Finding Critique Partners

Our number one rule here at Sub It Club:

DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR WORK WITHOUT REVISING.

Yes, we have rules. Check them out! https://subitclub.wordpress.com/join-the-club/

I hope this isn’t news to you, but the first draft of your work is not a ready to send out copy. Neither is your second. Revising takes a lot of time. Probably more time than you think it should. Yes, I feel ya, revision takes a ton of energy and hard work. But you don’t have to go it alone. In fact, I’d be aghast if you did!

How much revision do you need to do? Well, every story and every writer is different. And different genres need varying elements. Do an internet search with the words revision or revising your manuscript along with your genre and you’ll find all sorts of advice. It’s also good to come up with a list of things to go over (and over!) Take a look at How Do You Know When You Manuscript Is Ready?  Of course, there are great writing books too, and reading in your genre is a must as well. Read! Read! Read!

To revise well you need to get the thoughts of others. Getting your work critiqued is part of the work that must be done to get your manuscript and/or artwork ready for submission. Sure,  your mom or your spouse or the kids can be helpful, but they love you and don’t want to hurt your feelings…or make you mad…or maybe they just don’t understand all of the elements needed to sell work in your genre.

What you need is the opinions of other working in your field. Sure, there are plenty of people who you can pay to do critiques for you from editors and agents to authors, but that can get expensive. It’s nice if you can do it but I personally can go through many rounds of critique and revision before I feel like my work is ready to send off, and that could get expensive quick! Besides, trading work with other writers or illustrators can not only give you great feedback to work with, it can help you learn about what your work needs in general and therefore help you turn out a better project in the long run when you learn to ask yourself those questions you notice you are asking others.

So, where to go to find those critique partners?

Online critique groups are abundant! Take a look at some of the links below. you can try joining one or more that are in your genre until you find the place that feels right to you. Some links are to sites that are specifically geared to critiquing while others are writing forums, which can be a great place to find critique partners. Look for people posting looking for a single trade or when they want to form a group. Here are some places to try:

Sub It Club’s Private Facebook Group – Members are always welcome to post query letters and pitches for critique right in the group! UPDATE 11/8/2014: Due to popular demand, Sub It Club has started our own Critique Partner Matchup Group open to writers of all genres and illustrators too. Members are welcome to post looking for trades, to form a group, or for whatever kind of critique they are needing from synopsis to full novel. Not ready to post? Maybe you’ll find someone else’s call that’s just right for you. Join us!

Verla Kay’s SCBWI Blueboard – This is a board for illustrators and children’s writers of all genres. There is a critique request board.

Absolute Write – Includes all genres of writing. Critiques are done in the forums in the AW Writing Lab.

Nathan Bransford’s Forums  –  Check out the Feedback Central part of the forum!

WriteOnCon – This free online children’s writers conference is once a year, but critique partner match up thread in the forum can still get some action.

Agent Query Connect  – There is a Want Ads section where writers post looking for partners. The forum has over 9000 members.

Critique Circle – A critique forum recommended by Sub It Club member Robyn Campbell. Over 3,200 active members. Sign up for a free account.

Scribophile – A very large critique group forum!

CP Seek – Another forum where you can register and join the forums to find critique partners. There are over 1000 members.

Ladies Who Critique – This is a match site for writers at all levels. It includes all genres. There are forums and members can contact each other directly. Do you have to be a lady? By the looks of the name of the site you do but I see no requirements!

Critique.org – Workshops and forums for all genres including screenwriting, songwriting, art, and photography.

Kingdom Writers – A critique group for Christian writers.

Romance Critters – A Yahoo group for those who are “actively and seriously pursuing a career in romance writing.”

Review Fuse – Currently accepting, “short stories, poetry, book chapters, and essays for review.”

SF Novelist – For writers of “hard science” science fiction.

Here’s a couple of great blogs that you can browse:

How About We CP? is a tumblr put together by agent Sarah Shimshamshiner You can search for partners by genre or submit your own profile. http://howaboutwecp.tumblr.com/post/47463182283/search-for-a-cp-by-genre   http://howaboutwecp.tumblr.com/post/47030401535/how-to-submit-your-own-how-about-we-cp-profile

Author Maggie Steifvater has a Critique Partner Love Connection that goes on in February but it looks like it is available to browse the whole year through. http://maggiestiefvater.com/blog/2014-critique-partner-love-connection/

Also:

If you belong to a genre specific association such and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, or Romance Writers of America they can help you connect with writers in your genre.

Check your local library, book stores, and art stores. Many times they host groups.

As you can see, there is no excuse for not finding critiques. There are plenty of opportunities out there! 

I found my first critique group through Verla Kay’s Blueboards. I was a little nervous at the time (okay, I was a lot nervous!) but it turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing. Many years later when my group faded out, I got brave and asked a few people that I’d gotten acquainted with online. As of late I’ve even tweeted when I needed a look at something and found a couple of great critique partners through Twitter! Where did you find your critique partner or group?

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About Heather Ayris Burnell

Full time mom. Part time librarian. Author of BEDTIME MONSTER. Creator of Sub It Club. Curator of the Monster Lists of Picture Book Agents & Publishers. Always fooling around on Twitter @heatherayris. KICK! JUMP! CHOP! coming fall 2017 from Sterling Publishing.
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15 Responses to Finding Critique Partners

  1. shiela fuller says:

    Right now I am participating in nonfiction Archaelogy with Kristen Fulton. The ladies who all took this month long nonfiction journey with me have become invaluable critique partners.

  2. lje1 says:

    Heather, If everyone followed this rule, fewer editors would close to unsolicited submissions. Awesome advice and great list of resources! And critique partners are not only great for helping you polish your manuscripts, they’re awesome networking resources and most become lifelong friends.

    I found my first critique group when I was a children’s librarian and invited an author to speak. When she found out I dreamed of being a writer, she invited me to her critique group. That was the best thing I ever did. Friends from that group are now NY Times Bestselling writers, Pushcart Prize winners, and most are multi-published, including me. I doubt that would have happened if they hadn’t introduced me to SCBWI, where I found another crit group specifically for my children’s writing. One of the members in the SCBWI group introduced me to her editor, which led to my first book contracts.

    When I moved, I reached out to SCBWI and soon had new critique partners. Now I’m part of four critique groups. Two in-person, one online, and one Round Robin by mail. Sometimes it’s hard keeping up with all the critiques, but it’s well worth it. The best thing is going to conferences together, sharing writing advice & books, watching your CPs get book contracts, doing book signings together, and celebrating each others’ successes. This year several us will be headed to BEA to sign. We’ve all come a long way, and it’s all because of critiquing!

    If I can encourage new writers to do one thing, it’s find a good critique group. Reading craft books and attending conferences is wonderful, but getting experienced eyes to go over your manuscript is priceless.

  3. elsie elmore says:

    What a great list of resources for writers! Having CP’s that you trust will help you produce a better product.

  4. I also like Critique Circle, Heather. It’s good to have trusted beta readers with the MG/YA stuff, too. I’m going round and round with them on mine now. Sloow process. But you’re right. Revise, revise, revise! 🙂 Fabulous thoughts here, pal. Now how about that post on Yes, isn’t always the right answer! 🙂

  5. Heather, If everyone followed this rule, fewer editors would close to unsolicited submissions. Awesome advice and great list of resources! And critique partners are not only great for helping you polish your manuscripts, they’re awesome networking resources and many become lifelong friends.

  6. Any resources for critique partners for illustrators?

    • I searched very hard for critique groups specifically for illustrators, Amelia but didn’t find them like I did for writers. The places I would recommend for an illustrator are SCBWI, there you can get help connecting with other illustrators. Verla Kay’s Blueboards has boards for illustrators. You could post looking for critique partners there. We also have quite a few illustrators in our private Sub It Club Facebook group and members are always welcome to post looking for critique partners. https://www.facebook.com/groups/486894588029505/

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