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Writers, don't get fleeced by "paid feedback" services!

And avoid burdening your friends and family with your MS

It seems like no matter what artistic branch you practice, there is a healthy crop of people out there who are ready and willing to take your money in return for basically nothing. Although the details vary depending on the art form, they all basically come down to the same thing: "I will evaluate your work for $X."

Typically the person promising these services has a long, yet peculiar, list of credentials. They probably portray themselves as grizzled veterans of the scene, with credits from a lot of shows and movies that you haven't actually seen, or only vaguely remember. They will also include lots of testimonials from past students, very few of which will be names you have heard of. 
 
Here is how it works: you send in your manuscript, they read it and evaluate it and send it back with their feedback. But this person's feedback is worthless. And yet, they will charge you a lot of money for this so-called "service."

If you want feedback on your work, there are plenty of legitimate places to get it. Writing workshops abound, and although I personally feel like they are a den of wolves, many people feel that workshopping their manuscripts has been helpful. 
 
Taking courses and reading books on the subject is also helpful. This puts you in the position of evaluating your own work, which can be difficult on many levels. But it also teaches you how to do better in the future. 
 
Friends and family are probably the worst source of feedback on your work. Your friends and family won't tell you, so I will: they don't want to read your stuff. It's a burden. And when they read it, they won't give you their real feedback, because they don't want to hurt your feelings. Your unpublished manuscript may feel like a cherished newborn to you, but to everyone else it's a big bowl of toxic waste to be avoided at all costs.
 
One of the best ways to get solid feedback on your writing is to join an online community. You can submit your writing for other people to critique, frequently in exchange for your own critiques of other writers' work. (Incidentally, critiquing the work of other writers is a great way to hone your own writing skills.)  Of these services, I have heard the most and best feedback about Scribophile, which works on a karma points system, and has built a great community of savvy writers who are serious about the work.