The Elusive Critique Partners & Beta Readers
Often authors, especially new authors, need a helping hand - someone to read their manuscript as they go and give critical feedback. A great solution for this need is to find a critique partner - another author in your genre, someone who you can trade off services with. You read their work-in-progress, and they read yours.
Finding a good critique partner isn't always easy. And you may have to go through a few before you strike gold. So be patient, and don't just grab the first willing author you find. Look carefully and choose wisely.
But where do you look?
GREAT QUESTION. I recently was pointed in the right direction by Fiona Archer, a romance author with extensive critique partner experience. She helped to pull back the curtain on finding the elusive critique partner, and pointed me to the RWA Critique Partner Matchup. Thanks Fiona!
RWA is the Romance Writers of America, and they recently announced a new program to help their members find a critique partners: the RWA Critique Partner Matchup. Please note, this is (obviously) only for romance authors, and you'll need a membership in RWA, which runs $99 per year, plus a $25 new member fee. Honestly, it's well worth the money. They send out a monthly magazine full of interesting articles, plus you have access to their forums, and can purchase audio recordings of all of their panels from the last five RWA conferences - which is about a thousand hours of helpful information.
How it works:
Update the “Critique Partner Matching Program” section of your My Profile page in myRWA with your information (make sure you check the box agreeing to participate in the program).
Go to http://www.rwa.org/critiquepartnermatchup and use the search fields to find a critique partner.
Click on a name in the search results to view the critique partner details. If you feel the member is a good match for you, then e-mail the member at the e-mail address provided on their critique profile to see if they’re interested.
Once you have a critique partner, update your profile and uncheck the “agree to participate” box.
Questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
But maybe you don't want a partner - maybe you just want a beta reader. A beta reader isn't a writer, but a critical eye who can look over your early draft and give you feedback. They aren't always as technical as a critique partner, but they are a great way to hear a reader's voice - and the sort of criticism that would likely come from your customer base. Beta Readers often work for free, and novices may need a little guidance. Be sure to pick a beta reader that enjoys your genre, and preferably, one who has read (and enjoyed) similar works.
Need to find a beta reader? Find them here. <— That link will take you to a Goodreads group with over 15,000 members. You can post a description of what you are looking for and have qualified beta readers respond. I would suggest, when reviewing the beta reader responses, to look at each reader’s Goodreads reviews and get a feel for them. Do they point out constructive feedback on the novels? Are they snarky and mean? Reviews can tell you a lot about a beta reader and are a nice way to get to know them, before you send them your novel.
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