Just wanted to give everyone a quick update on the critique group list!
As of yesterday the Google spreadsheets are up-to-date in listing both current groups and members actively looking for groups. If you’ve sent a request and haven’t heard back from me that you were added to the spreadsheet, or are awaiting an answer from an email you’ve sent, please let me know at shelley (at) shelleykoon (dot) com (please replace the (at) with @ and (dot) with a period!)
Right after conferences my email becomes extremely backed up and as much as I hate it, I can miss things. In addition I recently migrated to a new computer and while I think I managed to migrate everything over to the new machine, I never assume that I’ve managed to capture everything. Thank you all for your patience!
I do want to mention that I’ve been getting quite a few “have you found me a group yet?” emails and/or emails asking if I know of members in <insert town and state here> looking for a group. While it’s certainly fine to send such an email, you’re always going to get the same answer from me which is, “Please check the spreadsheets for groups or members in the area you are inquiring about and contact those groups/members directly.” When it comes to “coordinating” the critique groups for the region, I am simply the keeper of information which will give you a starting point to locate or start a group that works for you.
So what do you do if you have checked the spreadsheet and have yet to find anything? Here are five options/ideas to help you out:
1.) Start a group. If your goal is a career in writing, being in a critique group is going to be a very important aspect of your job. Thus sitting back and waiting until a group forms is counterproductive to your goal. When I started my first critique group it was done at an SCBWI gathering and while a number of members had signed up on the sheet to indicate they wanted to join a critique group, no one was steeping forward to say “I’ll start this”. I’d never run a group before but I knew having one was important so I stepped up. You can too! Need help? I’m always here to talk you through the steps (and off the ledges!).
2.) Expand your options. Looking strictly for a large group? Why not look for one critique partner to start with? Demanding face-to-face? Consider Skype or Google Hangouts. Bottom line – be flexible and consider all critique group options to get yourself started.
3.) Don’t be afraid to look for local all genre groups. The first critique group I joined was an all genre (in this usage meaning both adult and children’s writers) group. While all genre groups may have bigger challenges with picture books due to the writing/art balance that some writers may not have experience with, novels tend to follow very similar structures in all genres. I found my all genre group’s comments to be just as valid as the comments from my children’s writer group. To find local groups, start with your local libraries and arts council/guild.
4.) Visit the MD/DE/WV Region Critique Group spreadsheet often! The spreadsheet has grown from around 30ish members when I began it a little over a year ago to over 175 members currently! There are big jumps in numbers after conferences but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new people being added in between so be sure you check in often!
5.) Attend SCBWI events and conferences. There is always something going on within SCBWI on this coast! Be it with the MD/DE/WV region or those nearby, you can get out and meet other SCBWI members and find critique partners. Never be afraid to mention you’re looking for a group when meeting fellow writers, you never know which of them may be looking for the same thing.
Lastly I’d like to add that if you would like to be added to the spreadsheet please fill out the form located on the regional site.
If you are a current registered member, please make sure the info I have for you and /or your groups is correct!
Now – go out there and find a group!