Critique Partner vs Beta Reader

  • Both will provide feedback on a manuscript 
  • A beta reader doesn’t have to be a writer. They evaluate a manuscript strictly from a reader’s perspective.  They may earmark an area of concern (like a critique partner) but they may lack the toolkit to help suggest corrections.  It’s best to give a beta a middle draft or final draft for evaluation, since this will be closest to the product readers consume and they provide an early view of how a larger group of readers will react. 
  • Critique partners, as fellow writers, are available to help trouble shoot during more phases of a writing process and are able to better evaluate what the concern areas might be along with solutions.

What is a Critique Partner?

A critique partner is a writer with whom one shares and critiques work on a regular basis. This process isn’t the same as co-write stories, because the manuscript isn’t written by both writers, but they should have overlapping ideas and motifs.  A critique partner often influences one’s writing in ways beyond the feedback shared because they can be a person one springboards ideas or troubled areas off of.  They have an inherent understanding of the writing process, which makes them able to offer specialized insights others may lack.

It’s common for writers to become each other’s critique partners, where the two writers exchange manuscripts for feedback.  Because the writer is often both the person receiving feedback as well as providing it, this series attempts to cover both sides of the giving/responding to feedback process.

Feedback is Not a Review

  • Whether a writer needs a critique partner or a beta reader, they are a trusted person within a writer’s circle.
  • They speak directly to a writer where a review speaks to other readers.  
  • They should treat a writer’s work with respect.  Acknowledge wins and suggest correction when pointing out areas to improve.
  • If one can’t provide constructive criticism, it’s appropriate to thank a writer but explain the manuscript isn’t for you.  No further explanation is required.