Requesting feedback is a valuable – and critical – element of the writing process. When it’s positive, feedback can encourage you to keep going when you might otherwise lack momentum. On a more granular level, it can reveal what’s strongest about your writing, which characters and storylines readers respond to the most, etc. All in all, it’s a wonderful motivator in what can be an extremely lonely endeavor.
Negative feedback, while sometimes (or perhaps always) tough to swallow, is equally important. Constructive criticism on plot, character development, dialogue, or even grammar can alert you to weaknesses in your writing – and give you time to address them before taking your manuscript to a bigger stage.
However, while many people would love to help you, not everyone is cut out to criticize the work of friends or family members. So unless you’re sure the person in question will be completely honest with his or her opinion, good or bad, don’t go there. If a friend tells you she loves your book simply because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings, she’s actually doing you a disservice.
If you don’t have access to beta readers in your personal network, check out the following:
Write On by Kindle: Post a few pages or an entire manuscript. I like this site because authors can ask specific questions to readers, from “Is this a good idea for a book?” to “Are there too many storylines introduced in the first chapter?”
Wattpad: Many writers here post their work in a serial format, which encourages readers to come back. Talk about motivation to write that next chapter!
She Writes: A wonderfully supportive community of aspiring and published (traditionally and indie) female authors.
The above are just a sliver of the myriad available options. The key is to find an arrangement that works for you – and embrace it.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2015 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.