In my last two articles, I addressed the WHYs and HOWs of Critique Groups. If you’re not already in a critique group, you’re ready to join or start one, right? Or maybe you have a few more questions (especially if you’re thinking of starting your own group)? Have no fear, today I bring you:
Who to Include in Your Critique Group
Some of the things you’ll want to consider when starting a group is whether you want to include writers, illustrators, writer-illustrators or all; the genre(s) you want to critique (board books, picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, new adult, poetry, non-fiction, portfolios, book dummies or any combination of these); and group size (there are advantages to both smaller and larger groups). You may also want to consider whether you want to specify members’ experience and career direction. For example, do you want to form/join a group of beginner, intermediate, experienced, or published writers/illustrators or a combination? Do you want the group to include those who are pursuing traditional or self-publishing? Do you want to specify your group is for those serious about writing/illustrating or do you welcome hobbiests? If you are “group shopping” you’ll want to look at the description of each group and decide which of these things are important to you.
Where to Hold Your Critique Group
If you want your group to be strictly on-line, you’ll be able to connect with others from far and wide. You’ll need to decide how you want to exchange critiques (ex. google docs, email, etc.). If you want your group to meet in-person, you’ll need to advertise a general area and a meeting place (I suggest a public place such as a local library, book store, coffee shop, etc.). You can stick to the same meeting place each time or rotate locations. You can also use a combination of on-line and in-person meetings.
When to Hold Your Critique Group Meetings
You’ll want to consider your schedule and availability when deciding the frequency of exchanging manuscripts and holding meetings. Some groups meet weekdays, weekday evenings, or weekends. Some meet once per month, twice per month or every other month. Some meet on the same day per cycle (for example, the second Tuesday of each month) and others base each meeting on the schedules of its members. When looking for an established group, ask the group leader (if it’s not already listed on an advertised site) when the group meets so you can see if it fits with your schedule. You may want to establish some rules, whether they be strict or loose guidelines. For example, is everyone permitted to submit at/before each meeting or will each take turns? Will there be a deadline of when to submit before each meeting? Consider how much work you produce and how much time you can devote to critiquing others’ manuscripts/art work and what balance will work for you.
Next time I’ll address some “what” questions about critique groups. In the meantime, feel free to leave comments and/or questions below. What other things are important to you when considering the who, when, and where of critique groups?