Giving Back or Being Used?

I’m hijacking the topic from yesterday’s Riding With The Top Down’s blog by Helen Brenna, which is reading someone’s work for free.

What do you do when approached to give your opinion on an aspiring writer’s work? I’m not talking about contest judging as the entrants have PAID for your critiques.  While I’m nobody in the publishing world, I still feel an obligation to give back what has been so graciously been given to me. (Major thanks to Marilyn, Susan, Linda and Deb!)

But. . . the few times I’ve accepted this burden, spending hours with detailed critiques, I’ve either alienated them or hurt their feelings that I’ve never been asked to help again. I wasn’t cruel or called their ‘baby’ ugly, but I didn’t hand out the praise they thought their work deserved. If the NYT BS author said it was ready for publication, why did you ask me to read it?

Now after reading RWTTD blog, I’m having second and third thoughts about accepting unsolicited work. I don’t really have the time, and in today’s technological world, there are other options for aspiring writers.

What is your take on this?


5 thoughts on “Giving Back or Being Used?

  1. Meg,

    I know there was at least one time, where someone asked me to read something and then give them my honest opinion, and what I said broke their heart. I think that free advice is worth every penny you pay for it.

    I believe that published authors have the RIGHT to refuse to give anyone a critique for a first read. Your time is MONEY.

    That said, I think giving back to baby writers is one of the kindest and best things an author can do. I think it takes a very giving person to encourage new talent in such a competitive field.


  2. I think it’s great to get feedback from those that have been around for a while and know the ropes. But outside of our group, I won’t ask. (And I’m even cautious with members of the group.) I’d feel as if I were intruding on her time by imposing myself. Guess it goes back to that ‘southern’ raisin’.

    And I’m very appreciative when they do have the time!

  3. Meg:

    It’s just plain stupid to ask someone to critque your work then get upset when they give you an honest opinion. Sorry, that’s not tactful, but it’s true.

    That being said, I do want to add that I thought one of the benefits of joining a local RWA chapter was to give and offer mutual support to both published and unpublished authors. I think if you’re too busy to offer a review then there’s nothing wrong with politely saying No. On the other hand, outside of the critique group, I’ve only asked 2 published authors for their critique of my work. I don’t make a habit of asking published authors for a critique specifically because I’m afraid they’ll see it as a burden or will be simply too busy to take the time.

    Since I want to be respectful of them and the demands on their time , I simply don’t ask.

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