Critique Partners are an amazing asset to a writer at any stage, but they're the source of a lot of questions: Where do you find CPs? How do you find the right CP? Today I've put together the answers to the most common questions below. Take a look!

Critique Partners are an amazing asset to a writer at any stage, and I often hear writers asking about where to find CPs, how to find the *right* CP, or how to make the most of CP relationships. I've put together the answers to the most common questions below. Click through to read it >>>

5 Common Questions about Critique Partners

Last week I shared a blog post about the difference between Critique Partners (CPs) and Beta Readers. Today, I want to answer some common questions I hear about finding CPs and making the most of CP relationships.

Ready? Let's go.

1. Where do you find Critique Partners?

There are a number of CP match-ups online, and Twitter is always a great option. You might find them in your local writing group, in online writing groups, or on Facebook. In short: everywhere!

In case you're overwhelmed, here are five critique partner match ups to get you started:

  1. CP of Awesome Match-Up on the YA Buccaneers

  2. Pub Crawl Critique Partner Connection

  3. Swoon Reads Critique Partner Matchmaking

  4. How about we CP Tumblr

  5. Ladies Who Critique

2. How do you find the right CP?

Finding the right CP can be challenging. You may need to try out different CPs before you find the best one for your story. You might also find that certain CPs are great for one story, but not as well suited for your other stories. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and with a CP, you're looking for another writer who is strongest in the areas you need the most help.

You may need to try out different CPs before you find the best one for your story.

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Things to consider:

  • What genre do they read and write? A writer who isn't familiar with your genre may not give the most helpful feedback.

  • What style of writing do they like? A writer who loves lyrical storytelling may not like your short and snappy dialogue-heavy manuscript.

  • Are they nice? Maybe you like tough love, or maybe you cry at the drop of a hat (raises hand) -- whichever you prefer, look for CPs who fit what you want. For example, you can check out their Twitter feed to get a feel for their personality.

3. Okay, I have a CP. Now what?

Once you've found a CP, start by sharing a snippet of your work, and request that they do the same. Perhaps exchange your query letter, first five pages, or first three chapters. Request specific feedback, and get a feel for their style of critiquing. There's a chance you won't like their style (or they won't like yours), and it's better to find out sooner rather than later to avoid wasting their time.

Related: Before You Hit Send: Prepping Your Manuscript for CPs

4. What should I ask my CP to look for?

As I mentioned in my post on how to revise be specific about the feedback you want when you share your work with a CP.

Be specific about the feedback you want when you share your work with a CP.

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Questions you might ask after an early draft:

  • Is this story worth writing? Do you want to read more?

  • Were there points in the story where you grew bored or lost interest?

  • What did you like best about the story?

Questions you might ask after later drafts:

  • Is my character's development believable?

  • How is the romantic tension?

  • Is this scene confusing?

  • Any gaping plot holes or problems I need to address?

The list goes on! It depends on where you are in the writing process (think of the spectrum as first draft -----> ready for querying or publication), and you'll find that certain CPs specialize in giving certain types of feedback. For example, one CP might be great at quick turn around and big picture feedback, whereas another CP might need more time, but will be able to give you a more detailed critique.

5. How can I be a good CP?

There are a few simple things you can do to make sure the friends you critique for are happy customers:

1. Be honest about your availability and your interest.

First, try to be honest about how long it will take you to read and critique your CP's manuscript. If it's taking you longer than expected, let them know. If you need more time, be honest. You can save your CP a lot of unnecessary stress simply by being up front with them.

Second, if a friend asks you to read their erotic vampire political thriller and you absolutely HATE those (or you're completely unfamiliar with the genre), then don't offer to read for them. (Perhaps skip the part about hating their genre, though.) Let them know you're not the right reader for this story, and be honest about which genres you would be willing to read.

2. Ask for their expectations and try to meet them.

Request expectations from your CP and before you start reading make sure you know what kind of feedback they want. Do this and you'll avoid sending them your line-by-line edit when what they really wanted was to know if the romance worked.

3. Be a gracious reader.

When someone asks you to read their manuscript, they are placing a lot of trust in you. Treat their manuscript--and their feelings--like you would your own. Find ways to be constructive and avoid being negative or overly enthusiastic about their faults or mistakes (i.e. "That's the WORST character arc EVER!!!! OMGGGG.").

Before sending your feedback, double-check it. Are you kind and gracious? Do you offer encouragement? Have you met their requests? Is your feedback constructive?

Remember: being a CP for a writer is beneficial to you too. Not only will your CPs return the favor and help you write better books, but by reading and critiquing your work will improve. #WIN

Related: How to Rock the Critique Partner Relationship


I hope you found my tips about Critique Partners helpful! If you liked this post, I would love it if you shared it on Twitter. You can use the tweet below, just click to tweet!

Want to know where to find CPs & how to make the most of CP relationships? Read this:

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I would love to hear from you in the comments below: Do you have tips for writers looking for CPs? Or questions about being a good CP?


Pssst: You also might like the Novel Plot Test Worksheet I made. My email friends get to download it for FREE! Click the image below to sign up and I'll email you a copy today.

Want to make sure your novel idea passes the test? I created a Novel Plot Test worksheet to help you find out. Click through for your copy ----->


Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo


Have writing goals to finish but lacking motivation? Then this post is for you! The YA Buccaneers are hosting their bi-annual bootcamp, and you're invited! (P.S. It's FREE!)

Join the YA Buccaneers FREE Spring Writing Bootcamp! When you join you get goal-setting worksheets plus access to private online writing groups! Click through to learn more! >>>

Want to write with me this spring? The YA Buccaneers are hosting our Spring Writing Bootcamp and this is your official invite. We're three weeks in, but you can join at any time. (I have a fantastic excuse for not inviting you sooner - I've been writing all the words during bootcamp!)

The bootcamp runs May through June, and now is a great time to get started! When you sign up you get:

  • A FREE intro pack with goal-setting worksheets

  • Access to private online communities for bootcampers ONLY - your choice of Facebook or Twitter

  • Word Sprints (where we hang out online and write together!)

  • Book giveaways to help you stay motivated (yesss!)

Join the YA Buccaneers FREE Spring Writing Bootcamp! When you join you get goal-setting worksheets plus access to private online writing groups! Click through to learn more! >>>

This bootcamp is 100% free and is put together by the amazing YA Buccaneers crew. During bootcamp I'll be behind the scenes with my fellow Buccaneers, but I'll also be working on my own writing goals--which makes this a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better.

Bootcamps are a fantastic way to make new writer friends while working toward your goals. You can work on anything - drafting, revising, blogging - and everyone who checks in online will earn chances to win those prizes I mentioned (i.e. BOOKS!).

I would love to see you in bootcamp! Click here to sign up & right away we'll email you your Spring Writing Bootcamp intro pack with those goal-setting worksheets. (Because who doesn't love adult homework?)

What do you think? Hop in the comments and let me know if I'll see you in bootcamp!


Critique Partners and Beta Readers are an essential part of the publication process, but there's often confusion about what they are and whether or not they're important (spoiler: they are). If you've been confused about CPs and betas in the past, then this post is for you!

Critique Partners and Beta Readers are an essential part of the publication process, but there's often confusion about what they are and whether or not they're important (spoiler: they are). If you've been confused about CPs and betas in the past, then this post is for you! Click through to read it >>>

Lately I've heard a number of writers asking the following:

  • What's a CP?

  • What's the difference between Critique Partners and Beta Readers?

  • Do I have to have a CP or beta readers? Can't I just send my manuscript to an agent?

During #PitchMadness, a writer said they were too scared to have a critique partner, and would far rather have an author or agent read their stuff first.

EEK.

I'm going to start with the basics, but first:

Friends don't let friends NOT have CPs and Beta Readers. Your pre-agent and pre-publication readers are your golden ticket to crafting amazing stories. Better yet, they are the ones who will tell you when your book is confusing, lacking, or just ... not ready, which is far better than hearing it in a review or finding out thanks to a stack of query letter rejections.

Friends don't let friends NOT have CPs and Beta Readers.

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But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let's talk about the difference between a Critique Partner and a Beta Reader, and why you want both.

Critique Partners (CPs) versus Beta Readers

Critique Partners

Critique Partners (CPs) are writers who read your work and give feedback based on your requests. Often the goal is to exchange work, although you might not start with an exchange.

Since CPs are fellow writers, they can find weaknesses like plot holes, poor character development, and the other million things writers need to think about when writing. Unlike, say, a family member who doesn't write, they know and understand story mechanics and can be the shiny unicorn you need to help you navigate your manuscript.

CPs can be the shiny unicorn you need to help you navigate your manuscript.

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Friends, you WANT a CP. In fact, you want a flock of them. Why? Because they will:

  1. Read your stuff, even when it's the equivalent of a pile of garbage.

  2. Tell you what you're doing right and what you need to fix.

  3. Be your shoulder to cry on when things get hard.

  4. Keep you going when you want to quit.

  5. Prevent you from querying or publishing when you're not ready.

That last one is important.

Your CPs get to hone their editing and story-making skills by reading your stuff. In return, you get to hear from them (versus an agent or Amazon reviews) what's good/bad/ugly about your story.

Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's scary.

But wouldn't you rather hear constructive criticism from a fellow writer? Someone who knows exactly how hard it is to write a book? Someone who can help you make it better?

Besides, you want this constructive feedback before you query or publish. When you can still fix it. When it's not meaning you lost a connection with an agent. When it's not showing up as one-star reviews.

Make sense?

This is why CPs are so, so important and amazing.

But wait! Beta Readers are awesome too.

Beta Readers

Beta Readers (sometimes referred to as betas) are people who read your manuscript as readers first, not writers. A Beta Reader can read your story at any time in your writing process, and they aren't (necessarily) looking for an exchange. With beta readers, you're often asking them for big picture feedback only (i.e. Did you like it?).

Beta Readers are important because they can give you big picture feedback free of the constraints and worries CPs and writers will have while reading. Since they're not looking for your character's goal, motivation, and conflict, for example, but just want a good story, they can help you make sure you're on track.

If you're looking for Beta Readers, family, friends, nieces and nephews, friends-of-friends (non-writers especially) make great readers. You can post on Facebook that you're looking for readers, or email your family members to ask if they might read your manuscript. Just be sure to be clear about your expectations, and try to find people who will be nice to you. :)

Sensitivity Readers

Beneath the umbrella of Beta Readers are Sensitivity Readers, which are worthy of pointing out, especially if you include diversity in your manuscripts. If you're unfamiliar with the term, here's a great explanation:

A sensitivity reader reads through a manuscript for issues of representation and for instances of bias on the page. The goal of a sensitivity reader isn’t to edit a manuscript clarity and logic, although that may be an additional service offered. A sensitivity reader reviews a manuscript for internalized bias and negatively charged language. A sensitivity reader is there to help make sure you do not make a mistake, but they are also NOT a guarantee against making a mistake.

Write in the Margins

As an aside, thanks to my writer friend Laura Haley for pointing this out and for connecting me with a Sensitivity Reader for my manuscript!

If you are looking for a Sensitivity Reader, the Writing in the Margins Sensitivity Reader database will be a great resource for you.


I hope this helps you understand how CPs and Beta Readers are different, but also why both are important parts of getting your manuscripts ready for querying or publication.

Next week I'll share the answers to five common questions about making the most of the CP relationships, so check back if that's something you'd like to read!


Pssst: You also might like the Novel Plot Test Worksheet I made. My email friends get to download it for FREE! Click the image below to sign up and I'll email you a copy today.

Want to make sure your novel idea passes the test? I created a Novel Plot Test worksheet to help you find out. Click through for your copy ----->


Do you have questions about CPs and Beta Readers? Hop in the comments below and let me know. I'd love to hear from you. Or, if you're someone who has worked with CPs and Beta Readers, what advice would you give other writers who are new to CP and Beta Reader relationships?

P.S. If you found this post valuable, I would love it if you shared it on Twitter!

Not sure what the difference is between a CP and a beta? Read this post:

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Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo


Welcome to this month's State of the Blog, where I share my goals for this blog, what I'm doing to reach them, and what's working (or not working).

March 2016 State of the blog report: Want a behind-the-scenes glance at what's working/not working for my blog? Take a look to learn about my blogging goals and what I'm doing to reach them >>>>>

This post includes affiliate links (marked with an asterisk). When you use the link to make a purchase, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will only share affiliate links if I have used and recommend the product or service. If you have any questions, please contact me. Thanks for your support!

New to my blog? Start here: State of the Blog for January 2016, State of the Blog for February 2016.

February 2016 Numbers

Keep in mind that traffic and social media numbers aren't everything -- I'd rather ten writer friends over 1,000 stop-an-go site visitors, wouldn't you? -- but numbers can help you get big picture insights and help you make changes.

Site Traffic and Top Content

Here's a comparison of my site traffic February 1st through 29th, 2016 (top) and January 1st through 31st, 2016 (bottom).

Psst: Learn how to find these stats in Google Analytics: I walk through the process step-by-step in the Build a Better Blog Challenge.

March 2016 State of the blog report: Want a behind-the-scenes glance at what's working/not working for my blog? Take a look to learn about my blogging goals and what I'm doing to reach them >>>>>

And a comparison of my top content February 1st through 29th, 2016 (left) and January 1st through 31st, 2016 (right).

March 2016 State of the blog report: Want a behind-the-scenes glance at what's working/not working for my blog? Take a look to learn about my blogging goals and what I'm doing to reach them >>>>>

What's important:
  • Although my traffic dropped (not surprising after last month's green smoothie surge), my bounce rate decreased and my percentage of returning visitors increased. What that means: People are coming back to my blog, and they are staying longer. Yesss! This is very helpful to me, because it means readers are getting value out of my content.

  • Also of note: My writing-related posts are still doing better than the majority of my recipe and food-related posts. Which means my transition from food(ish) blog to writing blog is going well.

Social Media Referrals

March 2016 State of the blog report: Want a behind-the-scenes glance at what's working/not working for my blog? Take a look to learn about my blogging goals and what I'm doing to reach them >>>>>

Pinterest is my number one social media network referral (I talk more about how to use it strategically in my free Build a Better Blog Challenge), but this month I was more active on Twitter and saw a jump in traffic from Twitter. More on that in a moment.

Pinterest

As I mentioned last month, Pinterest is a huge traffic driver for me. I have blog posts about how to use Pinterest more strategically in the works, but I'll also be sharing a free online workshop to show you how I use Pinterest and BoardBooster together. There will be blog posts announcing the workshop, and you can sign up here to be the first to hear about it!

Social Media Growth

One of my goals last month was to get more strategic about how I use Twitter, and it definitely paid off. That, and I entered a writing contest called Pitch Madness. Most of the interaction is on Twitter, which helped me connect with a number of new followers.

Mailing List Growth

Guys, my email list is exploding. Like, fairy dust and rainbows exploding. I am so, so excited about the number of people who are opting in to join my list! Not only is the number growing, but I'm also seeing new subscribers who want to interact with me -- asking questions and reaching out to say hello. My email friends are the best!

  • Subscribers: 353 (+194)

As I mentioned last week, I'm putting together an e-course for writers and authors who want to start (or grow) their mailing list. Sign up to be notified when it launches!

How I did on my January goals

1. Experiment with Twitter

Excellent!

My Twitter following increased quite a bit, but more importantly I'm connecting and interacting with more and more writers. Four things that worked really well:

  1. Scheduling tweets in advance

  2. Sharing more writing-related information (and mentioning the source)

  3. Joining a Twitter chat

  4. Engaging and interacting with people

I'll have more about Twitter strategy soon, but I do want to point out that much of my traffic came from being active in the #PitchMadness conversations on Twitter. It's been an excellent way to make new writer friends!

2. Work on new email course for writers and authors

Excellent!

I don't want to spoil the awesomeness ... so for now just know that this course is going to be packed full of AMAZING information. If you're a writer who wants to learn how to create and grow your mailing list, then you'll love it. :)

Psst: Sign up to be notified when this course launches.

3. Finish design tasks

#Fail

I didn't make progress on my design tasks last month. My other writing and blogging projects took priority, and I'm not bothered in the slightest. Design can wait, content comes first.

Goals for March 2016

1. Update my Build a Better Blog e-course

I have a number of new lessons to add, and I want to get them added to the course site this month.

2. Make progress on my new email course for writers and authors

There's a lot of content to write and tutorials to record - I'll be busy!

Psst: Sign up to be notified when this course launches.

3. Teach Pinterest strategy workshop

This will be such an awesome workshop! A number of you have asked me about how I use Pinterest, and I can't wait to show you exactly how I've grown my following and made Pinterest my biggest source of traffic from a social media network. Get excited. :) Sign up here!


Thank you for reading! If there's anything I mentioned that you would like to learn about, please jump in the comments to let me know.

Now I would love to hear from you:

Do you have plans for your blog this month? Tell me about it in the comments, and be sure to link to your blog so I can take a look! :)


Pitch Madness is a contest started by Brenda Drake to help querying writers find agents (learn more about Pitch Madness). If you entered the contest last Friday, then this post is for you!

Join the Unofficial Pitch Madness Blog Hop to connect with the 2016 Pitch Madness participants! Head to www.bridgidgallagher.com to get started >>>

One of the Pitch Madness participants, Eric Rasmussen, suggested a blog hop of sorts to help the Pitch Madness participants connect, and I volunteered to get it started. Please note that this is not an "official" blog hop run by the contest organizers. The hub for contest-related conversations is on Twitter under #PitchMadness. This blog hop is 100% optional, and hopefully it will give us one more way to connect and get to know each other.

How to participate

Jump in the comments and share the following:

  • Your name

  • The genre of your Pitch Madness entry

  • A link to your blog

  • Optional: Are you looking for critique partners, beta readers, or ... ? This is a great chance to connect!

Bonus blog post topic

Want to take it a step further? Write a blog post and share more about yourself and your manuscript. Link to the post in the comments.

Snag the image

Feel free to use the image I've created in this blog post, just link back to this post to help others find it and participate.

Okay, friends. I'll write the first comment to give you an example. Then feel free to add your own comment. I look forward to "meeting" you!