Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Critique Partner Auction Blogfest

They say you can never have too many critique partners or beta eyes on your manuscripts.  I disagree, as I think having several thousand people trying to offer you feedback would simply be all kinds of impractical.

But you know, a few more here and there is never a bad thing!  Finding quality critique partners or beta readers, however, is all kinds of tricky.  So I propose a blogfest! 

Mostly because all the cool kids are doing them and peer pressure is a bitch, man.

SO.  Here's how its going to go down.  And yes, credit where credit is due, the format is blatantly plagiarized from a combination of MissSnarksFirstVictim's Baker's Dozen Auction and a few other sources.  Because I am a bad man who plagiarizes.

(In my defense though, being original is HAAAAAAAAAAARD.)

The auction is open to anyone and everyone with a current work in progress, no matter the current length of it.  The rules are simple and finite!  To enter, simply email me at by Noon of Friday, April 15th.  Put 'Auction Entry' somewhere in the subject line, and your email should include the following:

Your Screen Name/Blogger Name/Website
Percent Complete (How far along are you in your WIP?  Do you consider yourself a third done, half finished, three quarters?)

Query Letter: Yup, I want you to write one of those dreaded query letters, even though you're not finished with your ms!  Oh shush, its good practice!  Instead of writing to potential agents, you're writing it to your potential critique partners, trying to hook them on your book the same way you would an agent.  It's okay if you don't know how your MS is going to end yet, most query letters don't give away the ending!  What your query letter SHOULD have for purposes of this blogfest however, are your TITLE, GENRE, PROJECTED WORD COUNT, and of course tell us about your story!  The act of writing out a query letter for it might spark some ideas or connect a few dots for you in ways you hadn't antcipated!

First 250 words of your WIP:  Exactly what it says, just enough to let potential CP's have a sense of your writing style and see if they want to read more.

Then check back here on Monday, April 18th, when I will be posting all your entries anonymously.  They will be divided into THREE categories.  WIPs that are anywhere from 1% to 33% completed will be grouped together in Batch A, WIPs that are anywhere from 34% to 66% finished will be grouped in Batch B and all WIPs that are 67% to 100% complete will make up Batch C.

Once the entries are up, entrants are encouraged to go through the entries from THE SAME BATCH AS THEMSELVES.  The goal of this particular blogfest is to make an even swap.  Quid pro quo.  I want you guys to find CPs that are on the same page as yourselves, even footing as it were.  So hunt around through other entries from your batch.  Find the query letter that gets you most excited to read on down the page and check out the sample of their writing.  And when you find one that has you completely excited to read on further and leaves you wondering where the hell is the rest, yo - then place your bid on that entry in the form of a comment.  A bid is simply you saying which entry is yours and how many pages you'd like to swap with them, to see if you might be a good CP match.  It doesn't come with a guarantee of critiquing anything, its just to access compatibility and gauge how excited you are to see more of a manuscript.  If you're intrigued, but not totally sold, then start small.  Offer to swap the first ten pages, test things out.  If an entry just has you drooling for more, go for broke, bid on the first fifty pages, whatever.

One thing we all have in common as writers is we LOVE seeing people get excited about our work.  And the best critique partners are the ones who are the most invested naturally, the ones who in addition to being our CPs, are our biggest fans as well - because they're the ones who're going to put the most effort into making your MS the best it can possibly be.  We all write in different genres, in different styles, for different audiences.  So the point of this blogfest isn't to try and match you up with CPs who write the same thing as you, or who write for the same audience as you, or who even write in a similar style.  With this, I'm just trying to provide a forum for people to find CPs who match them in EXCITEMENT LEVEL.  An opportunity to go 'Oh wow, this person wants to read my first fifty pages just from what I wrote in my entry?  Huh, let me check out their entry - OH HELL YEAH I WANT TO READ THEIR FIRST FIFTY PAGES!!'

I would like to ask that people not reveal who wrote what until the end of the blogfest however, as we all have a lot of mutual acquaintances, thanks to blogfests past, haha.  We want this to be about the work, first and foremost, so let your entries speak for themselves and have fun revealing your true identity when you've decided who you're going to swap pages with.  Have fun with this in general, bidding against each other on entries you really love - getting competitive with the other bidders is encouraged!  Be realistic with your bids - every one you make is one you should be prepared to commit to, so don't ask to swap full manuscripts right off the bat with all ten entries you kinda like - unless you really think you have the time to sit down and read ten manuscripts in a timely fashion.  Start small, and build on the ones you're most excited for.  If another entrant dares swoop in and try and trump your bid on your number one pick, let her know, oh hells no, that ain't gonna fly, and raise your bid another ten pages!  When all's said and done, entrants can swap pages with as many people as they want.  You can swap with everyone who ends up bidding on your entry, you're not just confined to the highest bid.  BUT, again it comes back to being realistic.  We're all busy and time is finite - so the idea again, is finding those potential CPs who seem most excited about our work and starting there.  Build the excitement guys!

As a final note, please keep in mind that what I am doing here is simply providing a forum and a framework for this.  I can not and do not make any guarantees - the simple truth is yes, not everyone is going to get the same level of excitement for their entries.  Not everyone is going to get as many bids, and not everyone is going to get bid on by the entrants they really want to swap with most.  This can be VERY discouraging.  But it is also what you make of it, and even if you end up being the only entry that gets zero bids, instead of letting that eat you alive, I encourage you to step back, take some time and distance, and then come back with some perspective a couple days later and turn that into an opportunity.  Use a critical eye on your query and sample, and compare it to your favorite entries or the entries that got the most bids - see what they did differently.  Maybe its not as simple as them just being a better writer than you - maybe they just wrote a more effective query letter, and if so, can you figure out what made it work so well?  I can't promise anyone an amazing CP out of this blogfest, though I wish I could.  The only thing I can and will guarantee is that if nothing else, its an opportunity to see what kind of stories, query letters and writing seem to build the most -and most immediate - excitement.

Alright, so that's all he wrote for today folks!  Any questions or clarification you need, feel free to ask in the comments here!  Now go forth and spread the word!*  The more entries, the more awesome stories to sample, and the more fun for everyone, right?     

*Any self-serving side effects of this blogfest should be seen as entirely coincidental and not at all the ultimate aim of the hoster of this blogfest.  He is not actually an evil genius.  Merely a giver.  Who likes to give.  Now please stop looking at me him like that.


  1. Are you reading my mind? This is basically an answer to the post I put up a couple hours ago. Brilliant, BRILLIANT idea!

  2. He is an evil genius! Oh yes, he is! BTW, Kalen, I'm getting exhausted keeping up w/all of your posts. Whew! Where do you get the energy?

    I'm not partaking, because I have some rocking crit pals already, but you can bet I'm going to be reading these entries and drooling from afar. How fun!!

    Dude, I'm totally tweeting this. ;)

  3. Yes, I am in fact a mind reader, but please be discreet with that information. It figures prominently in my plans for global domination, so I like to keep it at a need to know basis.

    LOL and thanks! Glad you like it and that I can help!

  4. It's a combination of crack and witchcraft, Anita. Mostly the crack though.

    LOL. And FINE, I'll try and take it easy, but only for you! And I only posted once last week! So the three this week is....catch up. Hahaha.

    And yeah, I figured you were set, but thanks for the tweet! And good reads are always fun to see.

  5. Great idea, Kalen! Will you participating yourself?

  6. I will! And check your email in about half an hour, lol. I'm working on my notes to you right now.

  7. It's definitely the crack.

    A marvelous idea, Kalen. But do we ever have any other kind? (Uh, you, I mean. Do you ever have any other kind? Yeah. That.)

  8. Ooh, neat. Excerpts/longer blurbs definitely seem to be missing from most of these find-a-CP events, which I think is a pretty big lack. Yay you!

  9. Kalen,
    Wow, what a fabulous idea! I think it's awesome how you're trying to help people out! I'll spread the word. If I didn't already have a fab crit group, I'd jump on board myself!

    I'll keep checking back to see how everything turns out! And congrats on the R & R!!

  10. Thanks Rebekah! Appreciate you sending anybody my way! The more the merrier! ;)

  11. Thanks for opportunity. I sent you a Batch C entry. I'll check back here on Monday, though I'm not at all sure about the bidding process.

  12. @Paperchase - Did I send you a confirmation email? I'm checking through the entries, and I don't see one matching your blogger name. If not, can you please resend?

    And what concerns you about the bidding process? Its my first time doing this and I want everyone totally comfortable, so I'm open to making adjustments to the procedures if it'll help people.

  13. Kalen,

    I sent my entry today at 10:06 am. I just resent it. I cut and pasted your address this time, as I see I spelled "odonnel" without the final "l."

    My fault. I completely understand if my entry is now too late, and I get kicked the "l" out.

    If I'm still in, I have no concerns about the bidding process other than I've never done it before and don't know what the "l" to do.

    Paperchase, a sad case of a mystery writer

  14. Well, I missed the deadline, but found you through query tracker. Thought I'd say hi.

    My WIP is done. A YA urban science fiction romance.

  15. Hey glad to meet you! There's actually still time to participate as I amended the process, so feel free to take a look around or link to an excerpt on your own blog if you'd still like to find a CP!

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  17. I missed this, but would be very interested if you go with it again!
    Great idea.

  18. I missed this too but would love to do the next one.