In light of events over the past week, this post is dedicated to critique etiquette. As a writer you must be able to accept criticism in order to improve in your craft. I once heard this great piece of advice regarding criticism: If it is false, ignore it, if it contains some truth, consider the source, and if it is true, learn from it. Nothing turns off agents and editors more than a defensive writer. Here are a few tips in order to avoid over-reacting to a harsh critique.
* Take a deep breath - This really works. Before your review or meeting, take a deep breath and relax. A bad review isn't the end of the world, it's only the beginning of the re-write.
* Read the critique then put it down for a little. Go for a walk and think about the areas that were pointed out that need improvement. Is there some truth to the critique? How can you improve your writing?
*Never react in anger, it only leads to trouble. An email shot off in anger, or a response quickly spoken can never be retrieved, and in fact can damage your image as a professional. Instead, think of a polite response. If you can't think of one at the time, wait a day or so, maybe what you have to say is best left unspoken.
*Always thank an editor/agent for their time. A handwritten note goes a long way. If you don't have time, even a simple email helps establish you as a professional.
*Be willing to help others. The publishing business is harsh. Take every opportunity you have to help others, you'll be well received for all of your efforts, plus it makes the process so much more enjoyable.
*Finally, if you do receive a bad review....take a few moments to sulk privately, then fire-up your computer and start the re-write...you'll be glad you did!