The Top 5 Ways To Find A Critique Group

You hear it ALL. THE. TIME.


“Having a critique group is so important.”

“You should run this past a few critique partners.”

“Feedback from a critique group is so valuable.”


But if you’re just getting started in the world of writing, finding someone to give you a good critique can feel a little bit like...online dating.

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Do you really want to put yourself out there?

Where do you even start looking?

What if you end up at a cheap Italian restaurant with someone who’s giving off serial killer vibes?


Well, consider this your guide to going on your first literary blind date!


Here are the top five ways to find reliable critique partners who will give you constructive criticism and help you improve your writing.


1. KidLit411 Manuscript Swap (FB Group)


KidLit411 is a blog run by traditionally published children’s book authors, Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu and KidLit411 Manuscript Swap is their private group for authors seeking critiques. People in this group are mostly authors seeking traditional publishing deals, but they welcome self-publishers too. Once you’ve joined, you can ask for a critique by posting a brief summary of your story, the word count, and how many people you’d like to read it. Of course, as the word “swap” implies, you’ll be expected to reciprocate by critiquing their story too. (Which is a GREAT way to learn and become a better writer!)


Pros: It’s free, and there’s no long term commitment. Request and offer swaps whenever you have the time or need.


Cons: Critiques can come from authors of any level of experience, so the quality of the feedback varies.


Tip: Do a few swaps and notice who gives you feedback that’s the most helpful. Then, ask them privately if they’d like to exchange stories in the future.


2. SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)


This is the largest organization for kid lit authors in the world. While it used to be almost exclusively for authors seeking traditional publication, it has steadily expanded, and now offers lots of great resources for self-publishers too. SCBWI helps connect authors with critique groups in their area. To do this, visit their home page and click on the tab “Local Chapters.” Then, click on your region. Each regional website looks a little different, but they usually have a link somewhere that will give you information about critique groups. You may have to email their regional coordinator. Don’t worry! They are all very nice, and it will be worth it!


Pros: These groups are usually well-established and made up of authors who take the craft seriously.


Cons: You’ll need to pay to join SCBWI. The yearly fee is $95.


Tip: Joining an established group requires commitment. Make sure you are willing and able to dedicate the time required.


3. Rate Your Story


Rate Your Story is a service that provides you with an objective critique from a traditionally published author. You can purchase a year-long membership (must register between Nov.-Jan.) or you can purchase a “speed pass” for a single critique anytime. You’ll receive a rating from 1-10 (with 1 being the best) and an email with some big picture feedback from the author.


Pros: Critiques are anonymous, so you know you are getting an honest, yet constructive, opinion.


Cons: It costs. (But with the year-long membership, it comes out to only about $10 per critique.)


Tip: Purchase a speed pass first to see how you like this service. But also keep in mind that there are dozens of different authors who work for RYS, so you may have a different experience next time.


4. Paid Professional Critiques


Rate Your Story is a great way to get a general idea of where you’re at as a writer, but if you want more specific, line-by-line feedback, a paid critique is a great option. Many authors and editors, myself included, offer detailed and personalized critiques for around $50-100. Check your favorite author’s website to see if they do, or choose one from this list!


Pros: Feedback is typically much more detailed and personal, and you can always pay for another round if you need more help.


Cons: It costs. (Think of it as supporting a fellow author!)


Tip: Don’t pay for a critique of a rough draft. Do some extensive self-editing and make sure your manuscript is the best you can make it before submitting.


5. Other Writing Facebook Groups


Groups like Publishing Children’s Books: An Author Community, are full of like-minded writers working on their craft. If you “meet” someone in a Facebook group who seems like a good match, ask them if they’d like to swap stories! The worst they can say is no - and if it turns out your styles aren’t a good match, there’s no long term commitment.


Pros: Free and easy to access.


Cons: Critiques can come from authors of any level of experience, so the quality of the feedback varies.


Tip: Lurk for a bit in a group before you approach someone. Notice who contributes to conversations and who seems to know their stuff.



So the next time you’re longing for some literary feedback, give one of these five places a try. You never know when that blind date might be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.



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