Every time I write an article about critiques or beta-reading, it seems like someone asks where to find people willing to give them. So in this post, I decided to list five places authors can go for feedback on their work.
- Friends & Family, the old standby. The benefit of this source is that most people have access to it, and it’s the easiest to get. No critiques are required in exchange, and usually (at least in my experience) one or two people from your immediate circle will ask to read your work simply if you mention you’ve written a novel. The downside is that the feedback will likely be biased—they don’t want you to dislike them, after all—and therefore less helpful.
- Developmental editors for the first drafts, to help get a plot completed, and copy editors for the final version. Ideally, we’d all have free access to editors, but if you choose to use one for every version of your manuscript, be prepared to shell out at least a thousand dollars (unless your manuscript is only novella-length or you’re looking for feedback on a piece of short fiction).
- com. I use this one, off and on. Basically, the way it works is that you critique other writers’ work, and in return your own work will get critiqued (via a point system referred to as ‘karma’). The major upside is that the site allows for a line-by-line critique, and the site members are great at making a chapter sound better by itself. On the other hand, don’t expect to get opinions on your overall novel (or most works larger than 3,000 words), since the system is set up to divvy things up into 3,000 word or smaller chunks.
- Other writing exchange sites, such as writing.com. Writing.com is a site which I used to use a lot more, and I’m sure there are a few others out there that provide a similar service. They work similarly to Scribophile (you review work for points to offer to anyone reading your work), but one advantage of writing.com is that the points come directly from you, and don’t degrade over time. With Scribophile, after your work is out of the ‘Spotlight’, it likely won’t get any reviews. But with writing.com the only time you won’t get reviews is if you’ve run out of points.
- Goodreads groups. I like to use Goodreads, because the critiquers are more likely to be readers than writers. Don’t get me wrong, having a good writer as a critique partner is great, but readers have less biased opinions. They haven’t trained their eyes to look for technical mistakes, so their feedback tends to give an idea of how a piece feels to the casual observer. Plus, I’m lazy and readers don’t have a manuscript to ask you to critique in exchange.
If I had to choose my favorite source of these, I’d go with either Goodreads or Scribophile. Scribophile has a couple novel exchange groups that allow you to make connections outside of the site, so I really use it as more of a social network than how it was intended—and I suppose the same goes for Goodreads. In the end, the most important thing about feedback is that you have some, regardless of the source.
I hope you found this helpful. If you have a source that wasn’t listed here, feel free to share it down below. Or if you’d like to ask about one of the sources, you can leave a comment as well.