A New Way to Find Critique Partners

I get a good bit of email via this blog asking me questions. And I have to say one of the most popular questions I get asked is--can you critique my work? This is closely followed by--where do I find beta readers/crit partners?

These are tough questions to answer because, well, on the first one the answer is usually no. For me to thoroughly crit one chapter for someone, I usually need 1-2 hours. Seriously. I'm detailed. You'll feel like you've had a proctology exam. And between blogging, writing on a deadline, being a mom and wife,  I just honestly don't have the time these days. I even had to leave my own crit group last year because I couldn't dedicate enough time to be an active participant. So now I just exchange with a few trusted betas when I can.

However, just as a sidenote and a shameless self-promotion, Kat Brauer will be auctioning off a crit from me over at Crits for Water in May. All proceeds will go to an awesome charity that provides clean water to countries where that is hard to find. Deets coming soon. But I hope some of you will bid on little ol' me.

*back from our commercial break* Okay, so I need to address the follow up question of--where the heck do I find crit partners? (Because you need them, you here? NEED them. Do not go submit your work without having beta readers WHO ARE NOT RELATED TO YOU, ARE NOT YOUR BEST FRIEND, AND ARE NOT SLEEPING WITH YOU give you feedback. Don't do it.)

In the past, I've referred people to message boards, I've done matchmaking here on the blog and on Twitter (rather successfully in fact. *waves at all the crit lovebirds*), but really my advice usually came down to "you have to network". Get to know people through writing groups, your blog, twitter, whatever.

But now there is a new option that I'm so excited about. Penguin has launched Book Country. This website is a new place for writers (and readers) to go to post parts of your work (only members can view it) and get feedback from other writers. It's social networking and critiquing all wrapped into one.

For any of you following Colleen Lindsey on Twitter, this is the Sekrit Projekt she was always talking about. I had the opportunity to see her speak about it a few months ago when she presented at the DFW Writer's Workshop, so I've been waiting with bated breath for the public launch so I could share the info with you guys.

I'm not going to go into how the site works (more info on that here), but the cool thing about it is this awesome genre map that lets you code your work on genre, heat level, and humor level. So people who are looking for what you write can easily find it. Also, it's a setup that forces give and take because you can't get crits until you give some. Love that.

And....it's free! Yay for that.

So go check it out. Maybe you'll find a crit partner match made in heaven. :) If nothing else, playing with the genre map alone is super entertaining.

So have you had trouble finding crit partners? If you have some where do you find yours? Anyone try Book Country yet? And if you're looking for a crit partner, feel free to put your genre and email address in a comment below--maybe this can act as some more matchmaking!