Writing Books/Feedback

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Question
Hi Susan,

I read somewhere that a writer should never pay for feedback on his/her work. But where can a writer get constructive criticism? I have heard that editors are too busy these days.
Personally I wouldn't mind paying but there are so many critique services how do you know which one to choose and also they are rather expensive so what is a writer to do?!


Answer
Hi Lyn!

So you are ready for a critique - great!

There are several ways you can get "constructive" criticism. There are many writing groups on the Net where you can both exhibit your work and critique that of others. You can find them at groups.yahoo.com or MSN groups or geocities.com. Or just type into your search engine "Writing critique groups" as I did, and came up with 476,000 hits. It is normally free to join these groups.

Some people in these groups will love your stuff and give you lots of help and support, while others will hate it and may even trash it - but you must consider all comments. Whatever they tell you, remember this: if they are going to judge what works and what doesn't, they should also be able to tell you what the problem is, where it lies (the very words) and how to fix it. If they cannot, go elsewhere until you find someone who can. That person is worth paying.

Editors (except this one) do not have time to help you with your writing. Publishers are not even looking at manuscripts from amateurs these days; they've given that job over to agents. Your agent - if you can get one to accept you - may or may not help clean the book up - but if they do it's probable that you will be charged.

I'm sure if you typed "Editors" into your search engine you would come up with hundreds all willing to help, for a price. That, of course will vary according to how much, and what kind of work you want done. You may spend $25 to find out if your MS is ready to step into public or needs another rewrite (or two), or up to hundreds to revise the whole thing. The only way you can find out whether the editor knows their stuff is to check out their credentials: education, present occupation, experience, etc. What do others have to say about their work? If they are legit they should be willing to offer "references." If they aren't, they're probably of little use at best, and at worst, scammers. Demand samples, and references.

I do this kind of work all the time. You can check out my "references" on the profile page. For samples of my writing go to www.webspawner.com/users/rand49/index.html. (This site is still under costruction but there are samples there). I currently edit for two websites, realsexed.com (aimed at teens) and anotherchapter.com, an author's site. If you are interested please contact me at pygmypress@mail.com.

There's another option: educate yourself. (That's the long way, the way I chose). You can go to a good college (as I did) and learn how to write so you don't need criticism, or check a bunch of books out of the library and teach yourself.

It's a long hard slog, either way. You must love writing for its own sake, so that you will continue doing it even if you never earn a cent.

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 245+ questions.

And good luck with your writing!  

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Susan Rand

Expertise

I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at http://pygmypress.com, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.

Experience

I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

Education/Credentials
BA degree in Written Communication

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