What Are Critique Partners and Where to Find Them

Ever heard of the term critique partners? You may hear this and the beta reader term be thrown around by writers but don’t know how to distinguish between the two. In this article, I’m going to point out differences between the two and give some tips to help you find a critique partner.

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What is a Critique Partner?

A critique partner is an individual who works directly with you, the author, and provides feedback and critique on your novel. This is usually done in exchange for you critiquing their work at the same time.

What is the difference between a Critique Partner and a Beta Reader?

A beta reader is a higher group of people who read the completed draft stage of your novel, then provide feedback on chapters but also the overall themes and tone of the book and then let you know of any inconsistencies within your work or anything they’d like to see more or less of. A critique partner is similar, although usually writers only have 3 - 6 critique partners instead of the 6+ beta readers one would usually have. Critique partners also are usually writers as they need to critique your work, plot, story from a more technical writer view, whereas beta readers are usually readers as they’re the type of people/market your book is made for. Lastly, usually, it’s best to send your critique partners your novel chapter by chapter, instead of all at once, after you’ve completed the first draft, and you’ll usually critique their work at the same time as well. Critique partners are also usually worked with before your book is sent to beta readers.

Where can I find a Critique Partner?

Unlike beta readers, critique partners should be writers or have an interest in writing themselves. Ideally, you should aim for 2-6 critique partners. You should never have to pay for a critique partner so be aware of any scams prompting you to do this. Here are some examples of where you can find a critique partner.

  • Local writing groups - The good thing about having a critique partner that lives locally to you, is that you can meet up with them and gain in-person feedback to better understand their critiques and build a better momentum of feedback. If your town has a local library, you can start by asking if they run any local writing groups there, or maybe your school has something they can set up? Alternatively, I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone locally by giving it a Google search!

  • Online writing groups - If you don’t want to use a critique partner who lives locally to you, you can find them online via writing groups which can be found through Google search, Eventbrite, social media groups and so on.

  • Social media - If you’ve been following along with my articles, you should know that I am a big fan of building your author platform as soon as possible, even before you’ve started writing the book! This means, that you should have started to build social media connections with other writers, particularly those in your genre. Reach out to these individuals and ask if they’d like to be your critique partner, in return for you being there’s!

  • Author events - What better way to find authors and writers alike than attending author events. Chances are, those who attend these events are also authors or clearly have an interest in writing.

  • Your mailing list - If you’ve started building a mailing list, you could send an email to see if there are any writers who have subscribed who are clearly interested in your work. Or, you could ask your mailing list subscribers to aid you in your search by forwarding your email to anyone who they know might be interested.

How to approach Beta Readers?

Now that you know who should be your critique partner, it's time to reach out and ask if they want to be one of yours! Ideally, you want to have already formed a bond, or at least spoken to, this person before as you want to know that you can trust that their opinion is honest and that they will provide feedback that you know will be the most beneficial. An example message you can send to someone would be;

Hey! You may know that I recently finished the first draft of my (genre) novel. I see that you are also a (genre) writer and I was wondering if you were also at a stage where you would be looking for a critique partner? If so, I'd love to be considered and vice versa. I suggest we send each other a chapter at a time, we then provide feedback and make any changes before sending the next chapter and so on. Let me know if this is something that would interest you! Many thanks!

Don't forget, usually when searching for a critique partner you'll also be asked to be theirs, so make sure you ask them if they're in this stage. You also want to target those who write in a similar genre to you, as they'll provide feedback that most suits your genre and provides another perspective from a writers point of view.

Critique Partner etiquette

The first thing you should do is ask for their email address which is how you'll be communicating with them and sending over your chapters for them to review and vice versa.

Then, you should prepare a contract. You might think that this step is a little OTT, but I've actually known someone who has had their work stolen by another writer after sending them their manuscript! Your book is your baby, so you don't want to take any risks. Plus, when you send them a contract, you're letting them know that you're taking this very seriously and that they should be as well. You should never leave it to chance to allow someone to copy your manuscript and, until your book is published, it is quite easy for someone to copy your work, publish it and call it their own. If this were to happen, you would have a legal document that you can provide in court, if you were to take things further, for example.

I've created a downloadable, editable contract that you can use to send to your critique partners, for your convenience. Click here to find it. Once the contracts have been signed and returned, you can then send your first chapter over to them.

What feedback should I gather?

It is wise to prepare a questionnaire to ensure you're gathering information that you will find useful when editing or re-writing scenes. I've also created a downloadable, editable Critique Partner Questionnaire that you can use. Click here to find it.