Would You Want to Skype a Critique?

Today’s blog is sort of a mini-survey. Along with my own writing, I’m still doing plenty of critiques for other writers these days. What with the nature of the world, I do a lot of my work online, via email and with much neater feedback in Word than I could ever do with my own handwriting. 🙂 I typically make plenty of comments in the manuscript margins, and I type up the overall critique in a separate file.

Pretty much like I talk about in The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide.

But I’ve been wondering. I know there are plenty of writers who critique together online. I’ve started doing that myself, on top of my in-person critique group, and it works well for me. I only miss the coffeehouse atmosphere a little. On the other hand, I think there are still writers who are most comfortable face-to-face, actually hearing their critique delivered out loud, even if it’s the same one they take home on paper to look at later, during revision. I think they feel more happy with the chance to ask immediate questions, get things clarified, and do a bit of brainstorming about specific problems that have been worrying them.

So then I thought…Skype.

I hear wonderful things about Skype school visits. I’m getting close to hiring Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard at Mentors for Rent, to help me pull together some samples I want to send out. That consulting session will be via Skype, and I’m looking forward to it. Both Lisa and Laura are “there” at the conference, and I think it’ll be much easier to have a three-way conversation when I can sort of see who’s talking when. Easier, more relaxed, and–I’m guessing–very helpful. Skype mentoring.

And maybe Skype critiquing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let’s make it all hypothetical. If you were going to hire a freelance editor to critique part or all of your book, would you like the idea of being able to talk to them in person, as well as get their written feedback? Would you, if you were already paying a page-rate for the critique, think it worthwhile to pay for an additional hour of time, to get that face-to-face delivery of the critique? Or would you just feel like it was more technology you  had to figure out and equip yourself for?

Please do leave a comment with your thoughts. All opinions welcome!


  1. YEs. I think this is a great idea. Why not??


  2. debra warner says:

    I would want both. I have all my books read hard copy because I enjoy learning from the corrections and I learn from the verbal feedback. I need to ask questions.


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks, Debra. I always give a written critique, because I think they’re invaluable during revision (especially if you don’t revise right away), but I think time for questions & answers can help, too.


  3. Lani Longshore says:

    I wouldn’t mind having a Skype critique from someone I’ve met in person, but not if I’m hiring a stranger. I don’t want to deal with the awkward “first date” scenario while I’m trying to keep myself open to potentially painful feedback about my project.


    • beckylevine says:

      Lani, that’s a really good point–thanks! Do you think it would make a difference to you if you had the option to choose the Skype critique AFTER you’d gotten the written feedback–say if you had questions and wanted to do some brainstorming around the editor’s ideas?


  4. Dave Swords says:

    Becky, I think the Skype critique idea is great. I think it would work best if you had an hour of face-toface after having received a written critique. It would give the recipient a chance to ask questions and get instand responses. I see no drawbacks.


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