So, we already discussed interacting with your beta-reader, but as you know, beta-readers are different than critiquers. So, while some principles will be the same, not all of them will be. Let’s take a look.
Do’s and Don’ts of Interacting with your Critiquer
1. Do not argue with your critiquer.
This goes for beta-readers too, but a critique partner ought to be someone with more knowledge of your area of writing and of writing in general. While they can make mistakes or poor judgment calls, chances are much higher that they know what they’re talking about. If you’re defensive or arrogant, no one—not even a less experienced critique partner—will be happy working with you. So no arguing.
2. Do ask questions and discuss areas you aren’t clear on.
If your critiquer has said something to you that doesn’t make sense or that you’d like further pointers on, you should ask. Unless they tell you they aren’t open to further questions (which is unusual for a critiquer), you can ask about whatever you need to. Just keep rule one in mind and avoid shutting them down.
3. Do discuss.
Along the same lines as rule two, you should discuss things with your critiquer if you don’t agree or if they seem to be missing something important to the story. Explain where you’re coming from and ask their opinion. After you have that, ask any clarifying questions you have and thank them for the input. Then you can decide if you want to take the advice or leave it.
4. Do not behave in an inconsiderate or arrogant manner after you get the feedback from them.
This should not have to be stated, but it unfortunately does because there are people out there who do forget this and need to be reminded. Your critiquer is human too. I’ve seen many writers treat critiquers poorly and harshly or put them down as people because the writer didn’t get the feedback they wanted. These kinds of people are a misery to work with. Literally, I can promise you that if you’re like this, you are going to be the person we hate working with most because not only is it likely your work is poor quality because you ignored advice from three people before us, but you’re not going to fix it after we review it, and you’re going to be rude to us in addition. Kindness will get you much further.
Hopefully, no one reading this is like that. But I recognize that these people are out there, so if you are one of those people, please know that you are shooting yourself in the foot first and foremost. We’re not going to be happy with you, obviously, and some of us may get upset over how you treated us, but in the end, you are the one to suffer because arrogance or defensiveness mixed with rude behavior will make your journey from writer to author much harder if not impossible. I hope that no one reading this is in that position, but, this needs to be pointed out because too many times people don’t stop to be grateful that the critiquer took time to go through their work.
If you didn’t get a glowing review, be doubly grateful! They took time to pin point the book’s problem areas instead of reading a polished book off a bookstore shelf. Critiquing badly written work is way tougher than doing so for a well-written work. Show your appreciation and be mindful of their feelings too.
If you aren’t, I guarantee they’ll spread the word to anyone else they know who might consider working with you. And the Internet makes that very easy. I’ve heard stories myself from fellow Wattpaders and writer friends, and I have some of my own. Rude behavior lost one writer a chance at joining a critique group because people in the group had worked with the writer and shared their awful experience. This individual was refused on the grounds that their behavior ruined the previous critique group they’d been involved in. Please don’t let that story be yours too!
This isn’t an extremely long post because the main point is that you should be polite and professional in every case. If you aren’t, you only damage your own image and give another writer cause to say bad things about you. Being polite and courteous goes a long way toward avoiding ruffled feathers or smoothing them over if they occur. In the end, it’s your book, and you can do what you choose to do with it. The best way to handle dealing with a critique, good or otherwise, is to take whatever you can from your critiquer’s input to make your book better, but don’t feel obligated to use the rest. Throw it out and move on.