You only get one chance to make a first impression, right?
It's true for dating. It's true for job interviews. And its true for...
wait for it...
Recently, during a phone conversation with my agent, I asked when in the process is it best for me to send work to her. I found her answer brilliant.
She said, "It's up to you. But just remember that you only get my fresh eyes once."
I hadn't thought of it that way.
Writers need critiquers because we need eyes that are not so "close" to the story. We need "unbiased" readers. However, each time a critiquer reads a piece they become closer and closer to it, whether they realize it or not. And THEN if they actually contribute to some of the revision, you are dealing with a VERY close critiquer.
I might go as far as saying that having someone look at your piece more than twice is dangerous.
So, what are my tips for keeping my critiquers "fresh"?
1) Belong to more than one critique group. Of course, these are time consuming, however maybe belong to one in-person group and one online group. And remember, critiquing other's work will informs your's, too.
2) Have a few critiquers who are better than you. That sounds weird, but I have a few published friends who I admire so much. And once in awhile, when a piece gets to a certain level, I ask one of them if they can read it. But remember, always respect other people's time. Do not abuse this relationship.
3) Pay for critiques. There are people who do this sort of thing. Find them online. Find them at conferences and workshops. Splurge.
4) Use Rate Your Story. It's a free service. And although you can't be guaranteed a thorough critique, it's a start.
5) Don't rush to submit. Do the work. Do the heavy lifting first. Don't abuse your submitting power. It's better to delay giving your manuscript to ANYONE and wait til its ready. Put your best work out there ALWAYS!