement, thanks to those insightful critiques).
8) Gratitude for everyone's patience.
Ah, yes. Patiece with the process is key. That's my take home point for today. What's yours?
Lisa Wheeler (www.lisawheeler.com), picture book author extraordinaire, shared this resource for free critiquing from industry professionals. Yes. You read that right. The website is: http://rateyourstory.blogspot.com/. I tried it out and Margot Finke was my critiquer. She did a great job finding the sticking points in a new picture book manuscript. And she did it for free, quickly, and effectively. Can't ask for much more than that! Try it!
Carrie Pearson is a children's book author and creator-cheerleader.