If you’re interested in writing/illustrating for children (or anyone, really) then I highly recommend joining a critique group. I’ve already written about the WHY, but today I’d like to share the HOW
!How to Find a Critique Group
1. Writing Associations: SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) and other writing associations have all sorts of resources, including how to find critique groups. In a matter of a few simple clicks you can be directed to a list of critique groups near you. I could write a whole post about the benefits of joining SCBWI, but for now, trust me when I say it’s a good idea. Once you join, you can find a your local chapter’s page. Most chapters have a link for critique groups where they list current groups and contact information, or at least the contact information for the chapter’s Critique Group Coordinator (that’s me for Eastern PA!).
2. On-Line Groups, Blogs, Social Media Groups, etc. There are a whole host of on-line writing and illustrating groups (many free) that offer ways to connect with other writers and illustrators. Examples include Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 Picture Book Challenge (fee required to join the challenge); Facebook groups like Sub It Club Critique Partner Matchup, KidLit411 Manuscript Swap, KidLit411 Portfolio Critique Swap; The Writers Match (free – like matchmaker site for writers); and Inked Voices (fee required). The SCBWI Blue Boards have ways to connect with other writers/illustrators looking to swap critiques or form groups, and I’m sure there are other groups you can find through other social media sites that I’m not aware of. Feel free to post in the comments any other on-line places you know of that offer ways to join or form critique groups.
3. Attend Writing/Illustrating Conferences & Events. Attending conferences, workshops, meet & greets, classes, and speaking events means meeting other writers and illustrators. You’ll often find one or a few people who are looking to exchange feedback on manuscripts, dummies and portfolios. Mix & mingle and ask others if they have a group near you with an opening, or would like to form a new in-person or on-line critique group.
4. Word of Mouth. The more you become involved in the kid lit/writing/illustrating world, the more you will discover. I joined my first critique group by following tip #1. I joined my second group because I heard from a writer friend that two other writer-illustrator friends were looking to join/form a group. And I’ve done on-line manuscript critique swaps because I heard from a friend about someone who was interested in doing that on an occasional basis. Attend events, join on-line groups, follow/friend/connect with kidlit folks on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., listen to blogs, make new friends!
But what if you haven’t been able to find a group in your area (or online) that “fits” (meets in your location on days/times that work for you and in your genre)? One thing you can do is to keep checking back at your local chapter’s Critique Group Listing. Things change often, so you may find an opening later. Second, consider starting your own critique group! It may sound intimidating, but there’s really not much to it, and your local Critique Group Coordinator is there to help you get started.
If I still haven’t convinced you to join or start a critique group, stay tuned for my next post that will address the “who, where, and when” questions you might have. In the meantime, feel free to ask questions or submit comments below. For those seasoned critiquers, I’d love to hear your experiences in finding or forming your critique groups
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Heather is a busy wife and mom of five rambunctious children and one lovable pup They all provide lots of distractions, but oodles of inspiration. Sometimes the pictures and ideas in her head turn into her own children's stories, but she always makes time to read other people's books. Sometimes she reviews them here.