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Apr 7, 2021

Critique Partners: Covering the Basics

By: Addy Thome

Your critique partners (CPs) will be some of the most insightful readers to ever look through your book. Why? Because unlike your readers, they’re writers. Writers like you who have studied the craft, have written their own books, and are probably planning to seek (or actively seeking) publication.

Before we get into the benefits of having a CP, let’s discuss the difference between CPs and beta readers. 

CPs are fellow writers you exchange work with. They—like you—are looking for feedback from someone else. CPs are free because instead of money, you pay them in feedback.

Beta readers, on the other hand, are not writers. They’re usually readers looking to consume every book they can. A beta reader’s perception is going to be based on emotion—reactions they had to the plot, characters, and overall story. They read your manuscript as a reader—not a writer. This is valuable, as beta readers’ comments won’t be tainted by studying the writing craft. Instead, their comments will be from a reader’s perspective.

Currently, I'm working with two CPs and one beta reader—all of which have been incredibly valuable to the quality of my work. In this post, I’ll talk mostly about CP’s and their feedback. If you’re looking for a post on editors or beta readers, check out other posts on the CritiqueMatch Blog

When seeking a CP, you’ll start by considering the type of feedback you’re looking for. Some CPs specialize in specific types of feedback, while others can offer a wide variety. You have to decide what you need for your manuscript.

After that, you’ll consider genre. Generally, you’d want a CP who writes the same genre you do—however, if you’re merely looking for grammar feedback, the genre your CP writes in won’t matter (as grammar is universal.) But if you’re looking for plot or character feedback, a CP who works in the same genre will be more valuable.
I use the “filter” option in CritiqueMatch to sort out genre in the “search partners” directory. 

After filtering the search results, I look at the biography and average rating of the CP. Usually, by the style and tone of the writing in their bio, I can tell whether or not they’re for me. However, if you’re not sure from the bio and filter results, don’t worry. Oftentimes, when working with a new partner, you’ll start with sending the first chapter. After reading your partner’s writing and they review your writing, you can have an open discussion about your critique partnership.

It’s okay if the first few partners don’t work out. It’s normal to meet people who seem well-suited for your needs and then later realize they're not. The best thing you can do when working with partners is to be honest about how you feel.
CPs might become some of your closest writing friends. They might offer advice that won’t only change your perspective but also change your entire book. In the end, whether or not you’ll work with CPs is up to you.

But my decision to find partners changed my skill, my perspective on editing, and the quality of my writing—and I’m forever grateful for taking that step.


About the author 
Addy is a fantasy writer living in Illinois. She’s always been an eager reader, and began writing her own books in fifth grade. Ever since, she’s loved writing and hopes to query agents in the future in pursuit of traditional publication.