Critique Groups

The Austin Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has a Critique Coordinator who maintains a list of writers and illustrators looking for critique groups. You must be an active SCBWI member to use our Critique Coordinator service.

Writers: To be placed on the children’s book writer’s critique group list, please fill out the Writer’s Critique Group Questionnaire.

Illustrators: To be placed on the children’s book illustration critique list, please fill out the Illustrator Critique Group Questionnaire.

Active Open Critique Groups

Writer’s Group: Meetings on the mornings of SCBWI general meetings at BookPeople, from 11:00-Noon. Bring ten copies of up to five double-spaced pages to share.

Illustrator’s Group: Meetings on the mornings of SCBWI general meetings at BookPeople, from 11:00-Noon Bring samples of your work to show.

The Inklings: The Inklings is an illustration and picture book group that meets on the second Sunday of the month. Visit the Inklings Blog for more information.

Starting or Joining a Critique Group

One of the best ways to meet people interested in a manuscript critique group is to join our Writers’ Group or Illustrator’s Group that meet prior to our Saturday monthly meetings (see below for details). Even if Saturday mornings aren’t your preferred time to do critiques, you’ll meet like-minded folks who are actively working and seeking feedback on their work. You’ll get to know them in this casual format, see what they’re working on and how they approach critiques. You may meet someone from your part of town whose time needs mesh with yours.

Remember, it only takes two to start a critique group. Three to five members is a good start. Set a definite time and place to meet. Make multiple copies of your work. It is also recommended that you do not read your own work at critique meetings. Hear it from a different perspective. Most important is the rapport and chemistry between members. Get to know each other by respecting each point of view; then decide if the partnership is working.

You can download the Austin SCBWI Critique Group Guidelines here, they’re invaluable for getting started.

Here are some links you may find useful:

Taking it Online

For those who find it difficult to find a group that meets within a reasonable distance to your home, consider an online critique group. Though less personal, you still get to meet with like-minded people and share in the feedback and support we all need. For these sorts of conference call, you’ll at minimum need a microphone and speakers (often built into the computer already). You can improve the experience if you have a webcam and use the proper software.

Skype allows for voice conferencing amongst a critique group, so you could email your critique material prior to a scheduled meeting and then discuss each other’s work during the call. You can still get the benefit of hearing someone else read your work aloud and then having a discussion about the material with a group. Skype is free for computer-to-computer communication. Illustrator’s could also use voice chat if everyone has been emailed a copy of the work to be discussed in advance. Skype does not allow video chatting or screen sharing (to show artwork) in group calls, only for person-to-person calls.

For those wishing to video chat and screen share with up to four people, iChat is great. However, iChat is a Mac only application. It’s free, and comes pre-installed on your Mac.