As an editor and coach, I’m frequently asked by writers when they should level up from free and low-cost feedback (critique groups, webinars, and classes) to more expensive forms of feedback (workshops, private editors, even MFA programs). Some are newbies who don’t understand the feedback landscape. Other writers have been burned by overly critical MFA programs, bad editing experiences, or critique group dramas—and they’ve learned that while some mistakes hit your pocketbook, the costliest ones can damage your manuscript.
Often these problems have one common cause: You’ve asked the right question of the wrong person.
I tend to distrust critique groups, beta readers, and the more formal and often expensive bevy of “experts” who read and often influence the work of novelists. I want to ask: “Who’s writing this book anyway?” Or “Why do you need a staff to get this book completed?” Or, “Do you really need the pacifier of writing by committee.”
Having said that, if you think critiques are a positive thing, this article does a good job of separating the wheat from the chaff and exploring your best options.