I recently posted my “How I got my agent” story, with all the gritty details. Soon after it went live, I got a few messages from lovely writers, and one of them asked if I was planning to do a post on where I found my CPs. I thought it was a brilliant idea, so here it is.
CPs, particularly great ones, are very hard to come by. There are lots of writers out there looking to connect, but the trouble comes in actually finding them. Then, once found, you have to see if you’re going to be the right FIT! For me, the search took many years—about seven in fact, with A LOT of failed attempts along the way—but, I’ve been very fortunate to find some truly wonderful writers. Here’s where I found them.
I discovered my first ever CP years ago when I had no clue how one actually went about finding such writers. So, I resorted to trusty old Google. This pointed me in the direction of Ladies Who Critique—which incidentally is not just ladies. I, uh, stalked a few profiles until I found someone who seemed like my kind of person. *Note, I did get propositioned by someone on this site who clearly did not understand what critique means, so watch out for those oddballs.
It took several more years before I found my next true CP, again with lots of failed attempts thrown into the mix. It wasn’t until late 2016 that I stumbled upon author Wendy Heard’s CP Match-up programme. Wendy’s matches are awesome! She matches writers based on category and genre, number of years spent writing, and a couple other preferences. Several months later, Wendy matched me up with another amazing writer, and we ended up in Pitch Wars together. I highly recommend signing up for her matches.
Early 2017, I found two CPs around the same time during a Twitter contest. These kinds of matches may not be as easy if, like me, you’re an extremely shy introvert. But they are so, so worthwhile. Following hashtags and connecting with other writers in those contest “trenches” has become a very popular way to find CPs. I found mine during the #RevPit contest, but there are loads of general hashtags.
Here are a few to look into:
- #CPMatch – hey, look, a tag especially for those writers looking to find CPs!
- #ontheporch – this was created by two authors, and it’s aimed at those who are figuratively “on the porch”, either waiting for a new contest, or queries, or just generally hanging out with other writers.
- #MockPit – I’ve seen this one around lately, and it’s there for people to post their pitches for Twitter contests so other writers can offer feedback, but it’s NOT an actual contest.
- #QuerySwap – created by The Manuscript Shredder, this is a bi-annual event where writers help each other out with their queries.
- #amwriting // #amquerying // #amrevising – these are common enough in the writer community.
- #PitchWars // #PitMad // #DVpit // #QueryKombat // #SunvsSnow – contests like these are gems for finding CPs, so connect with writers while you’re entering. Don’t be shy—writers generally don’t bite unless provoked.
Thanks to Pitch Wars, I’ve met a few more amazing writers that are morphing into CPs even as I type this. I know that only helps you if you make into Pitch Wars, but there are several of the mentees who found each other in the “trenches” before we were all picked. That said, if you do make it into Pitch Wars, connect with your fellow mentees!
I asked around in our group to see where they all found their CPs, and here’s a quick list of their tried-and-tested methods:
- WriteOnCon (An Online Kidlit Conference).
- Big Sur Writing Conference.
- SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers) had a monthly email group where writers could join and connect.
- Lit Reactor classes.
- MWA (Mystery Writers of America).
- RWA (Romance Writers of America). They do match-ups, but you can also find CPs in the forums and during contest. I also have it on very good authority that if you send thank you notes, sometimes co-ordinators/judges will offer their services.
- Local writing classes and conferences—there are lots more than the specific ones mentioned above.
- Like Wendy Heard, author Maggie Stiefvater does CP matches, but I believe it’s a little different. She’ll usually do a blog post, and writers find their perfect matches through there.
- Goodreads—there are threads in the discussions/forums where you can find matches.
- Libraries! One mentee works at a library and formed a critique group.
- Twitter. Twitter. Twitter… as stated above, this really is the popular option!
Remember, every writer is different and looking for a different kind of critique / feedback. When you first connect with a potential new CP, make sure to be very clear about what exactly you are both looking for.