Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG #6: Critique Partners/Beta Readers


It's that time again for sharing with the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
What is that you may ask, well their mission statement is this:


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. Our goal is to offer assistance and guidance. We want to help writers overcome their insecurities, and by offering encouragement we are creating a community of support.

The first Wednesday of each month, we blog about our fears, insecurities, or even an accomplishment we had.

Hard to believe 6 months have passed since I started this. Well 7 months, but I missed a month posting. Where has the time gone? 

For this month's post I'm bringing up my insecurities surrounding critique partners/beta readers. On the web and various places writers are told how invaluable these are to the process and I would agree, however what do you do when you can't find/keep one from start to finish of a project?

That's the problem I faced when working on my first book. Considering its origins one could argue I had a fairly decent group of betas with it being a blog story first, but it's not the same. Writing a blog the people that come, read, and hopefully comment on your story understand you're doing this for fun and it's not meant to be a professional quality thing. Making that switch, I wanted to follow that process but I found it to be harder than I thought.

I joined a few different online groups, connected with people thought I was doing the right thing but it never worked out for me. I did beta reading for others, we'd do chapter swaps but when their projects ended while mine was still going the communication faded. It does make one second guess themselves when you can't keep the interest of the beta that they drop the project. Now I understand life happens, people get busy, things happen. When it happens the first time, you're like okay, move on, but the third, forth, etc you really start to think you're the problem. A serious case of it's me not them sets in. How will your book do out in the world if you can't even keep the 'tester' group invested? It made me question what I was doing wrong, and I was left trying to figure out the problem was. I'm still trying to figure it out. 

I did have two very helpful ladies that knew the story from the blog that gave me feedback on the book for which I was/am grateful. But for that new person, that stranger outside the bubble of where it started that I was hoping to get a gauge on, well that failed. I'm still at a loss as to what to do and how to handle things when it gets to that stage with my new project. I know I can go back to those ladies, I still talk to both regularly about all things not just writing. It could all be in my head, but even knowing I have them there I have this need/desire to have a stranger, new person, that I'm not connected to personally to give me that honest feedback. 

So for those of you out there, how did you find success in finding and keeping critique partners/betas? I'd love some tips on how to better my luck in this area. 

IWSG Question of the Month: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

For me it's being able to unleash my crazy thoughts into the world. As a writer you have the ability to create magical things with your world and characters. Getting to bring all that to life feels great.

Thanks for stopping by
~Meka

18 comments:

  1. That's an excellent question. I used to belong to a local writer's group, but it disbanded when a couple of key people moved away. I'm not sure what I'll do when I finish another novel. Guess I'll look online as well.

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    1. I've never tried to find a local face-to-face group. I guess that is something to consider. Hope you have some luck when the time comes and you need one again.

      Thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  2. Hello, Meka. I've found my best critique partners online via an organization for writers in my genre (WFWA). I've also found a good face-to-face critique group via Meetup. Though they don't write in my genre, we're committed to helping each other. At 20 pages twice a month, it takes a long time to plod through a novel, though. Still looking for the ideal beta reader, but what I have now helps immensely. Best of luck in your search.

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    1. Thanks for the info. I've not heard of either of those options so it's something to research. I'm glad you've been able to find something that works for you. :)

      Thank you, hopefully I'll find what I need soon.

      Thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  3. The IWSG Facebook Critique Circle might be a place to look. Or even just asking for help on the main IWSG Facebook page. You just need to find someone who is trustworthy.

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    1. I just recently found that and had my request accepted. I wasn't sure about posting on the main page, didn't know if that was against the rules or something. It's scary to send your work out to a stranger so trying to find someone from a good site.

      thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  4. I found my CP by applying the whole "I want what he has" approach. I loved his blog. I loved his humor and I absolutely loved his books. But most of all, I loved that he didn't judge me on my blog and what I was going through on there because I knew that eventually I'd write a self-help book about it and I wanted him to be a part of that journey. So I emailed him one day and shared all that with him. Thankfully, he said yes. And lemme tell you, that man is a saint. He taught me a ton. I am forever grateful to him. So, I guess that's my long-winded way of saying that if there is someone out there that you follow and admire, or who follows you, reach out to them, you never know. Good luck!

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    1. Wow, that's awesome that worked out for you. I think I'd be too nervous to reach out to someone like that. I mean you never know how it will work out til you try and the worst they can say is no. Still it sounds scary.

      thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  5. A good critique partner (and/or beta reader) is hard to find. Keeping a good one is even harder. Diane Wolfe had a great idea. Check it out. Good luck!

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    1. Yes I am finding that. I did connect with one person from the IWSG critique page so we'll see how that works out.

      thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  6. Hi Meka
    Well...tons of things entered my head while reading your post. My life history flashed before my eyes.

    More than twenty-five years ago I joined an in person critique group through a writer's group here in Denver, Colorado. I knew nothing. Plus I had some serious writing handicaps. They were great and so patient. But not one was published.

    A few years later the moderator left and I took up the position for close to twenty years. In that time several members were published and immediately left the group. Eventually I became frustrated with that because to me, their new publishing contract meant that they were valuable assets. However, they were selfish and didn't care about contributing to the rest of us.

    Shortly there after I became too sick to continue. When I recovered, I began looking for an online group. That has taken years to find and I love everyone. We are multi-genre. So, occasionally someone doesn't get some aspect of one of the genre's.

    My advice to you is this. Don't take it personally. Those former critique partners only wanted help with their own stuff. Next, follow the advice of several commenters above. Be persistent, you'll find someone.
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy,
      Thank you for such a detailed and personal response. Sorry to hear the ones that could have shared their experiences left the group once they 'made it'. Having them around to give words of wisdom would have been a big help to the rest of the group.

      I'm glad you're feeling better and have found a new critique home. :) It's not a bad thing to not always understand an aspect of a genre. It gives those authors a chance to see how their work would make it with people that don't regularly read that genre, to see if they could win them over so to speak.

      I will try to not take it personally. May not always be as easily done as said, but I'll try. I'm going to keep trying and hope that I find someone.

      thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  7. Critique groups and beta readers are tricky. Even if someone's project isn't done, there may be other reasons to move on. I hope you can figure it out and get a full read on your story.

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    1. Yes it is very tricky. I don't pester people so if they drop off after I've attempted to contact them I just let it go. Hopefully I will find someone to stick with it from start to finish. :)

      thanks for stopping by

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  8. I would 100% suggest you either find an in person group or start one. There is nothing like that personal support. They become your tribe!

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    1. I'm working on finding a partner. Not sure if I'd be able to start my own group, but it is a thought.

      thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  9. I never really had betas for the longest time either--just professional editors. Giving my novel to friends and other people I knew for feedback drove me nuts--give it to five people, get five wildly different opinions.

    These days, if I need help, I have a wonderful community of friends from my publishing company that I can draw on. But my most valuable resource is always the professional editor.

    I wouldn't blame yourself. Beta reading is really time-consuming, and it's work. I'm an editor by trade, and it's draining for me to do that much work for free, but it's a two-way street with my horror betas. It'll take me quite a while sometimes though.

    So it's probably not you at all!

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    1. That's true, the opinions could vary and that could be a good test run of what I could expect from potential readers.

      I'm hoping to build up a base of people as I make more connections. I try to be helpful to others because I know it's a two way street. I haven't found a publisher or an editor. I self published and will most likely be going that route again. I have been researching editor options this time around.

      Beta reading is time consuming. I don't mind helping people and this time around I'm trying to get a better feel of people before taking up an exchange. I'll keep at it because I would like to have a person to chat with and work out details.

      thanks for stopping by

      Delete