The web is a great, big ocean in which you can find an amazing critique site or online workshop that fits your needs and gets you the feedback you need to grow as a writer and polish up your MS.
Getting a book ready for publication is not a solitary endeavor. Once your book is written and has been edited by you and some of your close buds, it's time to bring it to a table with strangers. The revision process should be a group effort. Many writers make the mistake of thinking that a spit and polish is good enough and the manuscript is ready to shop. Nope. I know it's soul-baring and scary to put your work out there for scrutiny, but if you're serious about having a writing career, you need to get a little uncomfortable and realize outside critique is your next step.
Here are some pitstops to consider.
If you write novels and are unpublished or self-published, you can post your novels and get critiqued for free at Authonomy, which is run by HarperCollins. The site brings writers, readers and publishers together in a community that celebrates and recognizes good writing. Editors read the most popular manuscripts each month in search of the best, undiscovered writers out there, so this is a good way to polish your work while getting your foot in the door at the same time. With the pickiness over first publication rights, I'm leery about posting at Authonomy. But I thought I'd through the option out there since many writers use it.
If you write YA, you can post to Inkpop, which is similar to Authonomy.
Some people have gotten a lot of followers and feedback for their work at Wattpad. I wouldn't post my whole work there, but that's just me.
I've belonged to TheNextBigWriter for almost three years, and I've been extremely happy with the feedback I've received. My work is sooo much stronger because of the awesome people who've taken the time to read my book. Even if I become a famous author, as long as publishers don't lock me in a closet, I'll still be in need of feedback, and hopefully I'll be allowed to get it here. TNBW has a yearly membership fee of $49.95.
FanStory is also a read and review site for poems, short stories, novels, other books and scripts that has a membership fee of $48 for a yearly subscription or $69 for two years. You can also use it to advertise books that are in print and sold on Amazon. It's worth the fee just for that and the frequent contests it runs, most offering $100 prizes. For instance, here are the two Valentine contests:
Write a poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word. Your love poem can be fictional or non-fictional. It can be humorous or a serious love poem. The choice is yours. $100 prize for the winner of this contest for poets.
Deadline: Feb. 14th
For our Valentines Story Writing Contest we are looking for stories that have Valentines Day playing a clear role in the storyline. Creative approaches welcomed. $100 prize for the winner of this writing contest.
Deadline: Feb. 14th
I signed up as a reviewer at FanStory to check out the lay of the land. So far, this site seems to be busier than TheNextBigWriter, as it claims over 4400 reviews have been received so far today, but I'll have to check out the quality of the feedback.
Some of the most popular free critique sites are the Share Your Work section at AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler, Writing Forums, Scribes, Christian Writers, Critters [for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror]. Critters looked pretty good and professional if you write in those genres.
I don't really think critique forums are a great place for posting entire works because of their disorganization, but if you're looking for feedback on your first few pages, first three chapters or a clumsy section, it could be very beneficial. The pay sites seem to attract more serious writers and readers, rather than just cheerleaders.
Many writers have a fear of their work being stolen when it's online. While that is somewhat valid, the possibility is way overblown. You have a much bigger threat of never being published, especially if you don't have a good product. If you're a writer who fears plagarsim, you'll have to balance the slim risk of theft versus the benefits of receiving the type of feedback that can help you make your work more marketable. For me, it's worth the risk. You can always stagger your work to so it's not all up at the same time.
When looking for an online writing community, look for these important characteristics to get the most out of your membership:
♦ Encouragement and tough love
♦ An excellent writer/reader perspective
♦ A good review exchange
♦ Privacy - only use a workshop on a password protected site, which keeps your First Publication Rights intact.
It's impossible to please every reader. Someone will have issue with your work, especially once it's published, that's reality, but with a well-written, finely polished product, at least you can say you put out your best.
~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.