Don’t Let Any Relative Critique Your Picture Book — And Here’s Why
Your friends, family, and colleagues may love you and appreciate your writing endeavors. But will they keep it real and give you the feedback you need?
You may have worked so hard to complete your story that you are super eager to share it with someone. You may be thinking how you can ask your fashionable cousin, tell-it-like-it-is grandma, or rambunctious nieces and nephews to get first dibs on reviewing your story.
But here’s a little bit of advice: DON’T! And here’s why.
THEY AREN’T GOING TO BE OBJECTIVE They might be family. They might be friends. But that doesn’t mean that they are completely on board with your book or writing endeavors. Therefore, when you bring them something that you’ve written, they may not put their best foot forward into reviewing your story. In fact, many of them may be afraid of doing the following:
Hurting Your Feelings: Those who are super close to you probably don’t want to give their honest opinion because they may be afraid of ruining the relationship you may have with them and cause you to feel awful about what you put your heart and soul into for so long. This doesn’t mean that your story is not good; it’s something they may not know how to critique fairly. And oftentimes, they don’t know how to give constructive feedback about something they may know little or nothing about.
Agreeing to Read Your Story Even Though They May Not Feel Like It: Especially if you’ve written a novel and they are not that into books, they will probably either decline your request or say they will read it — and won’t. If you’ve written a children’s picture book, they may “breeze” through it and not give it much thought. And don’t forget about this being the holiday season; they may want to just eat, hang out, and relax. Reading your soon-to-be bestseller may feel like work to them.
Refusing to Pay Attention: And if you have a children’s picture book that needs some feedback from the little ones you think will enjoy it, then you may want to save yourself some time and energy. During the holidays, children are typically eating and roaming the house with other children, so getting them to sit down, listen, and comprehend your story may be a bit challenging.
SO WHO WILL GIVE YOU FAIR, CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK? Choose individuals who DON’T know you very well, at least on a personal level, and someone who has some expertise in or familiarity with your genre of writing. Find people who have read or read your genre of books on a regular basis and are familiar with its style, tone, length, audience, etc. These people can be any the following:
Parents: For children’s stories, they are the perfect reviewers. They will not only review your story based on its appropriateness, engagement, and ease of learning, but they can read it to their own children (or recommend it to other parents and children) . Plus, parents can provide a more relaxed, less distracting environment, such as a home, park, or library to share the story with them.
Children: Obviously, children are the best (and most honest) reviewers for children’s books — and in life. Since they are the target audience for these types of reads, their interaction alone with the story is a form of feedback that you should definitely note. Setting up a book reading at a school is a perfect event for receiving a well-rounded review of your book.
Teachers: Depending on the type of story you have, teachers are great resources as well. Oftentimes, they are looking for books to incorporate into their lesson plans, and your story may be a great addition to their classroom.
Librarians: Their knowledge is extremely helpful as they see all types of books come and go in a library. They generally know what books are popular, why they are engaging, and who’s reading them. So, taking a trip to your local library and talking to a librarian in your genre is a must.
Publishers, Blogs, and Book Reviewer Sites: Many publishers and bloggers specialize in writing, editing, and the publishing industry as a whole and offer a plethora of information. Here’s just some publishers, blog sites, and book reviewer sites that offer review services for your story:
Kirkus Review The Children’s Book Review Books4Your Kids Kids’ Book Review KidLit411 Reedsy