The Importance of Asking for Feedback
Written by
Maria Murnane
March 2015
Written by
Maria Murnane
March 2015

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. 

I always tell my early readers that I'd rather hear bad news from them now than read it in a one-star review later!

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: Right here we have a wonderfully supportive community of aspiring and published (traditionally and indie) female authors. Maybe in the comments to this post some of you can find each other!

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.


Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services to aspiring and published authors. Learn more at


This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2015 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • Mika Berghein

    It's important (especially in marketing), but I don't think it's that important if just care abotu writing. What I mean is, consider feedback and consider it good, but don't mend your own ideas, originality or spirit just to make it more sellable or appealing to the audience. I love getting feedback, negative or positive, but I definitely keep my head up high and do my thing more than not.

  • Absolutely! Feedback is so important! As a matter-of-fact, in my blog post this week, I'm asking for readers' opinions on which of the two is more likely to entice them to read my book. Blurb or Excerpt? I'd appreciate your comments.

  • Susan Rich Friedman

    I posed a question on my page (Susan Rich Friedman) about ownership of what we write and how we can ensure that ownership once we've shared it with others.  Here is a wonderfully detailed and well thought reply from Cate Warren:

    Hi Susan!

    I sort of replied to you and other beta reader-hunters in Maria's blog comments board. I struggled with this one too, even questioning if I needed to have my manuscript notarized or something...happy to say, no, that's not necessary! I'm sort of new to this whole thing too, as I joined She Writes in July, but I'm willing to tell you what I know so far. 

    Apparently, when we post our work as a blog, or send it via email, there is an electronic trail of this activity, and therefore some sort of inherent copyright. Also, for my sanity and security, I keep all of my drafts and organized research and reference files on a USB drive, and all of my collected paper research in a document box, along with numerous notes accumulated on scraps of paper and in notebooks. It's also important to print off each draft for that red pen edit, as it will show how you made changes or additions, spontaneous ideas, and an overall journey of your novel. These things provide an evidentiary claim, and also help to avoid the hex of plagiarism. If someone were to try to steal my manuscript, they would be unable to prove ownership in court as they would not have the paper trail that leads to vital details in my book, nor would they be able to explain how they came up with a particular scene, character, venue, etc. I've heard things about mailing the manuscript to yourself and then leaving it sealed, and I've heard something similar about email, since nothing internet-related is ever really deleted. This may also depend on the copyright laws of the country you live in--I'm in Canada, which has similar copyright laws to the United States and Britain. I'm wondering if the crew in the Novelists Struggling or Not group can help you with this--that group is filled with savvy folks who know their stuff. I mostly just listen to what's said, and try to absorb it for future practical use.

    I've posted some of my work in the blog section of my page, if you're interested and think I might be able to beta read for you. I write in-depth character studies, with elements of literary, women's, and popular fiction. I've never beta read for anyone before, except one friend who is just starting to work out what he writes, but I'm willing to try--I'm good at spotting typos, excess words, and inconsistencies. Really, you'd just need to tell me what sort of feedback you're looking for out of the gate, so I can read with purpose. I read a wide variety of material, not really favouring one genre, so I'm open to just about anything. Feel free to leave me a message or a comment on my page if you think I can help you--no pressure!

    Well, I've blathered on here, so I'll let you be. There's so much info on this site, it can get overwhelming. Pace yourself, and don't get discouraged! I send you bundles of luck for your journey! :-)


  • Jane Hanser

    Has anybody participated in author groups? There are many where I live, although they tend to be located more near the student and university centers, an inconvenient distance from where I live. I tried once with a group that met locally but it was limited in size and there was a long waiting list. If you've participated in those, can you share your experiences?

  • Lynda Jo Schuessler

    I'm in the process of a final revision of a romance that I plan to indie publish this summer. I've moved in the last year and, in the process lost my wonderful critique partners. The group has stopped meeting and everyone is now on to other things. I would love to connect with someone who reads romance or women's fiction and exchange work for critique. I have completed the Savvy Authors critters program and I will give honest but not brutal feedback - and I won't try to rewrite your WIP for you. Anyone interested?

  • Judy Archer

    I am about 30,000 words into my first draft, much of which had feedback in a class.Now that I have moved on from the class, I would love to exchange with someone who is writing a memoir- mine is about my genealogical research and family history about five female ancestors and how the research process is affecting my life.  I have written about genealogical research before  and this time I want to bring it alive as to the potential for personal transformation. Anyone want to explore an exchange. [email protected]

  • Susan Rich Friedman

    Carson, I don't fit your demographic but I just want to say that I LOVE the title.  I think it would capture an audience right away.  Great job!

  • Carson Gleberman

    I am looking for parents of tweens and teens to read and give me feedback on draft chapters of my book. Working title is "Umm, About That...: How to Have Those Awkward Conversations with Teens about Sexuality, Gender and More."  The target audience is straight parents of straight kids, because we need to be articulate allies to help not only our kids. (Plus, if your kid is LGBTQ, you don't always see it coming.) If you are interested, please leave a comment.

  • Susan Rich Friedman

    Sandy, my book is not complete but I would be willing to exchange with you.  I really am desperate for honest feedback.  I feel stuck.

  • Sandy Kulhavy

    I too, have a book I've finished and am looking for someone to give me some feedback.  I've had some people read it, but got nothing really concrete from them.  I've sent it to a few agents and had some good feedback.  I've rewritten and revised it so many times I dream about it.  I'd be happy to give some feedback for others in exchange for feedback on my book.


    Sandy Kulhavy

  • Thanks so much for this, Maria. I will definitely keep WriteOn and Wattpad in mind for my next endeavor.

    However, because I have a finished (well, "finished" until I receive more comments) novel, I'd really love to swap work with someone in a similar situation here on SheWrites. I've been working on this novel a long time - so long that I feel I've worn out my welcome with friends, family, mentors, and my writers' group. All of those were invaluable in the early and mid-stages.

    If there's anyone here who finds herself in a similar situation - that is to say, with about 300 pages they'd like critiqued in exchange for taking on mine - please let me know.

    Or if you have advice of any kind for this stage - I'm wide open!

    Thanks so much!

  • Susan Rich Friedman

    How/where on SheWrites can I post in order to get some feedback and how much of my book should I post?

  • Jane Hanser

    In art classes, people routinely go around and give the others in the class feedback, and therefore receive it as well. It's just as important for writers to have this.

    When I was writing my manuscript, the best feedback I received was from a teenager in high school, the son of a friend. If he didn't understand something, or found something unclear or just plain wrong, he was eager to let me know. His feedback was invaluable. He wasn't worried about hurting my feelings. (We then would talk about comments that his teachers were making on his papers - suddenly many of his teacher's comments made sense. He had to stop at one point to get back to focusing on his schoolwork, but he gave me a perspective that I was able to use as ) I revisited the rest of the work. It was a win-win situation. He's now an editor of his high school newspaper.

  • Chantal Walvoord

    Thanks for the links, Maria. I didn't know about Writeon or Wattpad.

  • Maria Murnane

    @Cate, I want to be friends with your friend! She sounds great. :)