8.21.2006

Paid critique sites

Your Snarkiness,

Any thoughts on the critique site thenextbigwriter.com? If you submit something on here, will it hurt your chances of getting published by a real publishing house? Is there real potential to get valuable feedback from others, or should I put my energies to better use?


What you do to get your ms in shape to go out in the world is your business. I do NOT want to hear what you did to prune, fluff, fold, or polish the thing. Much like I don't want to see Miss America getting ready for the swimsuit contest.

If you elect to join one of these PAID critique circles, have at it. Don't tell me when you query. I'm certainly not going to ask you.

Whether it's valuable is too subjective to know. The reviewers listed looked like they know how to write given they have pub credits.

I'll bet there's a thread over at Absolute Write on this, or things like it.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Use the Crapometer, Young Luke. -JTC

Kimber An said...

Why pay for it when you can get it for free? Critique Circle gets writers together from all over the world. Some can give you great feedback on the plot and characters. Some are Grammer Gurus. Some are published.

Ryan Field said...

Maybe I'm too pragmatic, but getting a critique (paid or free) is basically getting an opinion. And opinions are like assholes: everybody has one. When you write erotica you should be sexually excited the entire time you're writing the piece; and if you're not excited while writing it nobody is going to get excited while reading it. The same goes for all genres. So you better like what you write, trust your own opinion, and screw what anyone else thinks.

Dwight The Troubled Teen said...

BE ADVISED!

I just signed up not 20 minutes ago, and my blood pressure is already through the roof.

$40 for a novel critique seemed like it was too good to be true, but that's what all the registration materials said...

UNTIL you complete the payment process. THEN the word "Novel" becomes "Novel chapter."

Your $40 gets you a review on only 5000 words.

Anonymous said...

While Ryan has a point, he overstates it. Yes, ideally one reaches a degree of compentence which allows one to trust one's own opinion, but usually it takes a long time before such self-trust is justified. Until then, screwing what anyone else thinks is the recipe for remaining eternally unpublished.

The key is to find GOOD people whose opinions one can trust most, if not all, of the time.

Cheryl Mills said...

There is a thread on this at Absolute Write which leads right back here. Very interesting reading.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I'm partial to Crapometer. I like the Meters. They're a nice bunch. They give mostly good advice. And it's fun, social, instructive and just well ... fun. Works too.

But, for me, the very best has been finding a beta reader who knows her stuff. HI BARBARA!!!

Go find thou thine own.

Kara Lennox said...

I would never have gotten published if I hadn't joined a critique group, the members of which pointed out all the fatal errors I was making. (None of them were published when we started the group; all eventually became published.)

But a critique is only as good as the person giving it. Publishing credentials are an indication, but not ironclad; I know some published authors who are miserable, mean, destructive critiquers. I also know some unpublished authors who are fabulous.

You don't need to pay for critiques. Find other aspiring writers, people at about your own level, and start exchanging critiques. You might have to try several people before you find the ones most helpful to you.

Even if you love what you write, you'll inevitably make mistakes because you are too close to the work. A good critiquer can catch continuity problems, repeated words and the like, helping you to submit the most polished manuscript possible. And if you love the work but you know there's a problem, a fresh eye can see things you can't.

I know critique groups and partners aren't for everyone, but sometimes they can be very valuable. Just my two cents.

Kimber An said...

Oh, dwight, ouch! You have my sympathy. At CC, besides free crits you'll get a lot of great encouragement and valuable tips on how to avoid snakes like that in the future.

Elektra said...

Come over to the Crapometer--the queue is nearly dried up, and we need some fresh blood--er, submissions...

December Quinn said...

I fourth the Crapometer. It's excellent, and as Sha'el pointed out, it's fun too.

Sue said...

There are many good, free, critique groups, both online and in person. Find the one that fits. Find one with rules that are fair and enforced.

And, if you don't want to go that route. Use a "wise reader". I read about wise readers in one of Orson Scott Card's books on writing. This is a person you can trust to give you an honest opion AS A READER. (Note, you are writing for Joe Reader.)

Ask them to discuss your work as to clarity, interest, passages that work for them, ones that bog the flow down. NOTHING they say is wrong as they are responding to their reading, not your writing, though that is the end result.

Actually, it helps to get two or three wise readers. Some people call them beta readers. These are people you trust, and if more than one gives you the same opinion, guess what, it may be more than an opinion.

Dwight The Troubled Teen said...

"There are many good, free, critique groups, both online and in person. Find the one that fits. Find one with rules that are fair and enforced."

Respectfully, Ms. Sue: Bullshit Challenge.

There may be MANY if you live in the 212, but there's bupkiss out here in the styx.

And easier to get a Rolling Stone into rehab than it is to find a critiquer who is willing to crit out of their genre blinders.

Sue said...

Well, Dwight, do you write genre or mainstream? If you tell us what you write, I am sure there are people here who can recommend some online groups, online not being bound by geography.

And, I know many writers who live outside the 212 (as I do) who would disagree with your opinion.

kis said...

Dwight,

Try critters.org. They do everything by email and all you gotta do is give a crit a week. Or the Crapometer. Elektra runs a pretty good system over there, and if you don't have time to read and critique everything she posts, she doesn't hold it against you. And the Meters are much gentler than your average Minion or Snarkling.

As for being in the styx, try living on the far northern tip of Van-freaking-couver Island. Not just Canuckyland, but the great empty, soggy north of it. I live 320km (almost 200 miles) from the nearest bloody Walmart. The closest fellow writer probably lives 9 hours away by road and ferry.

Jo Bourne said...

Hi Dwight -

For critique and support, I'd recommend the Books and Writers Forum --

http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=start&webtag=ws-books

B&W provides crits on short passages and general advice and support. Their sister Forum has an active novels critique group.

Do you write in a genre? There may be an online group specific to your needs.

JoB

Anonymous said...

Hi Sha'el! *blushes*
Kis, for what it's worth, I live on the southern end of Vancouver Island, but did live for some years in Sooke, without electricity or running water (mind you, this was pre-internet, so the lack of electricity didn't matter much).
-Barbara

kis said...

Ooh, and Dwight, critters also offers a designated readers service, where they match you with crit partners for the entirety of your novel. That way, the people evaluating your writing will be familiar with the whole novel, not just each individual chapter. I'd do it, but I'm a total wuss. They'd probably match me up with Hawkowl--noooooo! Maybe one day, though...

Dwight The Troubled Teen said...

Hahahaha! No, I'm the one who deserves the Hawkowl karma.

Thank you all for your kind suggestions. I will investigate the resources y'all brought to my attention.

Anonymous said...

Great, but when does the crap begin?

Dwight The Troubled Teen said...

Okay, for those of us Wannabes who write (or pretend we write) Literary Fiction:

Critters.org doesn't do "mainstream."

Books and Writers only crits snippets.

So... I'm back to my BS Challenge. I'm from Missouri. Show me. Where are the many resources available to me? Many? I'll settle for one.

I'm doing my part. I have a "No Crit Refused" policy. My crit to crit request ratio is at 10 to 1.

My local Writers Group is huge, but the mystery writers only want to crit mysteries. The SF/F folks only want to crit the same. Nobody wants to cop to writing LitFic except me.

kis said...

Yeah, I don't know. Foreward Motion was set up by Holly Lisle (she writes fantasy) but you could try there. I think they offer critiques. Same with Hatrack River (Orson Scott Card--SFF again, I know, I know). They do a thing with the first thirteen lines, but I haven't looked at all the other stuff they offer. Go have a look.

And try the crapometer. They only do ten pages at a time, but ya never know, you might be able to find a beta-reader among the Meter Readers. Email Elektra and see if she might be willing to fix you up with someone.

There seems to be a tight-knit community feel among genre fiction writers that is missing with lit-fic people. I guess the idea is that Literary authors should have to suffer alone for their art.

If you're really hard up, take your lit-fic novel, add a teeny, imaginary guy with an eyepatch and lederhosen who sits on your MC's shoulder and gives him advice (embodiment of his conscience or whatever) and voila! You've got a fantasy and any number of critique options.

Kanani said...

I think you really have to be careful with whom you choose to share your MS with.

I've sat in on a lot of workshops and the quality varies widely. You really have to find someone whose opinion you respect, and it helps if you enjoy their style of writing and POV as well.

My recommendation is that you find a free one, sit in on a 5 sessions and see who makes the best comments, who offers the criticism that isn't based on what they don't or do like, but more on what's going to make your writing stronger. (In other words, it's a bad sign when someone starts off a crit by saying, "I really don't like this genre, and I didn't find it interesting." That's someone you really don't need to deal with).

Asking anyone to critique an entire novel is tall order. You can also work with someone for awhile and parse out my chapters bit by bit.

Whether it's in a workshop or just a free community-based writing group, you'll find pearls and clunkers in all of them. Paying for something isn't necessarily going to be a guarantee of the right critique for your needs.

Kanani said...

Dwight...
Perhaps you could contact someone over at the Missouri Review? What sort of critique groups do the people over there know about? I had an excellent teacher once from Springfield, MO. She had been with the MR.

It's one of my favorites. A real gem. Missouri Review

wonderer said...

The Crapometer (Elektra's, not Miss Snark's) does lit fic. There's a whole mishmash of stuff on there, actually. It's nice - forces everybody to read outside their genre, and gives the posters fresh perspectives.

Anonymous said...

Where is Absolute Write?