Finding Good Critique Partners

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Now for the hard part: finding quality critique partners and finding your best match(es). There is no easy, cut & dry answer to this, but there are a variety of ways and places to find CPs, it just may take some leg work.

I found some of my best CPs years ago in a place that no longer does CP matching, a blog called Miss Snark's First Victim. It was a hub for the aspiring YA writer community at that time (it's still a great blog and community, but less of a hub), and thus when the blog host did a CP matching service, the types of people posting seeking CPs were exactly the types of people "on my level"--seriously pursuing traditional publishing, but not yet agented. One of those CP matches I found there is STILL my CP, four years later, and both of us now have book deals. (Hers is DARE MIGHTY THINGS by Heather Kaczynski, coming from HarperTeen October 2017. I have been with this book for 4 years, and I love it.)

So I recommend you go to the hub of YOUR writing community, whatever that is, to find CPs who will stick. Currently the writing community online is far flung and widespread, which means--yay!--a lot of places to look, but also, well, a lot of places to look, so more work on your end. Here are some places I recommend:

/r/YAwriters (or other relevant writing sub). I moderate this sub-reddit and we hold regular critique partner matching services. People are also always welcome to post their own thread seeking a CP. We have a lot of subscribers, many of whom are seriously writing towards publication, and I know many CP love matches have been made on our sub.

Writing community forums, such as Query Tracker, Agent Query Connect, Absolute Write, etc. I have not personally sought CPs here, but they are good and active communities. These are also places I recommend posting your query for critique, and scouting excellent queries can be a backwards way to find CPs (see below).

Ladies Who Critique. I have a friend who has used this recently to connect with CPs, to varying levels of success.

Swoon Reads. In 2016 SR did a CP matching post, so look in 2017 to see if they do the same! (This is ideal for those writing romance/are part of that community)

#CPmatch is a Twitter hashtag that is used to find CPs. Join the Twitter writer community and see what's there!

Online contest community. If you participate in Pitch Wars, Pitch Madness, Author Mentor Match (my program! Use #AMMParty or #AuthorMentorMatch), Query Kombat, etc., you can find GREAT CP matches among these communities of hopefuls. Most of the bonding/relationship building for these programs happens on Twitter, so this is another note to join the writer community on Twitter.

Maggie Stiefvater's CP Match Google Group. Author Maggie Stiefvater used to run a very popular CP matching service on her blog once a year, which she turned into a Google Group you can find by searching "critique-partner-matchup." It is still active today! You can post & browse to find a good match.

WriteOnCon forums. This is an annual online-only writer's conference (just resurrected in 2017!) where serious kidlit writers come together for query and page critiques/advice/support. The forum is active year-round, although the conference is held annually in February. You can browse the 2017 posts and contact some people, or wait for the 2018 event. It's a great place to find fellow writers who are just before the querying stage.

These are all existing resources where there is an expectation that if someone posts looking for a CP, that you can and should reach out.

But I'm going to let you in on one of my secret weapons: cold contacting people with amazing book pitches. I know what you're thinking: "OMG, Alexa, you are crazy, and I am an introvert, and I could NEVER do that!!!" Y'all, I'm an introvert too, with mild social anxiety, but perhaps I've just lived on the Internet so long that I have been emboldened by extreme confidence.

Basically: if you see an amazing book pitch in an online contest (entry or Twitter pitch), posted as a query critique to any online writer's community, etc., reach out to that author and humbly ask if they perchance need or would like a CP. Sometimes they say no. I have a few "the ones that got away," but I also found some amazing people this way.

A personal story: I joined an agented author's group with Elly Blake in 2014 and recognized her book title from Pitch Wars. I sent her an email saying her book sounded amazing and I'd love to CP for her, if she needed someone, and let me tell you: she is now my second closest CP.  We turned out to be a GREAT fit, and I was able to CP for her at a critical time, between rounds of submission. Her book, FROSTBLOOD, came out in January 2017 from Little, Brown, and every time I see it, I like to go "It's Shake & Bake, and I helped!" (I'm giving away my age here.) I put myself out there and took a risk, after being told "no thanks" several times in the past. I'm so glad the one area of my life where apparently I have endless gumption is in cold contacting CPs on the Internet.

Ultimately, you need to offer to CP on books that actually sound good to you. You can go outside your comfort zone to read something that sounds interesting, but generally you'll find the most success staying in-genre, whatever that is for you. Seek out books that sound interesting and in the same general wheelhouse as yours--if you'd like to read theirs, maybe they'll like to read yours? Use your best judgement, you'll be more likely to forge quality and lasting CP connections. In the next section, read about how to best work with CPs--and how to approach your relationships (and possibly end them).

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