My Critique Group

When I attended a Michigan writing conference in April, many speakers talked about the importance of joining a critique group. They made compelling arguments. My husband and kids were really sweet to read my stories and give feedback, but I knew writing partners could offer more. So I started to look for a group.

Finding a Critique Group

My first stop was my local SCBWI boards, but with the coronavirus, it seemed that all local groups had stopped meeting in person. I searched for virtual picture book critique groups in the area, but couldn’t find any who I could reach out to.

Luckily for me, after the SCBWI Summer Spectacular event Jolie Steckly opened up a thread on Twitter for attendees searching for critique groups. There were four of us who mentioned looking for a picture book group! Voila! A critique group was formed.

If you are still looking for a critique group, I have found people reaching out on Twitter (there is such an amazing writing community there) and we added one member to our group from Instagram. I also think writing conferences or classes are good places to find critique partners.

How My Group Operates

I don’t believe there is a right and wrong way for a critique group to operate but I will let you know what we do for consideration.

All of my group members live in different states (and one in Canada) so even if the coronavirus wasn’t a thing, we would need to meet online. We meet over Zoom, once a week for about 1-1 1/2 hours.

We were reading “Save The Cat” one chapter per week and discussing at the beginning of the meeting but have finished that and need to pick another form of education. It is nice to learn together and share ideas.

After a short discussion, we each take turns sharing a story or query letter we are working on. If there is an upcoming pitch party, we may spend the meeting helping each other with our pitches. If someone doesn’t have anything to share, often they will still come and help others.

As far as sharing our work, we will often screen share during the meeting. Sometimes we send out our work before the meeting if we want others to have a chance to review it, other times we just look at it during the meeting. If someone is not able to make the meeting but they still would like input, they may send out a Google Doc via email during the week for others to comment on.

More Precious Than Gold

I truly have found my critique group to be more precious than gold. They are willing to give me honest feedback with my best interest in mind. If I am stuck on a pitch or certain part of a story, it has been so helpful to have other writers suggestions.

If you are looking to publish a book but do not have a critique group, I would highly suggest making it a priority. I believe it is a decision you will not regret.

Jamie Bills