Readers are hard to come by, and good, trusted readers are almost impossible to find. If you disrespect your readers or trivialize the effort they put in, they may not want to read your work again. Worse, if they do read for you again they may not give you their honest opinion — either subconsciously, out of a desire to avoid another bad experience, or on purpose, to punish you for being a jerk.
Trusted readers are people who show a consistent capacity for providing useful feedback. Maybe they simply have a good batting average; maybe their batting average isn’t great, but they’re particularly sharp about plot logic or character development. Such readers are rare, and should be treated accordingly.
Trusted readers come in two flavors: people who can reliably respond about the effect a story had on them, and people who can articulate why something in a story didn’t work. The difference between the two is that the people in the second group are almost always writers themselves. While honest readers are valuable, professional-grade writers who are willing to give you feedback are worth their weight in gold.
If you have the choice, get feedback from as many readers as you can before asking for feedback from writers. If you’re confused about any reader reactions, the writers might be able to help you solve those problems, but the reverse will probably not be the case.
— Mark Barrett