1. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    How do you get people to want to critique your stuff?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Kallisto, Jul 9, 2015.

    My issue isn't getting published. That's a ways off. It's just getting people to commit to reading my stuff to begin with and tell me something about it. What they like, they don't like. I honestly don't care. At this point, I just want one critique on one thing, whether it's characters, plot or story, I don't care. That's it. And I can't manage it no matter what I post, where I post it, or what agreement I made with the author.

    This is a little different than dealing with critiques that just didn't say what you wanted to hear. I can handle negative feedback. What I am having a hard time dealing with is no feedback. Not even, "You know I couldn't even finish this, it was so awful." How do you deal with that? What makes you want to read a particular story and provide feedback? How do you arrange with beta readers to where you have had success in getting feedback?

    So far I've been screwed so many times with book swaps, it's not even funny. And message and critique boards just ignore my stuff. Even critiquing others works, hoping that in good faith they at least look at my stuff
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    How long are the pieces you're asking people to read?

    And when you say you've been screwed with book swaps, you mean you've done a critique, sent it off, and the other person hasn't critiqued your work? That's really bad manners on the other person's part, and I'm disappointed to hear it's happening that often... maybe you could hold off sending (or even doing) your critique until they've sent you what you've asked for?

    People can be flakes, especially online. Keep trying to find someone good, and when you find them, treat the relationship like gold!
     
  3. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    Yup. Done book swaps every way you can do them. I read one chapter they read one chapter to entire books. Nothing. Oh, maybe they might critique my first chapter, give me two paragraphs showering with praise and that's it.

    Maybe my question should be, what makes you not want to critique a book? You read it online, author asking for feedback, and you decide against it. Why?
     
  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Isn't that what you joined this site for?

    Sometimes when you strike up a discussion you might see people that seem interested. You can always ask them. As long as you aren't rude I don't think people will mind.

    I looked up your profile. I noticed you submitted something in the writing workshop on Tuesday. I would say give it time. A lot of people on here will read a thing there and think about it for a few days to give a more detailed response. It is actually what you are supposed to do if I recall correctly. Plus from what I can see all the writing workshop entries get read at some point.

    I would read it but I am afraid I am far to tired to give a good response. Been working way to much overtime.

    This place will help you. I know that. :) Just not always as fast as we like. Good luck :)
     
  5. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    It's definitely not just this site. Although I will admit that having a story up for over 24 hours and no one commenting is very frustrating, but I don't know the board either. So to criticize this forum alone isn't my purpose. It's just in general. And I don't think it's just me with the problem. I've been asking on several sites and people are seriously saying "Yeah, just can't get anyone to commit to reading it and getting back with me."
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is completely about me, with no reflection on your writing, which I haven't even glanced at, but just for me, based on past experience...

    I don't want to critique a book unless it's almost right. Like, almost done, almost publishable. Or completely publishable, and I'm just suggesting tweaks.

    Again, I haven't even looked at your work, but when I read something that still has clear errors in it - typos, blatant grammar issues, continuity errors, whatever - I feel like there are two possibilities. (Both of which are kinda harsh - I'm being honest, here, but possibly not gentle). One, maybe the author hasn't done her best. She's thrown together some rough ideas and wants me to give feedback, which I feel is a waste of my time since I'm doing work she should have done herself; or, Two, and even worse, maybe the author has done her best, and just can't write at an acceptable level. In that case, the fixes required are so fundamental that there's really nothing meaningful I can say in a critique.

    For the final time - I haven't looked at your stuff. You asked me what makes me not want to critique, and that's what it is. I'm generally pretty happy to read people's stuff, as long as I have time (reading a full novel is a pretty big commitment, and I'd only be willing to do it if I felt I was going to get valuable critique of my own work in return, and in order for me to think the critique would be valuable I'd have to trust the prospective critter's judgement). But I like to spend my time, not waste my time, so I think there's a pretty specific level of writing I'm interested in.
     
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  7. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah. Makes sense. I can see how this would be a common problem.

    So do you think your approach is scaring people off?

    Or do you think you are just having bad luck?
     
  8. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    I don't know. I don't know how much approach you have to have to copy and paste :)
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ooh, that first question is a good one!

    I also don't want to critique stuff if the author introduces the stuff wrong. Like "here's something I just threw together this morning, LOL!" does not inspire me to spend my time when the author hasn't spent hers. Similarly "I really don't know what I'm doing, but I really love to write," isn't too inspiring - I want to read things from people who do know what they're doing, and just need a new perspective.

    And then there are times when the introduction is strangely aggressive/defensive, and I can just tell the author isn't really looking for honest feedback, just admiration. I skip those, for sure.
     
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  10. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    Definitely right there, BayView. I do skip authors I definitely know have a reputation for just challenging me and suggesting I didn't "get" their vision or something.

    I think there might be one sentence in my post here that might be turning readers off.
     
  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol. The approach is before that. Like if you come off strong or almost demanding it might make people not want to help you. Not saying you are. Just an example.

    Me personally? I am always soft. I double check. I make sure I am not pressuring them. I never want a reader to feel they have me breathing down there neck.
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yeah so often someone posts there work on here with a - this is garbage warning. And I'm like huh?

    Are you asking people that like to read and readers that enjoy your genre?
     
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  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that tends to be people that are afraid they will seem arrogant if they don't make a point of giving out a warning. That or they are worried about an issue and not the fully quality so they are warning you the quality is bad because they want feedback on an exact point.

    I dunno. lol When I ask people that seem interested. Like we are usually discussing stuff first or talking and it comes up. I might ask them those things.

    Then again I am genre stupid. I wrote 2 full draft books and I couldn't tell you what genre they are.

    Though at OP. It is indeed a numbers game. While 5 may say no or say yes and flake. One will eventually say yes and give you a good review(good in the context of detailed) and one is all you really need at first.
     
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  14. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a little off where the thread is going, but if possible, I think it's good to join a local in-person writing critique group (they're pretty easy to find on Meetup depending on how big of an urban area you live in. I live in Washington DC and there's at least six or seven, but smaller cities have them too.) If you're going to meetings weekly (or bi-weekly, or monthly), there's more accountability, you get to be friends the people you're working with, and everybody has incentive to read everyone else's stuff. Also, if there isn't one in your area, you can always start one :)

    The other thing I like about in-person groups is that obviously the participants self-select by location rather than genre-interest (which is more what you find online). If you get a good group, that means you'll end up getting feedback from writers of multiple ages, genres, cultures, and levels of experience. Also it supplies you with a group of other people who don't think it's crazy that you spend too much time with your imaginary friends - because they all have too many imaginary friends too.
     
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  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    These people who didn't review in return; how well do you know them? Are they your FB friends? Did you get to know them and communicate with them before the swap?

    'Cause I've noticed that when you swap MS's with a total stranger, the chances of either of you finishing what you promised to finish are much lower than when you beta-read for a semi-friend; someone who isn't too close a friend so you'll still be able to give an honest review, but not too distant so there's a sense of... accountability. Like you don't wanna let them down 'cause you've gotten to know them a bit, exchanged some ides, and liked their FB updates.

    I also feel more motivated to beta-read for someone I've gotten to know at least a little bit. But honestly, once it took me over a year to finish a review on another writer's book (thankfully she had alrady published it). I reviewed her first book relatively quickly (considering I'm the slowest beta-reader in the world), but when reading the next one, life just got in the way.

    Who knows, maybe some of those people who seemed to have given up will actually get back to you? Better late than never...

    Plus, they're doing it for free, so I can't really hold it against to those who have just disappeared.
     
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  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, where's the link to your workshop post? :)

    I'm like @BayView myself - guess I can be a little harsh but I generally don't have patience for works that are just not up to par. I'm not a writing teacher at heart; I hate editing and I edit my own work only because it's mine. I actually rarely even go to the workshop because I'm just not really that interested in critiquing works of people I don't know. If someone asks me personally, I'll usually read something and critique it - but that's about one chapter maximum unless I actually enjoy the writing/story. I would never commit to the full novel until I've read a good sample.

    To some extent it's also about who you ask. The people I actually personally ask are usually people I've corresponded with at least a little, either on the forum, via PM, or email. These people also tend to be people whose opinions I enjoy and respect from what I've seen on the forum, and whose writing I also respect. Interestingly enough, I wouldn't have always read their writing before asking them for critique, but inevitably the ones I respect and ask always turns out to be pretty darn good writers themselves.

    I wonder, if you're struggling to find strangers who would critique your work, have you thought of joining a critique group where you're committed to critiquing each other's work every week? I know there's such a group where I live - they send up to 8000 words into a shared dropbox folder, read each piece before the meeting, and then at the meeting they go round the group. Everyone will discuss X's piece until everyone's had their say, and then they'd move on to discuss Y's piece as a group, until everyone's work has been discussed. It's usually more productive though if the people in the group are of similar level and ideally with someone in the group who reads your genre.
     

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