How to Handle and Process Feedback on Your Manuscript

For many writers, there's nothing more intimidating than hearing someone's opinion of your work. It can be paralyzing if you don't have a way to process critiques and edits in a constructive way. Here are tips on how to handle feedback on your book manuscript from editors, critique partners, and beta readers.


Receiving feedback is tough. Your book is your baby; no one wants to hear that their baby is anything but perfect. Remind yourself why you asked for feedback in the first place: it's going to help you make your book the best version of itself. Everyone has room for improvement. Take a deep breath. Read the feedback in full, and then put it down for a while. Focus on the end goal: a stellar book that resonates with readers and dazzles critics. 

Consider the source

When you receive feedback on your book, consider the source. A critique is only as good as the person giving it, which is why it's important to find quality critique groups, beta readers, and editors who specialize in your genre. This is crucial. Take time to find the right editors and readers for your book to ensure you don't end up with a clash of opinions. If you've done your research beforehand and found skilled, thoughtful readers for your work, then you should be able to trust their feedback.

Count the occurrences

Is this a one-off comment or have you heard it from more than one person? People do have differences in opinions, so you can't follow every piece of advice or you'll never have a cohesive book. Consider all comments, but remember that you don't have to follow every single one, especially if they don't fit with your goals for your book. When the feedback you hear starts to sound familiar and add up you should consider following it. If you’ve given a suggested edit or comment careful consideration but don’t agree with it, don’t make the change.

"Tackle the big changes first, and save the details for last."

Give it time

Rewriting your work is a huge part of writing and publishing your book. It's a necessary step, but that doesn't mean it's easy. After receiving feedback, you may need time to let yourself accept the feedback before you're ready to start working on your second (or third, or fourth) draft. Take time to figure out how you are going to apply and approach the edits.  You may need to review your work to familiarize yourself with it again if it's been a while since you've read it. 

Apply legitimate edits

Once you're ready, tackle the big changes first, and save the details for last. Some of the big picture items include changes to organization and structure, tone, character development, point of view, and plot. You may need to use charts, lists, and outlines to stay organized and track what and how material has been altered. Although large scale changes are the most challenging, they can make a huge difference in the impact of your book, affecting how well your book is understood, interpreted, and enjoyed. Always be sure to track previous versions of your manuscript by giving updated versions a new file name. You never know when you may want to refer back to a previous version.

Follow your passion

Don't let a tough critique or negative feedback stand in the way of achieving your dreams and following your passion...and your gut. Remember why you want to publish a book in the first place. Remind yourself of your goals and don't be too hard on yourself. Above all, write the book YOU want to write for your readers. 

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  • Good words. I made the mistake of having my husband read part of one of my manuscripts. I say 'mistake' because he doesn't speak the same english I do and everything I told him I didn't want him to do - he did. I just wanted to know if the few pages I gave him were flowing, not if I spelled every word correctly. It was a disaster. I don't have him read anything anymore.