It’s part two of my series on critiquing: critique partner etiquette. You can view part one here.

Okay, so you’ve found your CP. You posted in all the right places, brainstormed all the right people… But how are you supposed to talk to these potential CPs/writing buddies/friends on the twisting path to publishing?

First you need to reach out to these people. Sure, it might seem like a given, but to some of us, this is an intimidating step. You’re offering up your heart and soul, and this stranger might step on it, right? Don’t be so worried. Most aspiring writers searching for CPs want the same thing as you: a friend to help make their story better. Sure, not everyone will be a perfect fit, but this person probably isn’t going to be a jerk or attempt to steal your ideas.

So it’s time to send your potential CPs an email. Here are a few important topics to cover:

  • What’s your book about? Give a quick summary.
  • What’s the word count/genre/demographic (YA, MG, etc.)?
  • What kind of CP are you looking for? An alpha reader—someone who reads as you write—or a beta reader—someone who reads a full draft?
  • What stage is your story at? Are you still nursing the idea, or is it a full-fledged, many-times-revised manuscript?

I’ve also found it’s not bad to give a little information about you. I like to list some of my favorite books and TV shows so the potential CP can get a feel for my tastes.

If your potential CP responds and is interested, it’s time to exchange a sample of work to see if you’re a good match! Try sending off the first chapter or two, and ask them to do the same. If you feel like your writing styles gel (and DO NOT feel bad if they don’t—there’s no harm in telling the potential CP you two aren’t a good fit) and you want to become CPs, you’ll need to exchange a little more information.

  • What exactly are you looking for? Line-edits? Is your plot all over the place? Tell your CP what you need from them.
  • What kind of format do you want to edit in? Will you use track changes (available on both MS Word and Pages) for line-edits, or just type up a list of general comments?
  • What’s your time frame? This is super important. I always find this to be a pretty intimidating step, because I’m usually chomping at the bit to get feedback. I write—and edit—in something of a flurry, so I can generally get a manuscript read quickly. Some people don’t have as much time to dedicate to editing someone else’s work. This is a big favor you’re asking of each other, and you want to be sure both stories get the time and care they deserve.

Now it’s time to exchange manuscripts!

I’m going to post part three of my critique series next week—how to write a critique—but until then, I hope this helps any of you who are still trying to connect with CPs.

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