HOW? How is it May already?!?
Y’all, this has been one busy frickin’ year. I had planned to start querying again in January and ramp up my ARC reading. Instead, I test drove and then joined a semi-pro critique group. The first six-week cycle was rough, but the second was even more labor-intensive because I had to do a bunch of catch-up reading on top of revising my MS and re-posting it for them to review. I just began my third six-week cycle and am glad to finally have some time to breathe.
It’s been an awesome experience, though. One of the pieces of advice that I’ve heard over and over is that you should always work with critique partners who are at approximately the same level as you. I’ve been searching for my next step up for a while, and have certainly found it! The best part is that they work in large sections and beta-reads rather than chapter-by-chapter, focusing on developmental edits instead of SPAG and line edits. I’ve learned so much since I started working with them in February.
To find a group like this of your own, I strongly suggest entering mentorship contests and attending conferences (IRL or online) to make connections beyond your current circles. I would never have known about the group I’m in if I hadn’t applied to PitchWars last fall. I’m sure there are tons more groups like it with members who are understandably protective of what they have. It takes a lot of work and trust to build a solid critique group. Letting new people in is always a gamble.
Sadly, since I decided to revise again, I’ve read very few published novels, much less ARCs. I’m also not querying as planned. However, publishing is pretty much a dumpster fire at the moment. Maybe by the time I’m ready to query in the fall, publishing will be somewhat caught up from the pandemic insanity and the dust will have settled a bit. And I’ll have a much tighter MS and a synopsis that (fingers crossed) doesn’t suck!