Although I prefer the face-to-face interaction of a critique group, where I not only hear verbal pats on the back but get to "feel" the reaction to my work, there is another increasingly popular approach: an online critique group.
Three types of online critique groups meet most writers’ needs–web-based groups, listserv-based groups and private email lists.
With the web-based critique group, participants send their work to a web site administrator who publishes the manuscript on the web site for members to review. Member comments are e-mailed either directly to the author or to the site administrator for distribution. To research available groups, do an Internet search on "on-line critique groups."
Listserv-based groups are set up with a list service.Manuscripts and critiques are e-mailed to the list and members can receive each individual email as it is sent or messages that have been collected into a daily digest. To find a group to meet your needs, do an Internet search on "Listserv based critique groups."
Private email lists are set up directly with participants who share work via e-mails and attachments. Search for "Email based critique groups."
Advantages of online groups include ease in scheduling, especially if you are also employed outside the home. You can participate at your own convenience, day or night. Also, there are obvious geographic advantages–no driving for miles to meet with your group. Additionally, online groups draw people from all over the country–even from all over the world–who are dedicated to common goals. You have the advantage of a national or international viewpoint. Finally, many writers like the idea of receiving critiques without having to be present.
Whether you participate in an on-line critique group or a face-to-face interaction group, honest feedback from thoughtful readers is among the most valuable tools a writer can use. A serious writer can’t afford not to do it.
Please share your thoughts and experiences on critique groups–either in-person or on-line.