This week (more or less) is the first anniversary of my critique group, the Cupcake Crew! We are a small group, just me and Jessi Gage and Julie Brannagh. We meet weekly at a cupcake shop for critique and chat and support.
1. If you’re serious about a writing career, look for critique partners who are equally serious. If one person writes 5,000 words per week and the other writes 500 words per week, that is not a match made in heaven. One person is going to feel like she’s imposing on the other, and it’s not likely to work out. Avoid people who are unreliable. Critique groups depend on people showing up.
2. Critique should be honest but never, ever mean-spirited. If you didn’t enjoy a submission, don’t pretend that you did, but be constructive. Point out the parts that were done well, and make suggestions for improvement that are in line with the author’s vision.
3. Critique partners should always have each other’s backs. In the privacy of our critique group, we give each other honest feedback, because we’re allies helping each other create the best books possible for publication. But feedback’s not all of it. We share book recommendations, discuss contract issues and publishing news, help each other with promotion, and sometimes go to events together. Writing is a solitary profession, but it shouldn’t be a lonely one.
If you don’t have a critique group yet, go forth and assemble one! Once you find the right people, you won’t regret it.