Today, dear friends, I’m bringing you a truly special post – thanks to author Jen Garrett. We were chatting the other day about how important it is to have good critique partners and how difficult it is to find them sometimes.
Jen graciously agreed to share some of what she knows about critique groups. And she knows alot. JEN Garrett writes for, about, and around children all day. But sometimes she finds time to do the dishes at her home in Northern California. She also finds time to be the SCBWI Critique Carousel Coordinator for her region, query agents, and read mountains of books. How? We don’t know. You can find more about her at http://www.lexicalcreations.weebly.com
Welcome, Jen! Thank you for stopping by Picture Books Help Kids Soar to chat with us. And before I turn the platform over to you, let’s tell everyone about the giveaway that accompanies this post. Jen has agreed to donate a picture book manuscript critique…and I will donate another. So TWO lucky winners will be chosen and announced on another special post next Monday, August 31st, when I interview Moose, the dog in Maria Gianferrari’s Hello Goodbye Dog. To be entered in the giveaway, please leave a comment and tell us how you feel about critique groups.
And now, take it away, Jen!
Five Ways to Find Your Critique Group
Critique groups come in all shapes and sizes. Some are online, while other groups meet in person. Still others have a combination of online and in person interaction. Finding the perfect one for you takes preparation, determination, and a little bit of luck.
#1 One of the best ways to find a critique group is to meet other writers in person and exchange info. Where can you meet local writers? At local writer events, of course!
Writer events are often advertised in local newspapers and community magazines. You can also ask at the public library, college campus, or look for neighborhood bulletin boards near where you live. An online resource for finding these events no matter where you live is Meetup.
If you can’t find any events in your area, consider hosting one yourself at your local library or a local restaurant. Bring business cards when you attend to make connections with. I found my picture book critique group through a writer’s event. Actually, they found me!
#2 Organizations such SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), CBI (Children’s Book Insider) and other writing organizations often host events that are not widely advertised. Consider joining and/or attending sponsored writer’s conferences and events. If attending the conference provides you with amazing opportunities – such as finding a critique group – then joining the organization will likely benefit you even more.
Online writing organizations such as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and WriteOnCon (Writers Online Conference) provide forums for finding critique groups in your genre.
Hone Your Craft
#3 The more you hone your craft by taking classes and attending webinars, the more you’ll rub shoulders with like-minded writers. An added perk to such courses is meeting fellow classmates who are also serious about honing craft. Don’t be afraid to exchange emails to connect outside class!
Many agents, editors, and authors host online courses and webinars. Here’s a handful of my favorites.
- Children’s Book Academy
- Institute of Children’s Literature
- Writing Blue Prints
- 12 X 12 Writing Challenge
- Kid Lit Writing School
#4 Connecting through social media is another great way to find critique partners. Some Facebook groups are associated to specific challenges – such as Storystorm and ReFoReMo (Read For Research Month). But others – Subitclub and KidLit411, for examples – also have “Manuscript Swap” and “Critique Match Up” groups you can join once you’ve been an active participant in their main group.
Make a Comment
#5 Scroll down on your favorite blog posts, and see who else has commented. I’ve seen people connect through blog comments, but with this idea comes a warning: be careful not to ask for a critique out of the blue. Connect first and make sure they are open to exchanging manuscripts.
Bonus suggestion: Once you find a critique group, don’t be afraid to keep it on a trial basis for a while. If it’s not working for you or if your writing focus changes, then be honest and exit graciously.
WOW…Jen, thank you so very much! I know this post will be helpful to all of our writer friends…I’ll bet plenty of them are bookmarking it right now.
If anyone has questions that haven’t been answered in the post, you are welcome to put them in the comments. Jen and I will try to answer them…or will try to find someone who can. And don’t forget leave a comment, telling us if you are in one or more critique groups and, if you are, how they have or have not helped you and why. There will be TWO lucky winners of a picture book critique…I’m donating one and Jen is donating the other. So please spread the word far and wide…this is a topic we all need to think about.
Have a great week! Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know that I’m going in for some emergency eye surgery Wednesday morning. I need these peepers in top condition so I can keep writing and blogging. I’ll see you back here on Friday and Saturday when Susanna Leonard Hill will be back in the house with another book blog tour!