Friday, June 20, 2014

The Dark Deliciousness of Working with Critique Groups by Shawna Romkey

Crit groups can be really helpful for writers. Writing is generally a solitary experience and often, we as writers, don’t catch all of our mistakes. We need test readers to look at what we’ve written to see if the story logic we’ve laid out makes sense or not, if there are any gaps, if there are any inconsistencies and other issues that we may auto-correct in our own heads.

I tend to write a first draft, then go over it a few times. Then I’ll send it out to 3 or 4 beta readers and revise it again using what suggestions they’ve made. I submit the book for publication and go through the editing process. But even after that, one last time before I give my official approval on the final copy, I like to run it by 3 or 4 readers again just to make sure everything is caught before it goes out into the world.

I also have crit groups on a broader scale in a sense. I’m part of my publisher’s author group, a romance writers group in my area, and this blogging group. We use each other to help spread the word on promotions with our own books. So not only do my pre-beta readers and my post-beta readers come from these groups, my promo support people come from these groups as well. We share things, retweet things, read and review for one another.

When new writers ask me for advice, the first thing I tell them is to get a group. It’s for the reasons I stated above that I find they are an invaluable resource. They can not only critique but advise and help you promote. 

My most important tip for being a part of a crit group? Quid pro quo – it’s important. If someone reviews your book, review for her. If someone acts as a beta reader for your book, give her the same courtesy. If someone constantly shares and tweets for you, reciprocate. If you are only constantly taking from a group and not giving back, you may eventually find yourself out of that group.

Writing is hard to do on your own. Take the support given and help other writers out!

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