How to Maximize Constructive Writing Feedback


WOOHOO! Yesterday I received positive feedback from the Children & YA (CYA) writing competition for one of my children’s stories. ALANA TO THE RESCUE, Book 1 of my picture book series, obtained a perfect score from one judge and a near perfect score from the other, with an overall score of 95% … Both judges are published children’s writers… Thank you CYA!!

What’s my First Reaction?

Disbelief! …Was this a mistake? I scanned all four documents twice. It’s true … I actually did earn that score … Phew! My story has merit 🙂

Remember to Congratulate Ourselves

I celebrated my success with my usual WOOT, racing round the house. Later I guzzled a glass of shiraz and shared my news with anyone who’d listen. How many times as writers do we push forward, neglecting this vital step of self-congratulations. We worked hard to get to this point, often forgetting to congratulate ourselves 🙂

What Criteria does CYA apply to judge Children’s Writing?

Spelling and Grammar … Story … Characterisation …Writing technique … Reader enjoyability … and the X Factor.

What’s my HOT Tips for getting the Most from Constructive Feedback?

•    consider the calibre of the advice and their writing experience (10/10 for CYA)

•    read the comments or critique carefully and /or the score card.

•   reread and reflect on the feedback again after a few days, and  a few weeks

•    consider other opinions, critiques and reviews you’ve received and compare

•    leave it in the ‘bottom drawer’ for a few weeks to percolate

•    brainstorm … work out a practical plan of action based on research and advice

•    follow your writer’s intuition


What’s Next?

I’m working out what I need to change, edit or tweak. The biggest adjustments will be amping the characterization of my main character and the Illustrations Section of the picture book story board. Advice offered from publisher Tegan  Morrison at ABC Books … ‘Only add illustration suggestions that are NOT already mentioned in the text’.

Publishers are currently considering the same version of ALANA TO THE RESCUE I sent out months ago … I’m still in the running.

My Biggest Dilemma…

Should I contact those publishers NOW and explain my planned improvements?
Or wait till they contact me?

What about your past feedback?... How did you react? How did feedback change your rewrite or submission?

**A Special Thanks** to all those who’ve messaged me with awesome publishing opportunities this week.

I’m pursuing those exciting chances … Hope they’ll offer me the break into the Publishing World I need 🙂

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27 comments to How to Maximize Constructive Writing Feedback

  • Awesome Karen! I know you were disappointed you didn’t get shortlisted, but it just goes to show how high the bar was. So well done! (Just as a point of interest, in case you were curious, Monster Sister, which did get shortlisted, was just shy of 99%).

    I was very encouraged with the feedback I received for both stories I submitted and I’m glad to see you are too. It is such an awesome competition to provide writers with feedback. A fabulous opportunity.

    And of course, as you say, it’s now up to us to USE that feedback to rethink and rewrite our stories to make them the best they can be.

  • Thanks Jo for dropping by to share your results. I was stoked with 95%, one judging giving out 100%. Can’t believe you received 99%. A BIG congratulations to you. I’m still waiting for the results for JOSH AND THE IT. Now its up to us to make our stories the very best they can be. Wishing you every success!

  • That is such a great achievement, Karen. You should be delighted and inspired with that feedback. I love the titles of your picture books. They really sound great and I’m sure I’ll see them in book stores one day. Congratulations.

  • Congrats. I can’t wait to read Alana to the Rescue when it is available to the public as a published book x

  • Art Antonious

    Well Done Karen !!! “you ought to be congratulated” those words sound like an ad ! Lol
    Seriously, this is a fantastic result and wonderful news. We are very proud of your outstanding achievements Karen and share your excitement with you “Whooooo!!”
    Enjoy your success and celebrate your hard work.

  • Thanks so much Kaye. I wasn’t expecting that feedback, which makes it more sweeter.Glad you like my titles. But I’ve come up with “better” ones. I’ll be testing the waters soon 🙂

  • Hi Jackie, Thanks so much for dropping in. I better get crackin’ with those rewrites soon. The *feedback* has inspired me. Love the sound of “published book”.

  • Hi Art, Thanks so much for your awesome friendship and support. I’m getting so much closer now. I can almost taste that “Publishing Success.”

  • Heather Golding

    You ought to be extremely proud of yourself Karen for receiving such highly commended percentage scores for your character/children’s book writing! With the amount of work you put in, its hardly surprising that you are now obtaining such closer attention of publishers and editors in your desired quest to be published, let alone be recognised! Well done Karen! You go girl! WooHoo 🙂

  • That’s awesome news Karen, sounds like that books going to get snatched up in no time. If they like it to that percentage I wouldn’t send out notice of changes just yet, give them some time to consider and get back to you. You can always circulate it with other publishers as well.

    What a success!

  • Thanks so much Heather for your ongoing friendship and support. Feels like I’m finally unlocking the key to better writing and the promise of publishing 🙂

  • Thanks so much Charmaine for your awesome support. I’ve actually come up with two versions of the same story… Normal and Sci-Fi/ fantasy theme. I’ll rewrite the two versions and see where I go from there 🙂

  • Congratulations Karen, that’s such an awesome result. xx

  • Thanks Michelle, I’m still in awe of the result. Figuring out what to to next with the rewrite 🙂

  • Hey Karen, way to go. Positive scores does give you such a feeling of elation and encouragement. Run with it. I agree with Charmaine’ advice. I scored below my usual but better than anticipated for the particular mss submitted this year, so I too was rather bemused but delighted. Now for the even harder part 😉 rewrite.
    Congrats again.

  • Thanks Dimity, Wishing you all the best with maximizing your feedback to produce the BEST rewrite 🙂

  • Awesome results, Karen.

    The feedback sheets and judge comments are incredibly helpful.
    Congrats again on your scores 🙂

  • Thanks Renee for your supportive comment. I’m in awe how helpful the feedback sheets and judges comments are.
    Congratulations again in your third place position in the picture book category. Wishing you all the best with your rewrite.

  • That’s superb, Karen – you must really be on the right track.
    Personally, I wouldn’t contact publishers and tell them about proposed changes. It could come over that you send work that’s not ready to to be read by an editor, and they could then believe that you will always do this and be a nuisance – not the reputation you want. This is why it’s never a good idea to send a work to a lot of publishers at a time – always give yourself the opportunity to receive feedback and make changes before sending to new ones. Always keep some of your ‘top of the list’ publishers in reserve. Though all publishers would like to receive stories that are perfect and ready to print, I’m sure every editor is likely to ask the author to consider their own suggestions for changes.
    The publishing industry is reluctant to commit to manuscripts at present. Even after you’ve waited for your ms to reach the top of the pile and the editor loves it, they frequently seem to ‘sort of accept’ at present, but don’t issue contracts. A major publisher said 10 months ago ‘we like this story’ to one of mine …and they are still sitting on it, but I daren’t send it to others. And it’s not just lightly published authors, like me, that this is happening to. I have heard through the grapevine that one of Australia’s all time best selling children’s authors also has a publisher sitting tight on one of his works with no formal commitment. It’s a tough business for everyone.

  • Thanks Peter,
    For dropping by with your support, insight and advice. I’ve read your comment several times trying to take it all in. Good luck with your kid story too. Hope it finds a “home” soon 🙂

  • Great achievement, Karen. Well done! 🙂

  • Hi Cherie,
    Thanks so much for dropping by my blog with your encouraging words.
    Can’t wait to sit down and tweak this ‘manuscript’ 🙂

  • Lexie Mitchell

    Congratulations Karen. I am so pleased for you.

  • Thanks Lexie for your encouragement for my Kids picture book. Thanks too for your awesome support for my memoir too:)

  • […] YEE HAA! Scored 95% in CYA Writing Competition & awesome Advice from a Publisher […]

  • Graham Clements

    Well done Karen, perhaps the next publisher you submit it to will also rate it at a 100% and publish it.

  • thanks Graham for your fabulous support for my picture book. Next week I’m starting on the rewrite, determined to makes it “publishable”. Thanks too for your awesome support, sharing my link on my PlanBig project.

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