My original intention in writing this post was to provide helpful information as you move into the last phase of writing your novel. And I’ll do that, of course, but I’ve also found quite a few satirical posts on what NOT to do as a critique partner or beta reader. So I might have to include one of those as well. Here we go.
You’ve finished your amazing WIP, spent hours revising it, and now it’s ready to query, right? WRONG. Anyone who knows anything about writing and getting published will highly advise against sending out the first draft of your ms, especially if it hasn’t been put through the rounds (yes, plural) of CPs and beta readers.
Agent Sarah Negovetich gives a really simple description of the difference between Critique Partners and Beta Readers:
Critique Partner(CP): This person often reads your book in it’s early draft form, usually in portions either as you write or edit. They provide general feedback on characters, plot, setting, etc. They may also point out grammar issues, though probably not since it’s still early in the process. CPs can often serve as a sounding board and help brainstorm through issues. Because this is a partnership, you are expected to return the favor.
Beta Reader(Beta): This person reads the entire manuscript, usually after you have put it through several rounds of editing on your own and through your CPs. Betas provide similar feedback to CPs, but since they are seeing the whole manuscript, they are often better able to point out overarching issues and strengths in the novel. Some authors serve as Betas for each other, but most authors use independent readers who don’t expect to have their own work read in exchange.
Now that we’re all on the same page about that, check out these posts by Chuck Sambuchino at Writers Digest on what you should look for in each of these.
From my experience, the most important element to take away from either of these is to find readers who get your manuscript. Find readers who complement your style, who write in similar genres, who critique AND compliment. You get the picture.
“But where can I find such people?” you might ask. There are some great resources for matching up writers!
Check out How About We CP and post a profile with what you’re looking for/what you can offer.
Similarly, there’s an entire form dedicated to critique partners at CPseek.com. You can search profiles, post your own, or get help from forum mentors!
Even the fabulous Maggie Stiefvater hosts an annual Critique Partner Love Connection!
And of course, there’s always the lovely writing community on Twitter.
Now that you’re equipped with such might resources, go forth and find matches! To leave you with a bit of CP humor, check out this post from Ava Jae on How (Not) to Be an Awesome Critique Partner.
I’ll see you in two weeks!