“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

The Publishing Step You’ve Probably Forgotten

Publishing is the most important step to becoming a writer. Writers are people who write things for others, not just for themselves or the benefit of their computer hard drive. If you want to become a writer, you need to publish.

However, besides the actual writing, there’s one step in the publishing process that’s so essential that if you forget it, you’re almost certainly going to have major issues.

The Publishing Step You’ve Probably Forgotten

What, then, is this important but often overlooked step?

Feedback. Lots of feedback.

The Forgotten Step

I recently worked with an author to publish his third book. He’s a pretty amazing guy, a man who has been doing groundbreaking work for over twenty years, someone who is internationally recognized as a top person in his field. He had already written two books about his unique approach.

Unfortunately, the books… well, how can I say it… they were boring, dry, and academic. Nothing like the fascinating stories he told about his actual work.

“Did you get any feedback on your books before you published them?” I asked him one day. “Did you have a critique group or an editor look over them?”

“I had an editor look over them for grammar and spelling mistakes. Is that what you mean?”

“Sort of. Did you ask anyone to give you feedback on the content before publishing.”

“No,” he said simply.

“Well, that would have probably been a good idea.”

Why Every Writer Needs Feedback, and Not Just from an Editor

All writers need feedback. Why?

Because you are the worst judge of your own writing. (Share that on Twitter?)

As you write, you inevitably draw extremely close to your project. You know each character as well as your best friend. You’ve read the piece so many times, the jokes you wrote in the first draft are no longer funny.

In fact, you become so close to your project that you lose all objectivity. The truth is you can no longer see whether it’s “good” or “bad,” interesting or boring, well written or poorly written.

You need outside feedback. Call them your critique partners, beta readers, writing group, or your help-me-because-I-don’t-know-what’s-wrong-with-my-book club. It doesn’t matter. Just get feedback.

How to Find Critique Partners to Workshop Your Stories

If you enrolled in an MFA in Creative Writing, you would find yourself in more writing workshops than you’d ever want. But for everyone else, where can you find a writing group or critique partner? Here are four ideas:

Meetup.com. I found my first writing group through meetup.com, and was very impressed with the level of the writers involved. See if there’s a group in your area by going to writing.meetup.com.

WritersandEditors.com. Pat McKnee has put together a fantastic list of local and regional writing groups, organized by state, at WritersandEditors.com.

Becoming Writer. In December 2014, we started experimenting with developing a writing group of our own, and so far I’ve been surprised at how close the community has become and the level of improvement of the writers involved. You can find out more about the online writing group here and signup for the waiting list.

Start one of your own. When I didn’t find a critique group in my area, I started my own! If you have friends who are writers, reach out and see if they’ll meet to critique each other’s writing.

Or even email a group of friends, writers or not, and ask them to give you feedback on your pieces. Feedback from non-writers can often be more helpful than feedback from writers.

Publishing is Just the First Step to Becoming a Writer

No writer does it alone. While your fellow writers are a means to getting your writing pieces to publication quality, they’re also an end in and of themselves.

Having the support of a community of writers is not only one of the most rewarding parts of being a writer, your community will also help motivate and encourage you to keep writing, especially when things get difficult.

So if you want to get published, if you want to be a writer, find your writing community!

How about you? Have you found a writing group that you trust yet? Let us know in the comments section.


As you prepare to publish, share what you’ve written with a friend or a fellow writer, asking them for their feedback. When they respond, make sure to remember that “you are the worst judge of your own writing” and don’t argue!

Leave a comment after you shared your piece, letting us know that you followed through!

Good luck!

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • sd

    My sister has turned out to be my best beta reader. She goes over my manuscript with me word by word. It’s amazing. She doesn’t live near me so we do it over the phone, about an hour at a time. With my last novella, I sent it to about 6 friends who agreed to read it critically. Their feedback was so helpful. In some cases two or more of them argued over a couple of aspects, and I finally went with my gut. I will use the same method for my next manuscript, plus I recently became a member of the Toronto Writers Collective and met someone there who OFFERED to read my next work! Yay!

    • bluecave

      I can relate to this on the editor’s side, as my boyfriend is writing a novel and I help him to edit the content and grammar. This has been such a learning experience for me and it helps me to become a better writer.

  • Jason

    This is so right. No writer does it alone.

  • LaCresha Lawson

    Awesome article. Never thought about this step. I do ask what people think. I need to do this step alot more.

    • bluecave

      I have found this to be an incredible tool to experience other perspectives and to gauge how well I got my point across. It has led me to make important edits to my work. It sharpens my writing and teaches me to look for things I might not otherwise look for.

  • bluecave

    I am on writer’s cafe and wattled. These are two very different sites. In fact I found that a poem rating near the top of my works on writer’s cafe is on the bottom on wattpad. I like experiencing the two very different environments. It encourages me to stretch in a variety of ways. I love reading other talented authors and having my eyes opened to all the things available when it comes to crafting words. And nothing compares to hearing a reader detail a positive experience had while reading my very own words….how intimate and fulfilling.

  • Skryb

    I really appreciate what you wrote. I have been reading Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, and he, too, said that no one really discusses the language of writing. Great post. Also, thank you for the tip on meetup.com. That never really occurred to me and writing is such a lonely luxury…

  • Kenneth M. Harris

    Hi Joe, How are you? I have been in a lot of writing group where we critique each other’s work, but the write practice is the first group that I trust. The feed back is awesome because I found that, though, I’m not that great, but I am competent. I used to didn’t think that I was competent. Through the writepractice, I see a little progress and that means so much to me. You can’t do this alone and you need or WE need each other. With all of these feedbacks, you can’t help but get better. An ounce of support, critiques and suggestions on your writing is better than nothing. KEN

  • Vincent

    I did get feedback from two beta readers. I did it a bit different, I sent it to them as soon as I was finished. I asked them to tell me if it flowed and if the story interested them. They both said yes and gave me some constructive criticism that I actually ensured I did. I know I am new to this and no doubt need feedback. Their points helped me improve the run of the story.

  • Callie

    Ugh, if only! I have the most flaky family, and very few friends, but none of them will commit! My own husband and children won’t do it, which really makes me feel unsupported. But they all support me verbally…and my husband is supporting me both verbally and financially since I don’t work.
    I thought it would be so easy to find beta readers and/or a writing group, but I’m pretty discouraged at this point (now working on my third book). Now that we have moved to a new state it’s completely overwhelming, and with everything else I need to learn about the area I’m living in, it’s been moved to the middle of my list.
    Thank you for this story, it gives me an idea of where to start at least, and for that I’m truly grateful. Maybe meetup.com will be my saving grace…

    • svford

      I get ya, Callie. My hubby is the same, supportive financially and verbally. Thing is, he hates to read. Ha! Of all the luck, right? Best of luck finding a group. Bad case scenario, I’ll read for you. You read for me, we will start our own on-line group! Honest. Have a good week!

  • Cookie Monster

    I completely agree on this. The world is full of different kinds of people with their own different opinions on things, INCLUDING writing, and if you can’t take the heat, then you need to get out of the kitchen.

  • Marlene Mcpherson

    From what I have read I like. Feedback will bring about the polishing of any novel: but I would like some assurance that the work of the author will not be used. This might seemed to be trite because others might have said it but I am new to this site and it is important to me. On another note I like this site. It is focused, the font is big enough and the commentaries are on point.

  • Milady

    I have three feedbackers: two girlfriends and guy friend. I completely agree with the fact we all need somebody else’s point opinion in our work -as we as creators know exactly what’s happening; but the people who will be doing the reading might not find it as easy to figure out as they go. I also believe it is much better to get someone outside your circle to give the feedback as friends can sometimes be too kind and currently working on that, joining writing communities and giving myself a bit of time to get used to them. So far these emails you’ve been sharing had been a great help for a newbie like me, thanks Joe!

  • Cynthia

    Hi there. I made the mistake of giving my story to my daughter-in-law to read. I really did not know I was a sensitive person until I had to sit through her critique. I returned to writing but have kept mostly to myself. I think I could find the courage to join a small group of like-minded people to hang out with. Thank you.

  • Buddy

    I’ve recently asked a number of “Ideal Readers” to read work I send them. I have three commitments, waiting on a fourth. Ala Stephen King’s advice.

  • Rita Williams

    I have not yet got anything ready to publish as I have only written a couple of chapters. I have however, shared them with one of my daughters who is a published author.

  • Lady Rose

    Along the lines of your suggestion, just the other day I joined a monthly writer’s critique meet up and will be attending tomorrow. Need to earn my stripes by participating in it before offering my work for critique — group rule. So, I am happy about that. But, I am posting on my blog about twice a week. Any ideas about quick turnaround critiques?

  • Erik Bressler

    This article presents a great tool that is often underutilized. When working on a Senior Thesis and a Law Review Article, my greatest tool was a critique partner. The best critique partner that I have worked with is my wife. I’m fortunate that she gives me the good with the bad in terms of feedback, I have often had bad experiences when using family as critique partners because they tended to look past the bad and focus on the good.

  • SK

    After many failed attempts at finding a group that perfectly fits me in the “help-me-because-I-don’t-know-what’s-wrong-with-my-book club.” category, I finally found one that has a mixed bag of people willing to give honest feedback. While not all read my genre, they still see things I have missed. Finding this group was a blessing!