Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Should You Join an Online Critique Group?

Should you join an in-person or online critique groups? Let’s talk about both types.

In-Person Critique Groups:

Where do you find one? This isn’t always easy, but if you know where to look, you’ll have better odds at finding an in-person group.

-Google your city and add terms like critique group, beta readers, crit group, writers group, etc.

-Look for ads in bookstores, coffee shops, and libraries.

-Try Craigslist or your local newspaper but make sure the group meets in a public place. You never know who’s posting the listing and you want to stay safe.

-Check to see if there’s a national organization for your genre like Romance Writers of America for romance writers and find out if they have a local chapter near you.

What should you expect? Typically, every group has a set of rules that dictate how often you meet, where, and how the critiques will be done. Sometimes, the group takes one or more chapters home from one writer’s work. When you meet up again, the group discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the chapter(s) read and offers suggestions. The problem with this is it’ll take quite a while to get through one manuscript and only one writer has benefitted. To avoid this, some groups take turns with the exchanges. For example, during the month of November, they’ll meet once a week and work on all the first chapters.

Online Groups:

Where do you find one? This can be tricky, but it’s not impossible.
-Google your genre and terms like critique group, beta readers, crit groups, writers groups, etc.

-Search Yahoo groups and ask if you can join a particular group.

-Network with your blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media friends. Find out if they know of any groups who are accepting new members.

-Create your own group. Advertise through social media saying you’re starting a critique group and then scrutinize the writers who contact you. Use a questionnaire (you can even use mine) to discover if you’d make a good fit or exchange the first five to ten pages and see if you enjoy the writer’s style.

What should you expect? Pretty much anything goes here. The biggest issue is that you should have some sort of rules and expectations set up or things might get really messy. Know yourself and what you need out of a group. Some people prefer to stick with the same genre they write. Others will critique any genre they read, even if they don’t write it.

-Do you want a group that’s at the same level (like all beginners) or a mixed level group?
-If you’re a beginner, will you feel intimidated by the more advanced writers?

-If you’re an intermediate or advanced writer, do you have the patience to critique the work of a beginner?

-How often do you want to exchange work?

-How much time can you put into the group?

-Are you open to criticism?

As you may know, I’m matchmaking critique groups. The deadline to send me a questionnaire is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2011. I can’t guarantee I’ll find a match for everyone, but I’m going to try. If I don’t find a match for you, use this post as a reference so you can search for the perfect critique group for you.

Lynnette Labelle


  1. i have a writer friend that i trade manuscripts with, but mostly i rely on my on-line crit group. i've never met them, but they're amazing, talented women! on-line crit groups work great for me!

  2. I'm a member of a ftf crit group; but our membership is falling off lately. Its just a thing groups go through; I know this, but can't help but feel a little abandoned.

    Then again, I wonder if I still want the the in person experience. Its a travel time issue, as there isn't anything close in my little town. Yet, I also wonder if I haven't traipsed into the "mentor" type role in the group and I'm not sure how I feel about that. While its not the same "group" that nurtured me through my beginning writing experience, the leader is the same, and I've come to appreciate her mentoring/leadership style.

    But going with an online group is kinda scary. I'm not a consistent writer - I have a day job that eats a lot of my writing time - but I still have projects that I want critiques on. I worry that I'm not writing/submitting as often as a group would want. And, I've gone beyond the point I need feedback on every word I write.

    And, I'm reading this back and thinking TMI, lol. Decisions, decions . .


  3. Amie and Donna: Thanks for sharing!

    Lynnette Labelle