Monday, September 20, 2010

Good Critique or Bad Review

Okay, so I'm stretching the title of my post a bit.  But it's based on a quote I found on page 216 of Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books, A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication.
"Listen carefully to first criticisms of your work.  Note just what it is about your work that the critics don't like - then cultivate it.  That's the part of your work that's individual and worth keeping."  --Jean Cocteau
Ann Whitford Paul commented about this quote regarding her own stories and how the critics said her stories were too quiet.  But that's what she likes.  It's her style.  So she learned how to cultivate it by adding tension to every story, no matter how peaceful of a bedtime story they were.

A few pages later in her book, I learn that she received 180 not-interested rejections in a five-year time span.  She shares this to help encourage us.  She shares 3 tips to improve our odds of selling a manuscript.

  1. Write more stories.
  2. Revise each story to the best of your ability.
  3. Submit your story to a publisher you've researched and know is looking to do your kind of book.
Another famous author said it takes a writer 8-10 published books to become established.  I can't help but wonder when I'll get there.  My first rejection letter.  My first acceptance letter.  My first review. My first bad review.  My first book signing.  Until then, I'll write more stories.  And with the help of my awesome critique group, The Story Swappers, I'll revise to the best of my ability.  And then submit, submit, submit.  With 5 stories in the revision stage, I can only think that the best stories I can write will soon be submitted.  But of course SOON is very relative.  

So if you ever get a bad review, just think of it as a good critique.  And cultivate it!  Own it.  Make it work FOR you.  

Keep on keepin' on! 


  1. Hi Christie - I am visiting your Blog for the first time and I am enjoying it so much. I have only touched the tip of it and can't wait to come back later on today to read more. Thanks for sharing, Maeve

  2. Great post Christie. Good luck with the submissions! :)

  3. Maeve, welcome aboard! Glad you are enjoying it!

  4. Hi Christie!
    I'm not sure I agree with Jean Cocteau's or Ann's premise, but there's definitely some truth to it. You should always do what you do best and find the right audience for it.
    TX for stopping by my new blog and playing with the turtles!


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