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Welcome to the AQ Connect Community Library -- reference articles about the publishing industry for and by its AQ Connect members.
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Online Critique Websites: Honing Your Manuscript Through Feedback

Now that AQC has moved, some of the members might miss having a place to get feedback on WIPs.

No need to despair on that account - there are plenty of websites where folks are downright eager to give feedback on all levels of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc. Below is a list of the more visible of them - most (if not all) are open to anyone, for free (some have higher-tier levels of resources for a price), and some have more teaching and reference resources than others. Most do offer the opportunity to post your work and receive feedback, although you cannot, under any circumstances, expect to sign up, post your first three chapters at lunch time, and expect to sit down at dinnertime with a list of reviews to study.

Member-driven community websites all operate on the same natural principle - the more you participate, the more response you'll receive. Each site has its own gestalt, and you will quickly determine if the atmosphere is compatible with your style and needs. Check them all out. Look around the forums in particular - observe the dynamics. Review the profiles of the members posting frequently. Are they writing in your genre? Born in the same decade? Flame throwing or olive picking?

One thing you must be prepared for under any circumstances. You must have thick skin, and you must be prepared for harsh criticism. This isn't about you, it's about your work. Even the most obnoxious reviewer's commentary has something of value in it - even if it's simply to add a new expletive to your vocabulary.

So here's a non-exclusive list to check out - in alphabetical order only. Please note that some of them are more active than others. And I'm sure to have missed a few - so if you're aware of something we've missed, mention it.

And please feel free to report back on the experiences you've had - it might assist others in their search.

Authonomy is Harper Collins’ community website which purports to be a writer’s opportunity to “beat the slush.” It is the only community where your work becomes eligible for review by a Harper Collins “editor,” although getting to the Editor’s Desk to earn it takes an enormous commitment of time and effort. There is opportunity to have your material critiqued, and the forums can be entertaining. (There are several Authonomy alumni who are regular contributors here - they may be under cover, however).

Literary Zone has no review/criticism function per se, but it contains a library of resources for beginning and developing fiction writers.

Litopia Writers Colony (“run by writers for writers”) has more than a little something for everybody, including a tiered system of reviewing that works from rough draft to final polish.

Redroom (“where the writers are”) has a little something for everybody also. A heavy emphasis on social conscience here. You’re always being asked to blog about something.

The Next Big Writer offers “guaranteed feedback on your writing,” contests, resources and community forums.

You Write On is a website designed to facilitate critiquing specifically. You earn a critique of your own work by earning credits critiquing others. Novels that have risen to the top of the chart at YWO have been published by Random House and Orion Press.

Webook might be best known around here as the home of the "Page to Fame" contest, where readers rate the first page of your manuscript, and the top rated work goes to a next level and so on. It also as a site-dedicated agent submission tool called "Agent In-box" and a venue for posting and receiving feedback on your writing.

Writers Cafe is “an online writing community where writers can post their work, get reviews, befriend other writers, and much more…” It appears to be heavy on poetry, and there does appear to be much reviewing going on.

Writers Community calls itself a “Community for Writers About Writing, Critiquing, Editing, and Developing as a Writer.” It appears to have a significant emphasis on developing and improving. It is partially funded through Amazon.com. Appears to have become moribund.

Writing has a lot of members and fun contests to help hone your skills. It even has a “Great Newbie Review” to welcome new members. It also has a dedicated site for uploading your writing portfolio (inkspot.com).

Writopolis is a community devoted to creating “collaborative” fiction.

Zeotrope is the brain child of film director Francis Ford Coppola. It is a community of serious screenplay and fiction writers. It is not for beginners. Honed talent and thick skin are essential for enjoyment. A serious crowd awaits.

Now go out there and get some feedback!


J. Lea Lopez
Sep 13 2010 11:27 PM
Excellent, Pete! I hadn't heard of several of these until now. I may take a peek at a few.... because I don't waste enough time online already.... :tongue:
I'm afraid to check them out. I do think the most promising form a professional standpoint is the Zeotrope site.
Fantastic list, Pete!

Rick Pieters
Sep 15 2010 09:38 AM
Thanks for creating this great resource. Good intro comments, too.
http://www.reviewfuse.com/ is another critique forum.
Regina Harris
Sep 16 2010 04:21 PM
I've also run across one for the sci-fi, fantasy genre called Critters Writers Workshop (http://www.critters.org). Don't know anything about it except what's in their FAQs page.
Great list, Pete.

For what it's worth, I used to participate in Writers' Cafe several years ago. I don't know what it's like now, but it had a problem in which somehow nearly every post was deleted, which caused some turmoil among its members. It may explain why it's more geared toward poetry now (though there was a lot of it then, too).

I discovered AQ right around the time of the Writers' Cafe snafu, and I found this community to be much more helpful.

I've also run across one for the sci-fi, fantasy genre called Critters Writers Workshop (http://www.critters.org). Don't know anything about it except what's in their FAQs page.

I did that one for awhile. It's great. My only issue is that I could not keep up with my end of the bargain. In order to get critique you have to critique a certain amount every week. I couldn't find the time, but the input I did get when I was able too, was very well thought out and helped me out greatly.
I tried critters for a while, but realized my work was never going to be critted, the wait is long. You Write On is best, you do your work, you get paid (reviewed in return), and can post a few chapters at a time. It is strictly fiction. The writers there are serious and most are perceptive about flaws and bravos in mss. There's The Internet Writers Workshop, also very good, with several categories, from Novels, Non Fiction, short stories and more. Many writers are on both IWW and YWO.
ooooh, my! such a thing which I'm looking for! Writer's Cafe might help me here. I could get some feedback with some attempt at short story writing. I go to a writer's group that helps me out fine. Still, I need to get honed enough to get them banging on my door into publishing fame. :biggrin:
Matera the Mad
Nov 29 2010 11:55 AM
I've visited many of them, even got my toes wet a few times to further satisfy my curiosity. Got the hell out fast sometimes. My impression of most is "where the sheep hang out". Fine if you like round holes; but for me, suffocating in the long run. The only site that has done me any good wasn't mentioned.

IMO those who can make progress will, any way they can, and joining slush communities won't help those who can't. *shrug*
Let us not forget the 'Share Your Work' areas of Absolutewrite. The threads there are sectioned up by genre and there is a separate area for query letters