The other day I was talking to a woman who was frustrated by the fact that she'd given her friend the first three chapters of her book to read and offer feedback, and weeks later her friend still hadn't read the pages. This was the woman's first book and she hadn't written anything since high school.

A few different scenarios could have happened here. First of all, her friend could have not read the pages because she's busy or uninterested or whatever. Or maybe her friend read them, thought they were bad, and didn't want to compromise the friendship by saying so. In either case, this writer put her friend in a sticky situation, particularly if the friend isn't a writer herself.

Giving pages to non-writer friends and family to critique is not a good idea. First, it's difficult for people who love us to give us honest feedback. For example, I know that when I give my mom pages to read, no matter how bad they are, she's going to tell me she loves them. And as a mom myself, I can safely say that she's probably not being dishonest with me. She's my mom. Moms love everything their children create, which is why I have saved almost every scribble my child has ever scrawled. The same goes for dads and brothers and sisters and best friends-they love you and everything you do, in their eyes, is fabulous.

(Sharing pages with friends and family members does have its place, however. Anytime I'm feeling down on myself, I share pages with someone I know will tell me how wonderful and talented I am!)

And second, it takes a lot of work to read something, particularly when written by a beginner, and offer constructive feedback. If the enlisted reader isn't an experienced writer or editor, they probably won't know where to start or what to say. They will know something's not working, but they may not be able to identify exactly what it is, and that's not really beneficial to you if you're trying to improve your writing.

So what can you do to get constructive feedback on your work? Consider the following options.

1. Hire someone. If you want to get good, objective suggestions on how to improve your writing, hiring an editor or writing coach to work with you is the best way. However, it isn't the cheapest and if you're new to writing, like the woman I mentioned above, you may not be willing to pay for help and you may not be ready for that level of instruction. This is something you'll have to decide for yourself.

2. Partner with a writer-friend. As long as you're willing to read and critique someone else's work, you can look for a writing buddy to exchange pages with. This will be most beneficial to you, obviously, if your buddy is a little more advanced than you, particularly if you have no idea what you're doing. But you'll want to make sure the arrangement is mutually beneficial.

3. Take a class. Aside from hiring someone to work one-on-one with you, taking a class is the best thing you can do for your writing, particularly if you've never written anything before. Being in a class will help you learn basic writing skills, expose you to other writers, and help you improve your own work. Look for a class that includes a workshop, meaning everyone in the class reads and critiques everyone else's work. Check your ego at the door, and take plenty of notes!

Getting the Feedback You Need
Allowing other people to read your pages is an important step in improving your writing skills. Objective readers will be able to tell you what's working and what isn't. And they'll be able to make suggestions that can dramatically improve your work. Just make sure you ask the right people to help you-and NEVER give anyone your first draft!

Author's Bio: 

Melinda Copp helps aspiring self-help, business, and nonfiction authors write and publish books that establish expertise, attract clients and opportunities, and share their message in a compelling way. Visit for a free copy of her Write Your Book Quick-Start Mini E-course.