When you think your manuscripts are ready for publication, the best thing you can do for your writing career is join a critique group. Be aware that a bad critique group can hinder your career, but a good one can cut years off of the time spent refining your skills. You will want to select your group carefully or establish well defined guidelines if you create a new group. Keep reading for critique group guidelines.
Groups are usually formed by a few individuals coming together for that purpose. If you are a member of SCBWI, you can look in your directory for individuals near you. Contact them about starting a group (or to find out if they know of one locally). You can also post a message on the Write4Kids message board (found on my “Favorite Sites” page) to locate other writers interested in creating a critique group.
If you start a new group, you will want to be certain to establish well defined guidelines for participation at the very beginning. This will avert problems that may come up later or assist in the handling of situations. Things to consider are:
Maximum group size – (8-10) is ideal – too small and the group may fold for lack of support and participation, too large and there may be too much work for everyone to keep up.
Allowable Submission Sizes – one picture book or one mid-grade chapter per submission period are standard.
Submission period – weekly, biweekly, or monthly keeping in mind that in the beginning submissions will be heavy due to a backlog of manuscripts, but will slack off after some period of time.
Required critiquing – Will everyone be required to critique everything? If not, what rules define lack of participation; how much is too little? How long will a person be allowed to hold a manuscript before critiquing it?
Membership – How will membership terminations be handled? What will constitute an offense leading to dismissal from the group? What behaviors will / will not be tolerated?
These are guidelines for establishing and running a critique group. The most important thing is to establish rules that suit the individuals in your group. Every group will be slightly different, but the bonding and comraderie that takes place in a well formed critique group is nothing short of amazing!
I wish you the best of luck in finding or forming a group. It will greatly enhance your ability to get published. Thank you also for visiting my site. I hope it helps you find homes for your manuscripts in the future!
Best of Luck,