About the Book | Reviews

"Joining a good critique group, writer’s group, or writer’s workshop is often a frightening move for a beginning (or not-so-beginning) writer. Cole’s enjoyable book speaks to the good and bad of both sides of this process, making this a great book for both teachers and participants."
- Grub Street Daily, March 2011

"With vigor and spunk, [Cole] one-by-one takes on issues writers face when receiving feedback and shares tips for coping with cutting comments and how to make the most of feedback that's dead on…Best for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction, great for editors and workshop leaders, and certainly an interesting read for other sorts of writers, this book is a strong addition to any writer's bookshelf."
Freelance-Zone.com, 2010 [read full review]

"Cole's writing sparkles with humor and honesty. She shows what works while celebrating growth she has seen. She shows that the power of positive feedback is amazing. Advice from eleven well-known authors reinforces the importance of using feedback being as a tool, not a mandate. Toxic Feedback makes me crave the kinds of responses that will expand my mind and make me productive."
Writer Advice, 2009 [www.writeradvice.com/hooked.html]

"I'm gobbling up this book! It's empowering. It gives internal authority to the writer. It's not common, and it's not dry and academic. It's good sense with lots of examples, anecdotes and positive support. If you care about feedback for your writing, if you attend a writers group, if you lead a critique group, if you've ever had doubts about your work, you need this book."
Hope Clark, Funds for Writers http://www.fundsforwriters.com (Listed as one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer's Digest)

"The format of the book is most attractive, including boxed insert tips as well as end-of-chapter profiles of published writers and question-and-answer pages from both Cole herself and her interviews of other writers (Grace Paley and Ted Kooser probably the most well-known). Always, Cole appears to be the sort of writer, excuse me, feedback provider, another writer would like to have—snappy, loaded with experience, ready with personal nuance for even the hoariest advice, off the cuff, and other good things. In a distinct sense, the writing experience of this guidebook authorizes itself in the best possible way: through the personality of its guide ... I can't imagine a better guide to [feedback's] rewards and perils than this fine book."
American Book Review, May/June, 2007
click to read entire review

"Cole's book is certainly needed; the feedback process merits far more attention than it usual receives."
The Writer magazine

"Drawing on her experience as the leader of a long-running writing workshop, Cole addresses the delicate process of giving and receiving constructive criticism. She offers helpful techniques for writers who want to respond productively to one another's work, incorporate such responses into their own writing, and perhaps even run their own workshops. Though the focus is on informal settings and exchanges among friends, Cole's suggestions are useful for students and teachers as well...Cole enlivens her compositional and pedagogic advice by interspersing interviews with writers on the order of Grace Paley, Khaled Hosseini, and Jennifer Cruise. These segments, along with many other portions of Toxic Feedback, can stand alone and would spur discussion in any writing group. Strongly recommended for academic libraries and public libraries supporting writers."
Library Journal, © Reed Business Information

"Toxic Feedback should be required reading for every writer. Whether you're a novice or professional writer, Cole's advice will change the way you give and receive feedback, and make your writing much stronger in the process. I only wish Toxic Feedback was available when I started writing."
- Tim Bete, director of the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop and author of Guide to Pirate Parenting

"Friend and fellow AWA [Amherst Writers and Artists] writing group leader Laurie Baron recommended this one. And now I recommend it - particularly for those who facilitate writing groups, and also for those who need to sift through their reactions to all those 'constructive critiques' offered by friends and fellow writers… [Cole] alternates her own pithy (and humorous) wisdom on the subject with interviews of published authors. She asks them to relate their worst toxic feedback story and then invites them to offer a word of encouragement or wisdom for the writing journey. Grace Paley, Ted Kooser, Khaled Hosseini, Jody Picoult and Julia Alvarez and Don Johnson (author of my favorite Henry the Bear/ alias Thoreau picture books!) are among them."
For Writers and Readers
Click http://forwritersandreaders.com to read full review

"Let me just say that it's a 'MUST READ' for anyone who is considering the career as a writer and for every writer looking for healing from toxic feedback. It's one of those books that makes you wish you could meet the author in person, take a few of her workshops, and then spend the weekend in a writer's retreat--with her--chatting about everything writing."
Click here to read Joni
's online interview: http://thedabblingmum.blogspot.com/2007/02/interview-with-joni-b-cole.html

"[Cole's] writing voice is very engaging, very friendly. She reminds me of some of my favorite writing authorities; Natalie Goldberg, Annie Lamott and of course, Stephen King. And as these accomplished authors do, Cole actually imparts useful wisdom, not just on finding and understanding feedback, but on the general process of writing. …Cole laid out the chapters in her book Toxic Feedback in a logical sequence, but each one has the lovely advantage of being able to stand-alone. She also gives the reader an additional bonus by including anecdotes by several well-known authors such as Jennifer Cruise, Ernest Herbert and Julia Alvarez. These supplementary pieces add clarification of the main point of individual chapters."
Blogcritics.org, Mary K. Williams, features editor, Hot Psychology Magazine. For full review, click http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/09/25/213740.php

"Toxic Feedback is a guide to making feedback work for the writer, with sections on getting and processing criticism, responding to others
' work, and setting up a writing workshop that doesn't degenerate into a playground for the participants' egos. Each chapter contains a wealth of anecdotes, and many feature interviews with successful authors. Judging by her title, one might expect Cole to adhere to the "affirmation only" school of criticism, in which writing workshops become all too similar to support groups. ("Your story is great. It really expresses your truth." "Yours too!") But Toxic Feedback is actually funny and tough-minded, with insights about getting and giving feedback that can be applied to all walks of life."
Seven Days, Vermont 's Alternative Weekly, Burlington, VT. For full review, click http://www.sevendaysvt.com/nc/columns/underlines-book/2006/critical-conditions.html)

"Managing feedback--it's something we do all day long, perhaps not even realizing it. So why not see the positive side of feedback—even if it's toxic! That's the perspective of Toxic Feedback's Joni B. Cole. As a talk show host I've had an opportunity to speak with many writers and one theme is constant--feedback. How necessary the feedback is in order to write, rewrite, rewrite and so on. Learning how to best process this feedback is key in making one's writing as sharp as possible. Toxic Feedback also speaks to those who are doling out the (sometimes) toxic feedback. It cautions that the way something is said can make all the difference in the writer's world. What would have happened if Khaled Hosseini had given up and not had The Kite Runner published? Thank goodness we'll never know! Joni has included stories from Khaled to fiction writer Jodi Picoult, plus many others. You will know that you are not alone in your quest for publication and that all feedback can be seen in a positive light!"
Robin Kall, host, "Reading With Robin" WHJJ, Providence, RI

"…the book is so helpful, likable and even kind that it deserves two thumbs (and the rest of those typing fingers) up...If you know someone who is on the verge of declaring himself or herself a writer, about to take the first steps toward sharing work with other readers, this book could be a real help."
Valley News, Lebanon, NH

"Don't avoid the valuable resource of input. Let Cole's humor and support give you the courage to make the most of this powerful resource."
Long Ridge Writers Group(http://www.longridgewritersgroup.com)

"Title of Note," selected by ForeWord This Week, a weekly email news service covering independent publishing of interest to booksellers, librarians, and other trade professionals.

book cover
Buy the book!


"THE most useful book for writers I've read since Anne LaMott's Bird by Bird."

Rebecca Longster, writing instructor, Purdue University

"As soon as I started reading, I didn't put it down. Cole's approach—honest, open, humorous, direct—is refreshing, valuable and something not to miss."

Vicki Forman, creative writing instructor, University of Southern California

"Toxic Feedback totally reinvigorated my interest in my writing group"

E.Morgan, writer and teacher

Copyright © Joni B. Cole. All rights reserved.