Wednesday, January 4

Are You Looking for a Critique Group or Partner?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It's Crit Time Again!

Back in 2013 I started a Yahoo Group called "Janice Hardy's Critique Connection" to help writers connect with like-minded folks looking for critique groups or partners. It was designed to help people find long-term, quality writing partners, not just places you can toss up your work and get quick feedback.

It went from a one-time thing to annually, and now to every six months (I open it up every January and July). If you're looking to join or create a group, add more to your existing group, or find a critique partner, odds are you'll find someone here.

Just to be clear, I'm not personally critiquing anything in this group. This is for writers who are looking for critique partners or critique groups for more than just "I need some eyes on this before I submit it to an agent" type critiques. I'm solely a facilitator to help people connect without having to post their email addresses online, which some folks are hesitant to do.

How This Works

If you'd like to join the Yahoo group, simply email me at janice [@] janicehardy [dot] com, and tell me what you write and what you're looking for (group or a partner). I'll send you an invitation to the group and add your information to the master list of members. You'll join and send a hello email, start talking to others and see who writes what and what everyone is looking for.

There's a master list of members and what they write in the "Files" section, and I update that daily as new people join and send me their information. Since the list has gotten huge over the years, there's now a "Past Members" list, and it's okay to look there as well if you don't see a good match on this year's list. You can always ask if a past member is still looking.

This is all private and by invitation only, so random folks googling "crit groups" won't be barging in or anything. You can come and go as you please. Once you find fellow writers to work with, feel free to drop the group if you'd like. It might take a few days for people to sign up, so if it's quiet when you first join, be patient and more will appear. The first week or two is usually busy, and it slows down by week three as everyone matches up. It's always available for members (I don't close it), but it's usually only busy during January and July.

(Here's more on finding the right critique partner)

Interested in Starting Your Own Group?

One of the tougher parts of creating critique groups (aside from finding people to join) is finding a place to host it. Unless everyone is local, there's no central place for people to share their work.

I've had great luck with Yahoo Groups for this. I've been in three different critique groups using this service, and it makes it a lot easier. You can invite people to join, have a forum and a site to upload work and critiques, and email the group as a whole. Everything is private and you can control who joins.

Ideally, people will join the Critique Connection group, hang out and meet compatible writers, then break off and form their own Yahoo group. It's easy peasy to create one, and people can even leave a description of their group on the CC site if they're looking for more members. Of course, they're free to meet up however works for them as well. Partners could just email each other, for example.

(Here's more on the benefits of a good critique group)

Critique Commitments

If you've never been in a critique group before, it's good to know that there are commitments to be made. Each group sets its own rules, but for a group to work and run well, people need to adhere to those rules. For example, I've had groups that turned in X-words every X weeks for works in progress, and groups that read whole projects at once over a predetermined time frame depending on the size of the project (five days for short stories, three to five weeks on novels).

It's not a bad idea to think about what you want and how much time you can spend. A hard-core group that wants to submit a chapter a week won't work for someone who wants a once-a-month schedule. People looking for plotting and story development help for first drafts want different things than writers looking to polish finished drafts.

(Here's more on getting the most out of a critique)

Plus, quality critiques take time. If it takes you two hours to critique a chapter, and your five-person group submits a chapter each every two weeks, that's twenty hours a month for the group. If that's a commitment you can't make, that's not the right group for you (and there's nothing wrong with that, everyone has different needs and available time).

(Here's more on putting feedback to good use)

Going in prepared increases your chances of success.

So that's the deal. Anyone who'd like to find some fellow critiquers can let me know.


  1. So, I have to ask: with all the not-so-good news about Yahoo! recently, are you still comfortable using them? (Seems like a general question, so asking it here instead of by mail.)
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. No site is fully secure, so information IS going to get stolen from somewhere. Target, Home Depot, Yahoo, Google, they've all been hit in the last several years. The best way to protect ourselves is to use multiple passwords and accounts for different levels of security. For example, don't use your bank password as the password on a free forum site. Make sure that if someone gets your info, they have zero access to anything valuable, such as financial passwords or credit card info.

      Yahoo's breach was also three or four years ago, so I'd imagine the problem has been fixed for a while now. They just took a long time to tell anyone about it.

      All my email is still with Yahoo, I'm still using them. I protect myself to the best of my ability. I don't see an issue with using their group service.

      But if someone feels uncomfortable, I'd suggest creating a throwaway email address (like on Yahoo), and only use it for the group (or free sites that are likely to get hacked).

    2. Thanks for the reply, Janice. A reasonable approach.

  2. Thanks Janice. A great idea, especially as not everyone is on Facebook (yet!). And you're right about nothing online being infallible.