I originally shared this post on my personal blog, but wanted to share it on Operation Awesome as I feel very strongly about this topic.
Without my CPs, I would be lost. They steer me in the right direction when my plot is going off course. They lift me up when I'm feeling low about my ability and are always good for a laugh or smile when I need it. Writing can be a solitary job, but it doesn't have to be if you lean on the very supportive writing community.
I recently read a post on a writing forum where a person was rejoicing after getting a full request. It was awesome! The author got so many comments of congratulations, and I loved it. But then as I read further down in the thread my stomach started to knot. The person had written the entire MS, and queried it, without any beta readers or critique partners.
Now don’t get me wrong, this author could be the next Hemingway for all I know, but in my personal opinion not having another person look at your manuscript is NOT the best idea. Even if the story is pristine, it could always use another set of eyes to locate a misspelled word or a missing comma. Or on a grander scale, where the dialogue is awkward or the pacing slow.
My point? It always helps to have other people look at your work. Sure your sister and Grandma can give you great feedback, but what really helps is having another writer take a look at your manuscript. Someone who understands the ferocity of the publishing world and can help you make your work a hundred, maybe even a thousand times, better!
So where do you find a beta reader or critique partner?
1) You can start on the writing forums like AgentQueryConnect or AbsoluteWrite and a new one I recently found, CP Seek.
2) YA writer Maggie Stiefvater has a critique partner hook-up on her website as does former literary agent, Mary Kole.
3) Local writing associations like Romance Writers of America (RWA) and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) also have local websites which allow you to connect with other writers in your community.
4) Twitter is an amazing place to find like minds! Just type in #amwriting or #writingtip and you’ll see how many talented authors tweet every day. Some may even offer up tweets looking for critique help.
The best thing about finding a really good beta reader or critique partner? They get you. They understand the daunting process of getting published, and can be a great source of not only inspiration, but support as you write the next amazing novel.
Have I missed another place where you can locate a critique partner? If so, please let me know in the comments.