Being a member of a critique group is one of the best ways to improve your writing or illustrating and is highly recommended by publishing professionals across the globe. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned member, meeting with others to discuss improving your work can be useful and fun–and is a perk of being an SCBWI member! Our region is vast, but we are working to bring opportunities to various counties.
Critique Carousel Gatherings:
The Purpose of Critique Carousels, as well SCBWI in general, is to provide members with opportunities to network and develop their craft. We understand that critiques are a big part of the journey for writers and illustrators, and we know how hard it can be to find others willing to critique. Thus, Critique Carousels are defined as follows:
1. Critique Carousels ARE
a. Periodic self-service opportunities for you to connect with others, that empower you to find a critique partner or group.
b. A safe space where you can give and get feedback on your work and also develop your on-the-spot critiquing skills.
2. But Critique Carousels do NOT
a. Match you up with a critique partner or find you a critique group.
b. Set up a regular critique group for you.
c. Exchange your information or works in progress for you.
We want to encourage you to form your own groups so you can meet regularly on your own terms and time as you see fit, in a way that’s best for you.
Suggestions to Maximize Your Participation at Critique Carousel Gatherings:
· Bring 6-8 hard copies of your work in progress or a portfolio of your artwork that is easy for several people to see at once. If you’re bringing a manuscript, this is a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with and use the “Professional Critique Opportunity” format listed below so you’re ready for more professional opportunities later.
· Consider bringing cards with your name and email to give out.
· Bring a notepad and pencil to take down names and emails of others.
· Know your schedule, and come with an idea of what you are looking for in a critique group or partner.
· Pay attention to others’ comments and feedback. Notice which writers and illustrators you would like to connect with later, and note that by their name in your notepad.
· Bring a timer, and be willing to cut people off (politely) so that everyone’s work gets feedback.
· It might be helpful to choose a leader for the table, who is in charge of the timer and can help guide the group when questions arise
· PLEASE NOTE: You don’t have to go through everything and give feedback right then at the Critique Carousel event. One approach is to read only the first page of the manuscript or picture book dummy and let the author know whether you are hooked. Another approach is to arrange manuscript exchanges at the beginning of the event and discuss when and how you can give further feedback at a later date. You can also schedule an online follow-up—especially to discuss artwork.
Professional Critique Opportunities:
Our region may, on occasion, offer professional critique opportunities for an add-on fee. Keep your eye out for these! Below are the standard requirements for those critiques. It may be a good idea to format all your manuscripts this way, which adheres to most submission guideline standards.
· Manuscript submissions should be double-spaced, size 12 font (preferably Times New Roman).
· Please put your first and last name and email address on the first page.
· Your title should be half way down the first page, with the manuscript beginning just below.
· Picture book/chapter book submissions should not exceed 5 pages, and middle grade/YA should not exceed 10 pages.
· If your submission is not from the first pages of the work, please provide a 2-3 sentence summary of the beginning.
· Illustrators may submit up to five illustrations or the first five pages of a dummy.
· You may submit polished work, or work in the very early stages of development. The goal is to leave with feedback that helps you move forward from wherever you are!
Critique Groups OPEN to New Members:
If your group is looking for members, our regional Facebook group and the SCBWI Blueboards are great places to post about it.
Alternatively, you can attend SCBWI events and connect with members looking for a critique group to join. Most events have opportunities to exchange contact information.
SCBWI Members Seeking Critique Groups:
One of the best ways to find a great Critique Group is to attend our regional events. Many groups have formed and added members as a result of getting to know other members.
Alternatively, you can post in our regional Facebook group or check the SCBWI Blueboards to see if there are any groups in your area looking for members.
· SCBWI’s The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children (note: accessible to SCBWI members only)
· For on-line critique groups or critique partners: The SCBWI Blueboard [Queries and Critique Requests-Critique Groups] (also accessible to SCBWI members only)
· Becky Levine’s The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide
· Jane Friedman’s blog: http://janefriedman.com/2015/06/25/dangers-of-writing-groups/