“Where do I look for a critique partner?”
I asked myself that question several times after talking with my agent earlier this year. Rachelle asked if I had any writing partners, and I told her about my CP, Anne Barton. Actually, I gushed about Anne.
Rachelle asked what genre Anne writes. Regency. While we both write historicals, my stories are set in the United States fifty years after Anne’s take place. Another difference is that I write for the inspirational market, whereas Anne doesn’t.
I realized that as wonderful as Anne is and as much as she helps me polish my manuscripts, I needed another critique partner, one who writes what I do.
That’s when I began asking myself the question above. My search was on.
Places to Look for Potential Critique Partners
•Your local Romance Writers of America® chapter
If you belong to a local chapter of RWA® and attend the meetings, you might find someone who writes in the same genre you do. If so, you could ask if she’d consider swapping a few chapters.
•Your other local writing groups
If you attend a local writers group, you could ask if any of the members writes romance. If you find someone who does, you could invite her to grab a cup of coffee after the meeting. If you two hit it off, you could ask if she is looking for a CP.
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These first two options have the potential for linking you with a CP who lives in your general area. This would enable you to have in-person meetings on a regular basis. If that’s an important factor to you, these options would be good ones to explore.
However, not all of us belong to local writing groups. If we do, we may not live close enough to make regular meetings with a CP feasible.
Many writers make use of email as a primary means of communicating with their CPs. Anne lives on the East Coast whereas I’m in California. Despite the distance and time difference, we’ve been able to effectively communicate for two years utilizing email and an occasional phone call.
Opportunities for connecting with potential CPs increase exponentially when we add the option of online communication. (Since Anne’s a math teacher by day, I threw that fancy term in there just for her. :-))
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•Your online writing groups
RWA has several online chapters. Often, the chapters have a Yahoo! loop set up where members chat with one another. On occasion, a member will put out a request for a CP. Some online writing groups even have critique databases set up for matching members in search of partners who write in their genres. If you prefer to seek your own partner, you could contact a member privately and see if she would consider trading work.
•Blogs: yours and theirs
Those who follow your blog and leave comments could be potential CPs. As you read the comments, keep a lookout for others who write stories like yours. By reading their comments, you will get a feel for what people are like. If someone strikes you as a possible writing partner, you could contact her privately, let her know you’re seeking a CP, and ask if she’s interested in a trial critique period.
You could share your need for a CP in a blog post in which you state what you write, what type of read you’re after, and how you would reciprocate. Invite those who would like to discuss the possibility of pursuing a critique partnership to leave a comment or contact you privately.
If you follow someone else’s blog, you’ll learn a great deal about her. Writers often talk about what is happening with their writing. Should you decide the blogger is someone with whom you might like to exchange stories, you could contact her privately and see if she has any interest in doing so.
•Contest finalist lists
Those who have placed in contests might be worth considering as possible CPs. You could open the lines of communication by sending the finalists in the category in which you write a congratulatory email. If you sense that one of the writers is open to keeping in touch, you could exchange a few messages. If you feel comfortable with that person and feel you’ve made a good connection, you could mention the possibility of swapping stories and see what happens.
A writers’ conference is an excellent place to make connections. As you meet people, there will be some with whom you hit it off. When that happens, you can ask them if they are seeking a CP. If so, you can agree to get in contact once you get back home.
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If you’re in search of a critique partner, you will have to let others know of your need. Contacting someone and asking if she’s interested in establishing a critique partnership can be challenging for those of us who are on the shy side. However, what a great way to practice putting ourselves out there. The worst thing a person can do is say no—and most people will do so nicely. The best thing is that you could find yourself embarking on a relationship that has the potential to be one of the most rewarding you’ve ever had.
Tune in tomorrow to find out which of the options I’ve listed led to my new critique partnership. I’ll share how I went about approaching my new CP in such a way that she knew exactly what I was offering and what I hoped to gain. I’ll also talk about the importance of a trial period.
Double the Fun Drawing!
In honor of my blog’s second birthday and my two years of having Anne as my CP, I’m giving away two prizes a day during my Critique Week, one each to two winners. To enter the drawing, leave a comment on this post by midnight Pacific Time and leave your email address when prompted. (This way you don’t have to add it to your comment.)
I’ll hold the drawing the following day, post the winners’ names here, and contact them via email to get a mailing address (which I won’t share with anyone or add to any mailing lists.)
Congrats to Lizbeth Selvig, winner of the ceramic tile plaque.
Congrats to Cindy R. Wilson, winner of the shopping bag with duckie pouch.
Note: Offer void where prohibited. Odds of winning vary depending on number of entries.
And here are today’s prizes:
I wanna know . . .
Are you in search of a critique partner?
Have you looked for a CP in any of the places listed above? What were the results?
What other places can you think of that could be sources of potential CPs?
Does the thought of asking someone if she’d consider a critique partnership give you a serious case of cotton mouth? What would help you take that step?