Like many writers, I have critique partners and have been in multiple critique groups. My experiences have been good ones, where I gained many insights that have improved my writing. With the availability of critique partners just a mouse click away, what can be gained by submitting a manuscript critique to the workshop leaders at the Philadelphia Writers Conference?

I’ve submitted manuscripts almost every time I have been to the PWC, and I have found three main benefits to using the manuscript critique option.

1. Experienced Eyes

While I love my critique partners, we are all mostly on the same level craft-wise and where we are in our publication journey. The PWC critique option allows you to get your work in front of authors with more experience and expertise. Their craft level is higher and they also read the manuscript with a knowledgeable eye towards publication. They will comment on details and angles a less experienced writer might miss. This sort of personal feedback from a professional is valuable to novice and more experienced writers alike, and the PWC critique is a unique opportunity to get it.

2. Focused Feedback

The workshop leaders are there to teach a specific element of craft or business. They therefore focus their critique on their specialty. For example, I often take a Character and a Plot course at the PWC. I will often submit the same piece to both leaders, so I will get focused feedback on both character and plot. I can then combine those two specific angles of critique in my revisions.

3. Opportunities Opened

Whenever you put your words out in the world, you create opportunities for yourself. One year, my workshop leader enjoyed my manuscript submission so much that he shared it with his publisher. She liked it so much she told me to send it to her when I was finished! It’s not finished yet, so the story ends here for now, but this is an opportunity I would not have had if I hadn’t submitted.

It takes time and effort to prepare your manuscript for critique submission. Those of us who have queried before will find this a pretty standard practice, and likely have the manuscript in the correct format already. The hardest part is often deciding WHICH 2,500 words to send. Most people send their openings, because they are so crucial to success, but which excerpt you send depends on your goals in submitting. I have submitted for critique almost every year I have gone to the conference, and have never regretted the effort put into it.

One of the wonderful benefits of attending a conference like the Philadelphia Writers Conference is this chance to get personal feedback from knowledgeable professionals, and I have found it worth every penny. And now I am off to decide what to submit this year!

Kerry Gans is the author of The Witch of Zal.  Visit her website at