To follow up on my most recent post, I wanted to finish my thoughts about what to consider when starting a critique group. The first three considerations were to select the genre your group will be working in, to decide whether your group is an in-person group or an online group, and to actually find the appropriate members for your group.

Today, I’ll finish with two more thoughts:

1. How many people should be in your group?

I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules to this, and you may have to do some trial and error to see what works best. My Picture This picture book group has eight, and we work to keep it at eight, so if someone has to drop out, we’ll scramble to find someone new. Eight works for us because each person submits every two months.

Considerations when you’re trying to decide on size will be: how often do you want people to submit their work, and how many is too many when it comes to critiquing your work? I’ve been in groups larger than eight, and I’ve found that having too many people can really slow the process down, although you then have the advantage of having more eyes look through all the manuscripts.

Bottom line answer: I don’t know! It’s truly whatever works best for your group. If you decide to have only a few people, you may find yourself stretched to get your work in on time, unless you have large gaps between submissions.

2. Form some loose guidelines for how your group will operate. This is simply to keep everyone on track and to let members know upfront what is expected in terms of participation. It’s not to create a critique group police state.

Simple guidelines that tell members exactly how to submit their work (if you’re sending online), when to submit (create a submission schedule that carries you through six months to a year), and that offers some critiquing tips is all very helpful, especially to writers who may be new to critique groups.

If you’re meeting in person, it’s best to send the manuscripts to the group ahead of time so that when you meet, everyone has had a chance to look through the drafts and write down their comments. You may want to include some guidelines as to how this process will work. Guidelines will help members be better prepared and will create a smoother process for your group overall.

If you’ve started a critique group or have been a “founding member” of one, what tips or advice can you share?

Be sure to stop back next Monday, February 15th, as I will be hosting award-winning children’s author Nancy I. Sanders on her virtual book tour for her new release, America’s Black Founders.

See ya then!

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