Linda Strawn, the author of Singing Winds (July 2007) is a fan of critique groups. For more information about Linda or to order her book stop by http://www.lindastrawn.com/
When countless hours are poured into creating a story, not to mention the immeasurable amount of thought, emotion, and even prayer that is invested, it’s nearly impossible to put a price on it.
After a story takes shape, and a writer has an emotional attachment, a manuscript is often referred to as their "baby". It takes a lot of courage to let their baby leave the nest when it is sent off to a publisher. Even though it seems a writer’s whole life hangs in the balance waiting for word that their book has been accepted, its value shouldn’t end with how much an editor or publisher thinks it’s worth.
Every writer should consider their manuscript as priceless, therefore great care should be taken to insure that it’s the very best it can be. A book is a reflection of the author who parented it, so don’t simply write a story, proof it yourself, and send it on its way. Give it the proper care and attention it deserves. A good parent wouldn’t dream of sending their child out on his or her own without the necessary guidance and instruction, so why would an author send a manuscript to a publisher without first polishing it up?
Authors typically hire editors to proof their work, but this is expensive. Most authors just starting out don’t have the resources to hire an editor, but in order to have a fighting chance in an extremely competitive market, it takes money. So, what’s an aspiring writer to do?
Join a critique group.
I found a group through an online writing organization I’m a member of. There are six of us in my critique group. Once a week we each submit a chapter to the group so each member can read and critique it. I have the benefit of having five other eyes looking at my spelling, grammar, flow, and structure. Instead of paying for this invaluable service, I reciprocate by critiquing their chapters. It’s a win-win situation.
Critique groups are a great alternative to editors when you’re short on funds. After you establish yourself in the writing community, and are making more money, then by all means hire an editor. Some critique groups may lack the expertise a respected editor has, but for new authors, I can’t say enough about a humble group of writers who just may be in the same boat you are. They want to succeed like you, and after you get to know your critique partners, you’ll find you’ve made some new friends and your very own cheering squad as well.