I want to thank Meredith Ireland for volunteering to put together a post on CP’s. She’s one of mine and she’s amazing.
First, thanks to Caitlin, one of my wonderful CPs, for letting me guest post on why you NEED them.
So, what’s a CP, anyhow?
It’s short for Critique Partner—a writer with whom you exchange ideas and edits, preferably for your entire career. Publishing can be brutal. You can roll solo, but why? You want a squad. I have five CPs. I think please don’t ever leave me, every day.
Note: this a mutual relationship. If you don’t want to put in the work on someone else’s words (and honestly, sometimes you don’t), hire a freelance editor. Message me if you need names—I know some great ones.
How do I choose a CP?
I don’t think a CP has to write in your exact genre/category but close is nice. What is important is for your CP to be at the same stage as you are. Be honest with yourself. If you’re brand new to the writing game you want someone new to grow with. If this is your third book, but you’ve had fulls out with agents, you want someone who also had close calls. And so on. If you go far away stage-wise you wind up mentoring—that’s no good. Mutual benefit is key.
A CP is there to provide you with honest feedback—it’s important that you are open to criticism. If you’re not there, that’s okay, but a CP isn’t for you. Level of coddling/sugar coating should also match. Know what you need ahead of time and what your strengths are editing-wise.
Okay, I’m in. How do I find these magical unicorns?
Well, that varies. For some it’s local writers groups, people they meet at conferences/workshops, or Facebook groups. For me, I found all of mine through Twitter. The Twitter writing community is second to none in my book (sorry for the pun, but eh… not that sorry). With all five of mine, a tweet of theirs sparked my interest and we built a dialogue that switched to DMs and then became writer friends. We discussed what we were working on and said—ooh that sounds like something I want to read. #Pitchwars, #DVPit, #1lineWed, #Pitmad, #MuseMon, all provide opportunities for you to say—hey, I liked this line/pitch, this sounds great, want to be buddies?
How to start
Go for 5 pages/first chapter to start. See if you’re a match. Feedback can be destructive when what you should’ve said is I don’t get this/it’s not my thing and it’s awful for 50 pages of something you’re not into to end up in your lap.
You want something you’re excited to work on, but also you want to see if their comments on yours are helpful or not. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work and that’s okay. You don’t have to buy every shoe you try on!
That’s it for my CP advice. Open, honest, mutual benefit. Thanks for reading! Please see my Twitter for something special J @meredithireland