How to Handle Constructive Criticism

How to Handle Constructive Criticism

This is for first time, unpublished authors who are sensitive to comments that disagree with how they perceive their work. They have a hard time accepting any remarks that hurt their feelings, even when it’s stated in a positive and constructive manner.

  • Don’t take criticism personally. It may initially hurt your feelings to hear something like, “This phrase is telling, not showing,” “This sentence is poorly structured,” or “This word is overused –used your thesaurus.” These critics are not saying, “You’re a terrible writer. Why bother? You should be embarrassed.” What they are really saying is, “Here’s a way to improve your story” and “Here’s how you can improve your craft of writing.”
  • Take what you can use and let go of the rest. Whether you receive a critique or a rejection letter that leaves your ego full of holes, take the comments that you can use –what makes your story better– and let the rest go. For now. Save the critique or comments in a file –believe it or not, but most of the time they’re like gold. Maybe later, when you’ve grown a thicker skin, you will come to see the wisdom of constructive criticism. No, not all critics are right, or perhaps they’re only right about a part of your story, but take any opportunity to learn something from what is shared with you with open eyes, heart, and mind.
  • When you react to a critique like someone just poured water on you, what’s happening is that you are regressing back to the second grade when you had to read your poem aloud in class and the other kids made fun of you. Or you wrote a story and a mean sibling or drunk parent said you’d never amount to anything.  Don’t get hung up on the C word. A critique is a tool to help you become a better writer and to develop a better story, not to remind you of what went wrong in your childhood. It’s time to be accountable for your work and to learn to act like an adult. Don’t let the bullies of the past haunt you. Stop making up a story about what constructive criticism means as an adult.
  • You can’t expect to write perfection on your opening line. My favorite all time remark by writer Annie Lamont is “It’s okay to write a shitty first draft.” It’s a rarity for any artist to create a masterpiece on their first try. Any professional author will be the first person to tell you that someone critiqued their early works and hurt their feelings. If they took it personally, they wouldn’t have kept on writing.
  • Don’t let a critique, criticism, or a bad review ruin your day. Hold onto your confidence in your writing ability. Jay Asher’s first book was not well received and he reacted poorly to reviews, going into a depression and not writing for two years. Jay said that realizing he wasn’t as good a writer as he thought made him work all the harder on his next book. Once he came out of depression, he wrote Thirteen Reasons Why. It was immediately picked up by a publisher, within months became a best seller, it received at least a dozen prestigious awards, and only a few months later the film rights were sold to Warner Bros. Studios and is now under production. Asher said he’s learned not to take reviews to heart.
  • Writers and those in the industry are better editors and critics than family and friends. People who know you generally don’t want to hurt your feelings and say, “That’s a nice story” or “I really like it” even if your book sucks. Better to hear the truth from someone who knows how important it is to have a great product ready for publishing.
  • Show your work to a number of people. (Don’t worry about plagiarism –it’s not as great a problem as you may think and it’s easy to prove with your dated computer files and people who have read your story who can say that you are the original writer.) By getting feedback from as many honest people as possible, you will begin to appreciate the time and energy they take to give you a reader’s perspective on your work. Once it gets rave reviews from experienced writers, send it to a professional editor. You will start to hear more positive remarks on your book and you will see how far you’ve come as a writer.

If writing is your passion, don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way!

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Creating A Book Platform & Promotion Ideas

It’s not enough to get the word out after you get a book published. A writer these days must be a partner with a publisher in the marketing and promotion campaign that will drive sales of your books. By creating a platform, or a fan base, prior to your book being published, you will help ensure that your book will have a potential audience. This will translate into immediate sales the moment your book is available in print and/or e-book. These ideas may have been stated differently elswhere; the important thing is to take the information that will help you in your writing craft, including the platform and marketing process, and be proactive in making it work for you!

A Platform is your potential audience, marketing is actually selling your book, and promotion is like public relations –working on getting your name out.


  1. Create an attractive and user friendly website
    1. If you don’t have a separate blog, include a blog page on your website, along with a brief but interesting biography and synopsis. You may want to include a sample of your book–up to the first 3 chapters.
    2. You might include a flash presentation (like a slide show/mini-trailer of the book.)
    3. Create a personalized URL to help customers go directly to your website.
    4. Offer valuable content to make people want to visit your site. Provide news & updates on your book, post event listings and podcasts, videos, offer free gifts advertising your book/title, share your advice on writing with people, and interact with your readers whenever possible –which will promote your Google ranking and serve to make your name more visible.
    5. The website is about selling your book; don’t try to sell in guest blogs, interviews, or other online events. (Only give details when asked. A brief mention is okay.) You want people to get to know you as an author, not as an aggressive salesperson.
  2. Join bookclubs/writers groups in person and online. Ask to post links on their sites that connect to your website and/or blog.
  3. Research blog websites related to your book and individuals to do blog interviews and guest posts.
  4. Always present your marketing and promotional materials in the most professional manner possible.
  5. Enter writing contests to get your name out.
  6. Create an e-zine or newsletter with valuable content.
  7. Conduct readings at local area schools, retirement homes, bookstores, or libraries.
  8. Create an adult or elementary school creative writing workshop or book club.
  9. Network, through social media and face-to-face communication by attending events where writers, authors, and publishers are present, like conferences and literary panels.
  10. Obtain a Google AdWords Account (key words for Google searches) and directory listings, checking occasionally to see how many hits your name gets.
  11. Develop a list of bookstores and coffee houses with open mics and make appearances.
  12. Social networks: Take advantage of what a social website can offer. If there’s a profile page fill it out. Include offers for merchandise giveaways, announce events and news on your books, be proactive in connecting with your readers, have a page with a brief bio and synopsis. Build relationships with professionals in the industry as well.
  13. Stay informed on what’s happening in the writing industry.
  14. Research names of people who reply to any blogs and keep in occasional contact. When your manuscript is out, send them an announcement and related information about your book (launch party, etc.)
  15. Create a blog page with a personalized URL or link to help customers go directly to your page


  1. Publicize every event through media –press releases, radio & television, newspapers & magazines (interviews & book release)
  2. Find affordable places to advertise your book online (like
  3. Promote your book online through online press releases and media, other blogs, author interviews, and article submissions.
  4. Continue to use social media for book promotion.
  5. Create a book trailer on youtube; conduct interviews & reviews on your book.
  6. Create an audio book.
  7. Attend book readings/signings at bookstores.
  8. Create an e-book.
  9. Send everyone in your address book an announcement –especially people with a recognized name or firm. Tell them about your promotion efforts and ask for their support. Maybe they can tweet their contacts for you. Ask for support from your existing fan-base (including family & friends) to help get the word out. Always include a link in any correspondence to your website.
  10. Ask for reader recommendations to post at your website. Use them for promotions at Amazon and other places that sell your book.
  11. Place a vinyl advertisement on your rear car window or place magnetic copies of your cover for your vehicle doors.
  12. Create quality practical merchandise as a thank-you when someone purchases a book and to help support your book (pens, chapstick, eyeglass holders, shopping pads.)
  13. Donate books to libraries, hospital waiting rooms, and schools.
  14. Always keep copies of your books close at hand in excellent condition available to sell.
  15. Engage in public speaking events to promote your book and to create more contacts. Try local college English departments.
  16. Create a venue with another writer that will increase the visibility of your work, like attending a book expo and save costs sharing a booth.
  17. Join book clubs and local area meetup groups to promote your book.
  18. Join online communities like Goodreads, JacketFlap, Shelfari, LibraryThing, and Kindle forums where you can be interviewed, give reviews of books, interact with your readers, and offer promotional items to the audience.
  19. Set up a profile on Amazon Author Central to obtain weekly bookscan counts. Do an author blog at Redroom (supposedly they get exposure at AOL News.)
  20. Submit well-written articles to Writer’s Digest to build up your credibility and popularity as an author.
  21. Promote other writers by adding their links to your website and placing your link at theirs.
  22. Check out blogs that connect you to local bookstores and see if you can write for them.
  23. Always find ways to remain focused on your target audience.
  24. Join and participate in book club sites. See if you can create a link for them at your website. Offer to be a guest writer or blogger it they mention you at their site (Check out these book groups:  Book Browse, Book Club Cheerleader, Book Club Girl, Book Club Queen, Book Movement, Dear Reader, Manic Mommies Book Group, The Pulpwood Queens, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides.)
  25. Set up your book for Amazon’s Search Inside the Book, Google’s Book Search, and Barnes & Noble.
  26. Create an online book launch virtual party, asking key websites for prize donations (related to writing like editing, computer supplies, journals) in exchange for letting them advertise.
  27. Exchange links with websites that appeal to your intended audience.
  28. Hold a launch party. In addition to supportive family and friends, invite local media, book clubs, writing groups, and people in the writing industry. Have the event catered.
  29. Get word out about your new book through places like BlogHer and Networked Blogs.
  30. Add a signature line in your e-mail with book information and a link to your website.

Please let me know if you can offer other suggestions for first time authors to create a platform and promote their work.

The following are web addresses of extremely knowledgeable professions with superb articles, some of the wisdom which sprinkles this list. THANK YOU to these authors for their time and wonderful advice. Please visit their sites!

Meg Waite Clayton is a bestselling novelist and has written a great article at her website, 1st Books, about creating an audience with bookgroups. She wrote How to Build A Book Group Audience for Your Book and it’s very significant because of the success of her own books with book clubs. Her book The Language of Light is a current Target Pick for Book Clubs. The Wednesday Sisters is a Bookmovement top 20 pick for 2010, and The Four Ms. Bradwells is a Pulpwood Queens club pick. Check out Meg’s article on building a book group audience at:

Anthony Puttee is an author and marketing professional at and he wrote a wonderful article on a book-marketing-plan. He created a spectacular diagram of what the promotional platform looks like, centering it all around an author’s website or blog, what Anthony calls “the hub” of all content and information. He has lots and lots of terrific articles at his site to help writers. Here is the address for his book marketing plan:

Thank you to Sunny Frazier at Oak Tree Press and Posse leader for recommending that the posse have a close look at these helpful and talented authors.

And finally, thank you to my new friend, Bonnie Hearn Hill, international best-selling author –her latest release is Ghost Island. She co-authored Digital Ink: Writing Killer Fiction in the E-book Age, an important work for writers, new and seasoned, who are thinking of first time publishing in e-books. Check out her website at Bonnie is an amazing motivator and reminded me that although the marketing and promotion of your book is vital, the most important work for an author is to write.

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Hello world!

In an effort to create a platform for my forthcoming books –Eve’s Amulet – Book 1, The Long Term Effects of Sexual Abuse, Decklan’s Red Wagon, Death House, and Window Romance– I am joining the blogging world and sharing what I think may be of interest to writers and non-writers alike.

I would love to know what type of blogs you would find of interest, whether it’s related to writing or not. What would you write about?