Learn How to Survive an In-Depth Book Critique Without Losing What Remains of Your Sanity Writing a book is a very personal experience.  While the thoughts, feelings and actions of each character are their own, the author creates these things with his or her own experiences, either conscious or subconscious.  this means that every time a book is written or a book is read, a piece of the author is inside that book.  For that reason, receiving any sort of critique or hash words about the material can seem like a personal insult.  The thing to remember is that critiques are meant to help you improve the material, not to insult your intelligence or creativity.


1. Disconnect from the Material

The first thing you should do is try to disconnect yourself from your material.  While your book is a personal reflection of parts of you, by the time you get into the critique stage, you need to look at your book in the same light that you would look at someone else's book.  In other words, forget you wrote it and start looking at it with the eyes of an editor or book marketer.  this will make the comments in the critique easier to handle, and you may even understand what the critiquer was really trying to say.  Not to mention, you'll preserve your sanity and sense of self-worth.


2. Evaluate the Strength of the Critique

The critique you receive should be detailed.  If you've handed your critiquer a document in Word, LiberOffice, GoogleDocs or another work processor, there should be comments in the margin and the text the critiquer is referencing should be highlighted.  If your critiquer didn't do that, there should be detailed notes either at the beginning of each chapter or the end of each chapter.  The style will depend on your critiquer, but it should all be detailed.  If the individual did not like your plot, there should be many reasons listed.  If the critiquer did not like a character, they should have provided reasons.  If the critiquer merely said - I hate X character or X plot item, dismiss it immediately.  There must be reasons to back up the claims.  Otherwise, the comments are useless and not worth another moment of your time.

3. Determine Whether or Not You Agree with the Comments

Read the critiquer's review or summary and reread the highlighted text or chapter. Do you agree or disagree, and how strongly do you feel about your determination? If you partially agree or disagree, what do you think needs to be changed? Remember, your critiquer is trying to provide you with valuable advice and relay a feeling about the material. It is up to you to translate that into actionable items.

If you strongly disagree, why? Do you think the critiquer missed something, didn’t understand the material or just plain wasn’t the right reader for the book? Your answer to this question is important. If you feel like the critiquer missing something or didn’t understand something, is there a way to make it clearer? If you feel like the critiquer wasn’t the right reader for the book, you can dismiss the comments immediately. However, it’s important to weigh their critique with other critiquer’s comments. If something you disagree with shows up multiple times, you may want to take another look at it.

4. Make the Changes You Feel Are Valuable and That Enhance the Work

As the author of the book, you are not obligated to take anyone’s advice into consideration (unless you happen to be under contract, and then, you better change something if you want to keep your contract). If you are an indie author who is going to publish under your own name or brand, you can accept all of the advice, some of the advice or none of the advice. It’s completely up to you, but remember, what you are trying to create is a book that is interesting and appealing to readers.