Critique Partner & Beta Reader Feedback
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Where to Find CPs & BRs:
Do an announcement on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, your newsletter, or anywhere else your followers will see it.
Join in events like Twitter's #CPMatch or join Author Brittany Wang's Facebook Group Plotter Life Writers Community and post in the CP thread. Or other CP Facebook Groups- just do a search.
*In your announcement you'll want to list your genre, age group, word count, your pitch, and any other information that will let future CPs & Betas know what they're getting into.
How to Find Your Match:
Once you've gathered some CP interest, you might want to chat with them for a little while to get to know them and see if they're a good fit for you. If you feel comfortable you'll want to do a 1-3 chapter swap (if you'll be critiquing someone else's work while they critique yours). But the same can be said of initially testing the waters.
Especially if they're strangers, you don't want to send your entire manuscript to be stolen (we all fear this). But sending 1-3 chapters initially will let them see if they like your writing and story, and it'll let you know if you like their critique style. (Getting a CP who's great at developmental and line edits is a gold mine, snatch them up).
Once you're both happy, set a schedule and deadline for completing the critique/reading. Also decide if you want to send your book in chapter chunks or the whole book.
Another thing to consider is the medium. Do you want to send a word doc or would you rather chat in real time in a google doc?
What to Ask:
There are two approaches- giving a list of questions vs letting the reader do their thing.
I personally hate a huge list of questions, it takes me out of the book if I have to keep answering things or think of answers for things that weren't even on my radar.
By all means, tell them your weak points or what you know you need help on and let them critique like they'd critique their own work, or like they'd read any book, and they can pay special attention to your concerns. You can also ask them to add some cheer leading remarks, for lines or characters they like- this will help your confidence later when you read their critique.
After they're done, you can ask follow up questions for anything they didn't touch on.
If you want to go the questions route, I have a checklist for Critique Partner Developmental Edits which walks you through how to critique someone's book, and is a great tool for them to critique yours as well. You can pick and choose which questions/topics to send them.
How to Handle Feedback:
The first critique is the hardest. The first real critique I should say. I've gotten some critiques that have minimal feedback and some cheer leading and they helped me zero.
The CPs who give a ton of feedback, while overwhelming, are really helpful. And if you have more than one CP/BR to compare feedback, it'll help you focus on what one person thinks versus what several people agree on. Always go with your gut as well, if you really disagree or think the person missed the mark, ignore it.
Once you have feedback, comb through the document and either combine all feedback into one word document or start chapter by chapter sections to help make revisions manageable. You'll also want to make an 'overall' section for general feedback that's not specific to a scene or chapter. Hopefully your critique includes some cheer leading as well so it's not all doomsday things.
Revisions Based on Feedback:
Once the feedback is compiled, pull up a new document or your current draft, and start revising section by section. If you went the word doc route, you can pull up the documents side by side for easy editing, and if you did a chapter summary, you can do the same or print it out to reference.
Hopefully you don't need a complete rewrite and can easily implement developmental and line edits. Most always you'll need to rework your beginning, and maybe make your inciting incident, climax, etc more hard hitting.
If you do need a complete rewrite, while daunting, it's for the best and your new draft will be AMAZING, so keep that in mind. I've had to do it before, to the point I barely used the original draft, and the new draft was 1000x better. I learned more about the craft along the way and was able to world build and character build more and realize what the essential scenes were. There's a lot to be said for self-editing and revising.
I hope you embrace the experience and appreciate the feedback, good or bad, because it's all a learning experience and we can never learn enough.
Once you've completed the CP & BR feedback changes, and you're confident your draft is where it should be, it's time to query! Yay! Good luck achieving your publishing goals!
(If you're self-publishing, now's the time to do another round of Betas or hire an editor before publishing).
For more helpful tips, check out my YouTube Channel. And get member access, freebies, and updates by signing up for my newsletter! By signing up you'll get access to my Critique Partner Checklist template & we'll go through what feedback to give your CP and how to handle your own self-edits.