You may remember that a month ago I had a critique from The Literary Consultancy which I found quite hard to deal with. I know others have said the same, so I thought my reaction was normal. I took on board all your input and tried to be positive - but three weeks after receiving the critique, when I'd stopped being miserable, I still wasn't finding enough to work on.
So I wrote my own critique of the critique - and in the process began to think there really were things wrong with it. For example, TLC invite writers to pose specific questions in their covering letter if there's anything they want advice on. I'd posed three: one had been answered, one agreed with - as in 'yes you need to address that', which isn't much help - and one ignored. That didn't seem right. And I couldn't see why the reader was suggesting I should continue working on the book when she had only criticism for the style, characters, plot and structure. She praised the protagonist in general and one aspect of her character in particular (although she thought that needed more work), three connected scenes, and one sentence. I wasn't expecting fulsome praise from a critique, but with so little sense of what she thought was good about the book, and no sense at all that she found anything worthy of positive comment in my writing, I couldn't see why she thought I should go on. And some of her specific input was confusing, too, e.g. she criticised my style for being too 'chick lit' for the subject matter, then suggested some plot changes which as far as I could see were pure 'chick lit'.
So last week I wrote a two-page letter of complaint to TLC. And, bless them, they have come up trumps, with a thorough apology. Apparently my reader was doing her first job for TLC, and it wasn't up to scratch; also, they should have picked that up, but they didn't. So they have offered me a new critique or a 50% refund.
I'm pleased about that. But I really could have done without going through the last month of misery and woe, and I also could have done without the delay - I've had lots of time in August that I could have spent doing revisions, and now, whatever I decide, I'll be doing them in October or thereabouts when I'm likely to be madly busy with other work. A less robust person might have given up altogether on the basis of that critique, and I'm now quite scared about getting another one. But TLC do have a good reputation; I chose them carefully; and everyone makes mistakes. So I guess I'll take the plunge...