I know I promised to take the month off but I miss you guys! I’ve had several calls from attendees who had a rough critique and I wanted to give you a few tips on how to handle the disappointment.
First, we have to look at WHY the critique didn’t go so well. There are several reasons for this: the material was not a good match for your faculty member, the material wasn’t ready for the eyes of an editor, agent or publisher, or you just didn’t like what the faculty member had to say.
Once you’ve decided the WHY, you need to figure out your next step.
If the problem is only that it wasn’t the right faculty member, this is an easy one to fix. Do a little more comprehensive research on who’s right for your manuscript. What agents and editors want changes all the time so be sure to keep a constant pulse of market to make sure you’re targeting the right folks.
If the material wasn’t ready for the eyes of your faculty member, you need to figure out precisely where you stand. Are you capable of the required edits and revisions yourself or do you need to hire a freelance editor to help you make the most of your manuscript? There are lots of professionals out there who can really help you to see what needs improvement. If you think you’re past the point of needing a freelance editor, you can always find a critique group — real or online — to help you iron out the wrinkles.
Now, if you just didn’t like what the faculty member had to say, that’s a little more problematic. Again, you have to discover the WHY. Did you feel the person was flat wrong? Did he or she just “not get” your submission? Are you being pig-headed and not taking responsibility for the flaws in your work? Were you overconfident? Was the faculty member just having a hard time understanding your angle? Think long and hard about this. Talk to others who are familiar with your work AND the industry.
At some point in this business, you have to develop a thick skin. You have to understand there are all kinds of people and viewpoints. Maybe your faculty member was right. Maybe not. But don’t be so overconfident in your work that you refuse to change, revise or edit. Flexibility is key.
A small word to the wise: No matter how vehemently you disagree with the faculty member who performed your critique, don’t blast them on the web or in any other public forum. Word gets around in publishing circles very quickly.