You’ll all remember yesterday’s post about me stepping back from writing group. Well, this is connected to that, obviously. Now that I’m not in a writing group for the foreseeable future, I definitely still need some people who are willing and ready to read some of my early drafts and give me feedback. I’m not just looking for anybody, however. I have to be a bit selective about who I send my work to, mainly because when I get too many conflicting views, it makes it difficult to know which direction to go. So ideally I’m looking for someone with the following qualifications:
- They’re someone I know personally. Preferably quite well. I’m not saying strangers make bad critics, but it’s hard for me to interpret criticism from a stranger. If I know you and know what you’re like, it’s easier for me to understand the input you’re giving me. That might seem odd, but I’ve found it to be true time and time again. This isn’t to say you have to love everything I write. Just that I’ve been around you enough to get a real sense of who you are as a person.
- They like to read YA fantasy. This is a no-brainer. I write YA fantasy, and I want readers who are fans of the genre. I’ve had critiques from people who don’t read YA fantasy before, and it just isn’t all that helpful. You need to know the conventions and the tropes to be able to tell accurately when they’re being played upon or when they’re being too slavishly followed. It’s like trying to take part in a conversation where you haven’t listened to the first 2/3rds of it, and suddenly you think you have something relevant to say. You might. But it goes better with context.
- They’re fairly fast and reliable. I don’t need a week turnaround or anything. I’ll write a draft and then set it aside for a few months at least. But when it’s time for me to pick up the draft and get going again, I need the input then, and not a few weeks from then. These days, I have a fairly planned out writing schedule. If I have weeks where I have to wait for input, that messes things up significantly.
- They’re honest. They’ll tell me what I need to hear, and not what I want to hear. They don’t have to be jerks about it, but if they don’t like something, I need to know it.
- They’re detail-oriented. I don’t need someone who’s going to correct my grammar, but it would be helpful to have critiques that specify where things go wrong, “______ is a boring character” isn’t as useful as “In Chapter 5, _______ really came across as boring, mainly because of _______” Make sense?
That said, there are some things you might think I need, but I really don’t. These include:
- Critics with experience. It’s completely not necessary. All I need out of a critic is someone who will read through a book and tell me what they liked about it and what they didn’t like about it. Specifics are great. What was boring. Which characters were annoying. Where things were confusing. Where things were humming along great. Basically, I need someone who’s willing to do an overarching review of the book that’s more specific than a simple book review would be, but is still along the same lines (minus the summary, of course.) If you’re an avid reader who knows what you like and what you don’t like, that’s all you need to be a good candidate for me.
- People with great ideas for how to improve the book. Also not that necessary. I might ask for suggestions if I get stumped from time to time, but I generally can fix big problems on my own, if I know they exist. The problem I have isn’t figuring out how to fix them. It’s figuring out the problems exist in the first place.
- A grammar nazi. Seriously. I don’t need that at this point in my books. I’m working on massive renovations, not vacuuming and dusting the furniture, if that makes sense. Copy edits come after the story’s good to go.
Anyway. That’s the basics. If you feel like you meet any or all of those, please reach out to me. I’d love to have about 5 or so readers total. Not sure if I can get there, but it would be super. Any questions? Just ask. Thanks!