For Christy's Query Letter Blogfest Entry, please click here (or scroll down three posts). Thanks!

It's time for #10 on our list of best/worst things about being an aspiring author: posting work on writing forums

I (erica) have posted a little about my critique experiences before. I was a part of a wonderful critique group made up of friends I made at ABNA (with published, about-to-be-published, and aspiring authors). I had a beta reader (waves to JC). I email things to friends (shout out to christy). I post snippets on this blog. I enter blog hops where I have to write something interesting and compelling and up for review (er, well, sometimes I let my son do that one!). (note: this has nothing to do with the query blogfest christy is in this week. that's a very helpful way of critiquing work and I am totally in support of it. in fact, please follow the link above and comment on hers. it's pretty great.)

But what about critique forums? You know, blogs and sites that ask authors to post first pages (or queries or synopses or first five pages or. . .)? I've had mixed feelings about this for awhile. They are not all bad - any critique can help you mature as an author. But they can be very limited - sometimes you happen upon a blog/forum where people know each other and pat each others backs while giving newbies a run for their money (sometimes deservedly, sometimes not) (yuck, I so do not care if I sit at the cool kids' table anymore). Sometimes the people critiquing and posting are in completely different genres and unfamiliar with what works. Quite often, people make conflicting comments and leave an author scratching their head and wondering what exactly was wrong/right with it. Sometimes - and please tell me in the comments if this happened to you on a public forum - you can find the perfect match. *ahhh*

I have participated in a few public forums. As you guys know, christy and I both participated in writeoncon this past summer and posted work for review (and found each other, of course). I got a few responses that were very helpful - but in a sense, that was an unusual forums arrangement. Its participants were actively looking to get feedback in preparation for the conference and possible agent/editor recognition - and the best way to get feedback is to give it (and woc was all kidlit - organized forums in YA, MG, and PB). This is a good thing.

Another forum (not to be named, sorry) gave me a sour taste in my mouth - I got comments like "If I read another first-person book, I'm gonna' puke" and "I'd be happy to review your first page if you look at mine first." NOT HELPFUL. And, yes, the infamous "realistic contemporary is so boring, I refuse to read any more of yours" critique I got last summer. grr.

Do you participate in any critique forums (or have you)? Do you love them? Do you hate them? Do you ignore them? Or are you one of those that reads and never participates, laughing at the fact that your book is going to be so much better than all the drivel the other authors put out there (come on, you know there's people like that out there. none of our followers, of course. but, you know, "lurkers")?

And in the interest of public disclosure - in case you missed it the other times I posted it (hey, it's my 15 minutes of fame) - here's the link to my Nathan Bransford first-page critique last July (disclaimer - this isn't my first page anymore, well, not exactly). Not that an agent critique is equal to peer-critiques - they're a whole new animal. However, there are some interesting comments from other aspiring authors if you feel like taking the time to look at them (and yes, you might recognize a few of them - my friends are really wonderful). Okay, two links - first this one and then here.


  1. I dont think i've done pub forums b4 I just could not handle all of that right now. Sometimes I tell myself to just chill, my personality does not mesh with public reviews and we all have diff routes to publication. I tell myself i dont have to do it all to get published all I do is find what works for me, give it my all and hope for the best.

  2. I don't do forums for that last reason you posted there. People are unnecessarily rude/mean. If you don't want to read it, don't. No need to be a jerk about it. What makes people feel the need to just be ugly? Makes me so furious. No matter how many kind, helpful, wonderful people are out there there are half as many rude, hateful, and crappy people ready to bring you down for no reason. I'll post tidbits on my own blog if I need help with something. I trust people that follow me not to be rude and they never have been!!

  3. Hi Erica,

    That is wonderful that you won that critique with Nathan Bransford! Interesting what he said about showing and telling and stilted dialogue.

    I have never participated in writing forums with my work. However, I did once win a blog contest (with a writing exercise). My prize was a critique with an editor (he read the first five chapters of my novel). It was so exciting and useful!

    Best of luck with this project. Sounds interesting.


  4. Sadly, most of the critique groups I've participated in I've had to pay for... but, that was my choice. (writer's workshops, gotham writer's, etc.) I also used to post little snippets of stuff to writing.com - which offered some helpful feedback. But, I agree that sometimes if you just post it anywhere for anyone to access...feedback can be conflicting. And whose advice do you take? Not knowing the critiquers background or genre preference? Still...you need to get your writing out there. I guess it never hurts to try what you can and find the forums that work best for you.

  5. This is a great question. I don't post on writer's forums. The idea has always made me a bit uncomfortable. I can take a critique from the best and worst of them, I'm just leery of posting my work on line. I think for many it does a lot of good though.

  6. Interesting that most don't! However, when one doesn't have a critique group or a partner, I suppose there aren't that many other alternatives when it comes time to get the necessary feedback before querying.

    I posted at writeoncon. I posted once on Nathan Bransfor'd site, but never really went back. I joined an online critique group formed after writeoncon, called the voice. It's a very nice group of writers, but somewhat large. I think smaller groups may work better because the people can become more familiar with each other and the (full) stories they are critiquing. It might eliminate the fear factor a bit, too. Sharing with those you are comfortable with.

    How many online forums are there for critiquing work?

    How did you all find your crit partners/groups? (Oh, I'm in the comments section and not the posting section? Next time then.)

    Thanks, Erica! Christy

  7. The only time I ever did anything was post mine on writeoncon.com this past year. I took the plunge and posted my work in the forums (the first 250 words I think?). I got some great feedback, and everyone on there seemed really nice. Writeoncon happened while I was just starting with blogging/keeping up with blogs so I didn't really know anyone. I am excited for the next one since I know so many more people now.

  8. Agreed then. We'll send to each other (yes, I'm agreeing with myself. It's okay.).

    Seriously, thank you for your feedback. And if you want to send anything to me, send it. I give seriously funny critiques. Also, helpful (no matter the genre).

    Now, onto the link to my left - Twelve Lovely Man Butts. (Hart's blog link - it's calling to me. Also Matthew's Patronus link. But first. . .)

    Have you followed the links on our sidebars? You should. They're pretty great.

  9. I never posted on open forums. I started with ABNA, where I met Erica, and then did writeoncom. There I did get some great feedback, and yes the authors were very nice and helpful.

    I also was lucky enough to be in a small crit group after ABNA and had wonderfully supportive crtit partners. My last the most helpful... Thanks Josh.

    Through the blogs I have met some amazing people, two of whom I met here Erica. Your wonderful co-host and and Patty Times, just to name a few.

    I could vouch for Erica's ctits, they are quite funny and helpful. Especially when you must commit murders...



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