When you’re rewriting your manuscript and figuring out how to make your second draft even better than your first, sometimes it’s not enough to work on your own.
As a writer, it’s hard to read your own story with an impartial, critical eye.
This is where a critique partner or online writing group can be invaluable in helping you hone your skills and improve your writing. Good critique partners can help by:
- Giving you a valuable outside perspective. When you’re too close to your own work, or mired in self-doubt, a critique partner can offer both suggestions and reassurances.
- Providing accountability. It’s easier to blow off an internally imposed deadline than it is to disappoint someone who is expecting to review your pages on a certain date!
- Offering support. Great critique partners believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself.
- Acting as a practice run. At some point, you’re either going to submit your work to editors and agents, or you’ll self-publish. Both routes take an enormous amount of courage. Being willing to receive criticism helps build up your confidence and courage, and teaches you how to release your work into the wild.
But how do you find a critique partner or join a writing group?
Connecting with other writers to form a critique group sounds harder than it really is.
Here’s a list of 40 resources to help you find a critique partner
Online writing critique groups
These are websites and private writing groups dedicated to helping you find critique partners or learn about writing. They target a wide array of authors, though some focus on specific genres or styles.
Some of these sites involve a paid membership, although many are free. Also, many require that you critique in order to receive critiques, to keep a fair balance of work given versus help received.
Absolute Write is one of the web’s most active writing forums. Check the discussion board “Beta Readers, Mentors, and Writing Buddies” (but acquaint yourself with other boards first).
This community is especially great for writers interested in traditional publishing. You’ll find tons of information about querying, pitching and finding a literary agent. Plus, the forum allows you to connect with other writers in the community. There’s also a “Query Letter and Hook Corner ” section where people advertise for critique partners.
This group is initially a bit complex. You earn “credits” for critiquing other people’s work, that you can apply towards getting your own work critiqued. This system is great for people who have been burned in other groups, doing the brunt of the commenting and getting no feedback. Many people have met partners through Critique Circle.
This community started as the “Critters” group for science fiction and fantasy writers, but they are expanding into “all genres of writing” — literary and mainstream, mysteries, thrillers, romance, children’s, and even screenplays and nonfiction writing.
They have over 15,000 members and have given over 300,000 critiques since 1995.
This is an interactive, email-based writing workshop. Its administrators encourage accountability and require a set number of critiques per month, per member. Admission is based on a writing sample.
Launched in 2005, this site “combines a dynamic community of thousands of writers with cutting-edge tools, contests, classes, and communication to help members achieve their writing goals.” You’ll be able to give and receive feedback, learn from other writers, attend workshops and more.
Cost: $69.95 per year
7. Inked Voices
These cloud-based critique groups are typically limited to four to eight writers in a genre. All groups are private and invitation only.
To join an existing group, go to “Groups” and search by genre, organization or any other keyword you think would be relevant. You can then look at group profiles and, if you find one you’re interested in, send a note to the group facilitator asking to join.
Cost: $85 per year
This straightforward Google forum/bulletin board for writers of all genres provides opportunities to network, or advertise a need, for critique partners.
This group prides itself on providing a supportive and resourceful community for fiction writers of all genres. This is a great place for writers to “connect with each other, get help and feedback, share writing related content, critique each other’s work, and participate in fun writing prompts and events aimed at sharpening their skills.”
This group is all about the craft of writing, and it gives members the opportunity to network with and learn from other writers. Everyone is encouraged to submit their work for group critiques and engage in local discussions.
Nathan Bransford, famed agent-turned-writer with an active social media community, runs a board dedicated to finding a critique partner.
12. Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
This genre-specific group guarantees that “writers improve here through the reviews and ratings given their works by other writers, and through reviewing the work of others.” The site also a scholarship fund, monthly newsletters and writing workshops.
Cost: $49 per year, but your first month is free
13. Quantum Muse
This online magazine accepts sci-fi, fantasy and alternative pieces up to 8,000 words. Since all submissions are peer reviewed, you’ll receive feedback on your work from the community. You aren’t allowed to submit until you’ve earned credits by critiquing, except for flash fiction pieces of 1,000 words or less.
14. Romance Critters
This private Yahoo! group supports writers actively and seriously pursuing a career in romance writing. New members must complete two critiques before submitting their own work, and 10 critiques before being eligible to ask for a beta read.
Cost: Free, but you’ll need to apply and be approved
Similar to Critique Circle, you earn “karma points” by critiquing others’ work, which you need to earn before you can post your work and get critiques of your own writing. The site also features writing workshops and resources.
Cost: Free, or $65 per year for Scribophile Premium
This active writing group for writers wants to “help others achieve their dreams” within the evolving landscape of publishing. It offers writing resources and tips, periodic open critiques, giveaways and support from the Seekerville community.
This writing critique group is for “connecting authors together who want to critique or beta read for each other.” There are no entry requirements, so once admitted into the group, get ready to give and receive feedback for work of all genres.
A networking and support group based on Facebook that specializes in helping writers and illustrators submit their work. If you need help with query letters and pitches, this is a great option.
19. Swirl and Swing
This private, poetry-focused critique group is open to new members, though they try to maintain a “small and intimate” atmosphere. Two poetry samples required.
Originally founded in 1994 by the editors of Writer’s Digest magazine, this established critique group is especially open to literary fiction writers and holds live online chat meetings. To become a “full member,” each new prospect needs to attend a few live chats and submit at least two critiques prior to submitting work.
This networking group offers a critique partners document — search it for potential partners, and add your name and details so others can contact you. Currently at 5,000 members, it’s a very open, sharing and convivial group.
No self-promotion is allowed, and members maintain a strict focus on writing. I’ve been a member of the WU community for years, and have found beta readers and developed strong friendships as a result. When you’re ready to join, send an email to the Writer Unboxed Mod Squad at ModSquad@WriterUnboxed.com and you’ll be welcomed into the group.
When you join Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den, you get access to nearly two dozen courses (called “bootcamps”) that cover all aspects of building a freelance writing business, including how to find clients.
The Den also offers helpful forums for writers to connect. Unlike even the most active real-life writers’ group, the Den’s forums are open for your musings 24/7, and they’re organized into helpful and relevant categories, including an active peer review forum.
Here’s our full Freelance Writers Den review. Enrollment opens a few times each year.
Disclosure: The Freelance Writers Den is a partner of The Write Life. We hold our advertisers to high standards and vetted this critique site just like the others on this list.
These professional groups support writers and often focus on specific genres. They’re great places to find industry information and publishing advice, as well as writing-specific instruction.
Check out local chapter meetings, or participate in online member forums if possible. Getting to know people is the easiest way to find readers you’ll be comfortable with, who may be open to critique swapping. Note: most of these organizations have a fee-based membership.
23. Florida Writers Association (FWA)
With over 1,300 members and more than 50 local writers groups, this growing organization is dedicated to supporting authors and aspiring writers in the Sunshine State.
Besides having access to critique groups and partners near you, a membership with FWA also grants you discounts to conferences and other events, reduced advertising rates in The Florida Writer magazine, access to editorial services and more.
Cost: $59 per year
Their mission is “to empower Christian novelists by inspiring them to join with God in the creative process, training them in the craft, and educating them in the publishing industry.” The organization’s membership offers critique groups, access to private Facebook groups, exclusive online writing courses, members-only discounts and more.
Cost: The first year’s membership costs $75, and subsequent renewals are $49
An “international community of men and women interested in the provocative world of erotica and sensual pleasures,” this organization offers extensive author resources including market news, calls for submissions, a private email discussion list and a forum.
Founded in the U.K. in 1997, this international society runs competitions to discover new authors, holds conferences and reviews many historical novels in The Historical Novels Review. It also maintains Facebook groups and pages , and holds “writing, editing and social events.”
Cost: $50 per year
This nonprofit worldwide organization of writers and publishing professionals is “dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it.” They sponsor the yearly Bram Stoker Awards for excellence in horror and dark literature. There are regional chapters as well as a mentoring program. Unpublished writers can join at an affiliate level.
Cost: Individual membership is $75 per year
A network “committed to empowering women writers with innovative and diverse professional resources, mentoring, and support,” the guild holds conferences and regional events, runs a members-only Facebook page and offers members-only discounts.
Cost: $75 per year
This organization is “dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre.” Based in the United States, it has 11 regional chapters, which all produce a newsletter and most hold regular meetings where you can interact with other members. Among other benefits, they also offer a national manuscript critique program, organize symposia and conferences and present the yearly Edgar awards.
Cost: $115 per year
30. National Association of Memoir Writers
They teach “the skills to write a memoir that weaves craft and truth” and have a wide range of member benefits. They also offer monthly “Group Laser Coaching” with Linda Joy Myers to help with memoir writing process, and have a members-only Facebook group.
Cost: $149 per year
This group is regional, rather than based on genre, and is focused on supporting writers by providing “accessibility to the publishing industry, and participation in an interactive, writer community.” It offers free advertising/promotion through PNWA’s site and email, member meetings, networking opportunities, access to critique groups and a very active community of members. Plus, members receive discounts to PNWA conferences, workshops, contests and other events.
Cost: $65 per year
This friendly and helpful group is dedicated to advancing the “professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy and by increasing public awareness of the romance genre.” They have chapters all over the United States, including several specialized online chapters dedicated to specific sub-genres. Local chapter meetings are often monthly, featuring informative speakers.
Cost: $99 per year, plus a $25 processing fee for new and reinstating members
33. Sisters in Crime
This organization formed in response to the growing use of graphic sadism against women in mysteries, as well as the lack of women authors being nominated for awards or reviewed in the same percentage as men. The group offers mentoring, support and educational and networking opportunities, as well as 50+ chapters worldwide.
Cost: $40 per year for an Active membership, $50 per year for a Professional membership
This group provides “information, resources and opportunities for everyone involved in or interested in publishing.” It offers an email discussion group, market updates, audio recordings, members-only discounts on various events and more.
Cost: $75 for the first year, $65 per subsequent year
This is one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators, focusing specifically on “writing and illustrating for children and young adults” in not only novels, but magazines, film, television and multimedia.
There are regional chapters and an online community. They also offer awards and grants as well as programs and events.
Cost: $95 for the first year, $80 per subsequent year
Founded to promote “the literature of the American West,” this group has a yearly convention and distributes the yearly Spur Awards for distinguished writing in the Western field. It also has a Facebook page where networking may be possible, as well as a directory of over 650 members.
Cost: $75 per year
Social media platforms
Keep it simple by finding like-minded writers in places you already hang out. If you’ve already connected with other authors on your social channels, just put out a request, saying, “I’m looking for people interested in swapping critiques! I write (genre). Anyone interested?”
If you haven’t built up a network, here are several places to look:
This social platform lets authors share stories with millions of readers for free. Many authors publish to get feedback or gauge traction for titles, or offer the first few chapters of a longer work as a teaser.
To find potential partners, search for people by querying “critique groups” or “looking for critique partner.”
While it’s known mostly for its reviews and genre-specific discussion groups, plenty of writers use Goodreads to connect with other authors. Search for “[your genre] + writers” or “critique groups.”
39. Facebook Groups
Facebook has myriad private and public groups of authors. Search for “[your genre] + writers” or “critique groups,” or try one of these Facebook groups for writers.
Interested in a local, face-to-face group? Meetup is a social networking site that connects people in real life, based on common interests. Type in “critique group” or “writing group” to find groups within a set radius of your location.
Finding a critique partner that “fits” can take time
It’s a bit like dating: you may find that there are some critique partners who are wonderful people, they’re just not right for you.
You may need to try several different critique partners to find people who fit with you and your writing. Be honest if something isn’t working for you, and don’t take it personally if it doesn’t work for your partner.
You may also work with different critique partners to seek feedback on different aspects of your writing. For example, perhaps one partner specializes in plot and pacing, while another helps you focus on dialogue or characterization. Mix, match and be open minded.
Many writers in these groups and organizations are keen to connect with other authors. Hang out, read other people’s responses, and start asking questions of your own.
Most of all — have fun! Writers are a wonderful community and you’ll be glad you connected.
Are you looking for a critique partner or beta reader? Start here! Include your genre or focus in the comments, and perhaps you’ll connect with a new critique partner!
This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.
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