No matter if it's coming from a beta reader, a critique partner, an editor, an agent, a publisher, or a reader, you're going to face criticism at multiple points in your writing journey. It won't be pretty. It's going to suck. It may even hurt. However, if you follow the five tips below, you'll be able to handle criticism like a pro!
Tip One: Remember Why You Asked For It
Remember, this is part of the writing process. You asked for this advice when you sent your precious book baby to your critique partners, beta readers, and editor(s). You sent your manuscript to them to help you improve your novel, and they are just doing their job. Sure, you may not like, or agree, with some of the feedback you're getting, but this is only the beginning. When your book is actually released, you're going to get a ton more feedback from readers - and not all of it positive! Try to find value in any feedback you receive now, whether it's good or bad. By listening to the feedback you get now, and making needed changes, hopefully, that means you'll get more positive feedback when it's out in the world.
Tip Two: Weed Out The Jerks
There's good criticism and then there's bad criticism. I'm not talking about negative and positive reviews. Criticism can be good, but not necessarily be positive, as long as it's constructive. If you come across someone whose is openly malicious, then ignore them, and remove that negative energy from your life. Stop sending them chapters of your manuscript. Focus on the people are that giving you helpful and constructive feedback instead. To help with this you may want to create questions for your beta readers and/or critique partners to answer at the end of every chapter, or after finishing your book. I use this sample worksheet that you can find here to help me give beta reader feedback when I'm given an entire novel to beta read.
Tip Three: Listen to the Majority
Depending on the number of beta readers, critique partners, and editors you have you're going to be receiving A LOT of feedback on your novel. Chances are, you aren't going to agree with some of this feedback. Instead of ignoring the advice you don't agree with, try to listen to the majority. If multiple readers are saying the same thing about your characters, your plot, or your world, then you should take their advice into consideration. Ask questions. What areas could you improve in? Do you need to explain something further? Does a character feel too flat? Try to look at the information objectively.
Tip Four: Check Your Emotions
Your goal at the end of this process is to come out with an improved novel. Read feedback with a clear head. Try not to read feedback if you're already angry or having a bad day. Instead, try to go over feedback when you're in a calm headspace. Also, maintain professionalism. If you get harsh feedback from someone, don't send them a nasty email in return. Take a step back and see if there's something constructive you can take from what they're saying. Or open up a conversation with them, and see if they can explain why they feel the way they do.
Tip Five: Don't Give Into Discouragement
Remember, at the end of the day, you're the author and you have the final say. Focus on the criticism, but also focus on improving and editing the heck out of your manuscript so it can be the best it can possibly be. Try not to give into self-doubt, and take comfort in knowing You Are Not Alone! Remember, every author goes through this process, so reach out to other writers in your area or the online writing community. Is there a particular piece of criticism that you don't agree with? Ask a trusted writing mentor for help or talk to a writing buddy that may be more experienced in that particular area.
I hope this post was helpful in helping you deal with criticism. If you have any other tips or questions, please leave them down below!