Whose critique counts most?

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All feedback is not created equal. Some people think a business book should be written like an academic paper. Others don’t know enough about business or writing to be helpful.

You may have to ask some people like that to review your manuscript for social reasons. But you don’t have to give their critique the same weight as more qualified reviewers. Here are three qualifications to look for.

Look for knowledge.

There are three kinds of knowledge that are important to you. Look for knowledge of the writing process. Look for knowledge of your readers. Look for knowledge of your subject. It’s rare to find all three in one person.

Look for people who will tell you the truth.

Some reviewers will tell you that your work is amazing, worthy of the Nobel Prize at least. Others will think it’s their job to find everything that could possibly be wrong with your work and point it out. I find it best to send them a thank-you note and then put their evaluations in the recycling bin.

Search out the reviewers who will tell you the truth. They will tell you what’s good and what’s not so good. They will make suggestions for improvement.

When you find these people, treasure them. They can help you make your writing the best it can be.

Look for people who you will listen to.

It would nice if I could suggest that you simply listen to the advice of knowledgeable people who tell you the truth, but I know it’s not that simple. Every one of us has people we just have a hard time taking advice from. Sometimes when our head says, “Listen!” our emotions say “Nope!”

Just accept that as a characteristic of human nature. Pay attention to the knowledgeable truth tellers whose advice you will listen to.

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