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What is your experience with Critique Groups? (1 Viewer)

Llyralen

Senior Member
What kind of mechanical psychotic weirdo would publish something and not read the reviews? My God. I'm in a facebook group about one of my works, which was started in 2008, and for the last 13 years I've read every single word.
Lol! And you haven’t gone crazy?

I’m no where near having to choose yet, but I had always planned to take the advice to not read the reviews. It sounds like you interact with your reviewers? Is that right?
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
As long as the genre is not horror.
This statement makes a good point that HAS to be brought up when we are talking about critiquing other people’s work: Not all critique is correct and when is it the right decision to ignore critique?

I heard from someone that the best critique groups are usually genre focused.

Bring me a soapbox. :)
If I dislike a genre and never read that genre should I attempt to critique someone’s MS in that genre? Probably not… be careful anyway.

Half the criticism might just be criticizing the genre. Me and horror would go something like “I think this is too violent. You know there are no such things as ghosts, right? This kind of wound probably wouldn’t bleed to that extent… if so then this person would die in the hour probably.” Yes, that level of terrible critique for that specific genre…

Furthur, if it is a style difference and the person critiquing doesn’t have a very liberal mind for style differences? Disaster. “You can’t have a chapter that just says ‘February’”. “This is too flowery…readers like a spare style..”. “This is too spare…make it prettier.” “There is too much emotion in this.” “There is too little emotion”. If someone thinks there is a certain model of “should” for all that that they can actually criticize someone about then this is a disaster. This could be just someone’s sense of superiority squashing innovation and creativity.

Maybe it helps to think of music genres you dislike, how would you know what the latest and greatest rap song is if you’ve never listened to rap and don’t like it. The only country songs I like dont sound much like country. Wouldn’t all my feedback for country singers be “Don’t sound so country.” You need to know your own limitations in taste and know that your own taste doesn’t represent everybody’s taste.

Unless I had a generic critique page to use (I think that would help), my personal mantra is: “If I don’t like this writing, other than obvious mistakes or plot holes, I should not be the one to critique it in depth.” Different people like different things.

The more I like and understand someone’s style and the more experience I have reading that genre the more in-depth critique I can give.

Not that we should hold back when we see some obvious things that would help out… but I would say you hold the nitty-gritty for the stuff you have experience with and respect for the author. Aren’t the best experiences when you can have working relationships with peers? And common sympathy for the difficulties and the goals of a genre?

We do want to hear from the common reader, but knowing one person’s opinion is just their opinion is important.
 

Non Serviam

WF Veterans
It sounds like you interact with your reviewers? Is that right?

Oh, no. I don't respond to my reviewers. I just read.

I'm in that facebook group pseudonymously. Nobody knows it's me, except one of the group admins who guessed and then agreed to be sworn to secrecy.

At first I used to preen and bask in the glow of the positive stuff, and wail and gnash my teeth at the negative stuff. Thirteen years later I don't do that quite so much, but I still read every word.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Oh, no. I don't respond to my reviewers. I just read.

I'm in that facebook group pseudonymously. Nobody knows it's me, except one of the group admins who guessed and then agreed to be sworn to secrecy.

At first I used to preen and bask in the glow of the positive stuff, and wail and gnash my teeth at the negative stuff. Thirteen years later I don't do that quite so much, but I still read every word.
I know I’d be tempted. I think it would be so interesting if I could handle it well. If I thought “This is a group of people who were affected enough by something I wrote to come here.” If I felt like I got to know them a little? Hear what they want from life and from books? There has got to be something enchanting in that. Even if I disappointed. It might make me work harder? Make what I do more meaningful to really know it really will be read? I don’t know. I would love to hear what it’s like for you.
 

Non Serviam

WF Veterans
I would love to hear what it’s like for you.
Well, it's hard to say this modestly, but luckily I'm not a modest man. It's awesome.

Firstly there's the basic fact that someone I don't know set up a Facebook page for fans of that book; and there's the fact that people I don't know still join and comment. What's that like? Unbelievably flattering. Wow. There are a couple hundred people in that group, only one of whom is me.

It's a non-fiction book, priced at US$26.00. It sold about 1,000 copies on Lulu and then a traditional publisher approached my with a request to do a print run on an offset printer. It's now on its third printing, so I'll go ahead and say there are probably 16,000 copies in circulation. 200-ish of them is a good proportion and of course, if they've found the Facebook page, they're probably excited to talk about it... so I get the fan view, not the general reader view. It's very validating and it saves me from accidentally becoming modest.

I think it would be very difficult to achieve a similar reaction and profit margin with a fiction novel priced at $10 or $12, but people do do it.
 
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