In the last few weeks, I’ve had a first page critique, a query critique and a first chapter critique on my middle grade in progress, Granddad’s Toys. I’ve also participated in two chats–one about writing love scenes with Harlequin Blaze author, Tawny Weber, and one with a Harlequin editor, Leslie Ann Tuttle, for the new digital only line. As a result of that chat with the Harlequin editor, I participated in a pitch contest for Harlequin’s new digital only line for a novella series….waiting to hear if it was accepted.
But, the best thing? All of these critiques and chats have been extremely helpful and all have been free.
How were all of these free? After helping out with the Amazing Race where I spent the week picking up requests for query critiques, social media requests and answering questions about being a writer, the sponsors of the event, Becca and Angela, offered their services to the authors who volunteered in the Amazing Race. I popped the first page over to them and received great questions about one of the character’s reactions to the unfolding scene.
The pitch critique came from freelance editor, Ellen Brock, who offered a contest on her blog. Part of the contest asked writers to post pitches and queries in the comment section of her blog. At the end of the week, she critiqued those of us who posted our queries.
Although I didn’t win her free critique on 25,000 words, she did offer to critique the first chapter. I popped it over to her and three days later received it back with great comments about character motivation as well as amazing line editorial advice. Ellen was the head editor at the Musa Publishing’s YA imprint and she’s an amazing editor. This free chapter critique gave me a chance to see her style and to see if we’d work well together if I ask her to do a paid critique on my middle grade later this winter.
All of these recent opportunities are the same things writers seek out at conferences. But conferences aren’t always practical for various reasons–scheduling, travel, cost.
What I have been amazed to realize in the last two weeks is these opportunities also exist without going to conferences. No expense. No travel. No time scheduling committment.
How did I seek out these opportunities?
First, find an on-line community. There are a lot of great communities on-line for authors. Some of my favorites are:
- Savvy Authors: The chat with Tawny Weber about Writing Love Scenes, was offered at the Savvy Authors Community. Although you can pay to be a member and receive discounts on classes and other special opportunities, you do not have to be a premium member to participate in the on-line community. There are frequent free chat sessions and pitch opportunities for romance and YA romance.
- The Harlequin Community–Harlequin also has their own on-line community where editors from the various lines offer pitch sessions, chat sessions, and writers have a place to talk about writing for Harlequin. This is a free community board here.
- Verla Kay’s Blueboard–Verla Kay’s Blueboard is now a part of SCBWI. You do not have to be a member of SCBWI to access the blueboard. But, if you are a member and the more you post, other boards open up to you. This is an invaluable source of information and I have often found new places to submit for children’s markets as well as opportunities such as volunteering in the Amazing Race.
- Volunteer–Volunteering can include hosting other authors on your blog, helping a well-known author get a new book launched by promoting their boo on your blog, or helping out with something such as the Amazing Race where you are offering to critique and help other writers.
- Connect with Facebook: Beside my personal page, I belong to a handful of Facebook Pages–some are closed groups to the public. For example, all of my publishers have Facebook groups for their authors. On the pages, we post about upcoming promotion opportunities as well as talk about what is working and what is not. I also belong to a handful of specialty Facebook groups such as Middle Grade Writers (this is where I heard about Ellen Brock’s opportunity), and Marketing for Romance Writers. These groups are far more than marketing our current books. They are about building community.
Finally, seek out the opportunities that might not be as well known, but are just as valuable. For example, Ellen Brock wasn’t flooded with query requests on her blog contest the way she might have been had she been a well-known freelance editor such as Dear Editor (who is also offering a contest on her blog right now) or Brenda Novak’s charity auctions which draw hundreds of writers bidding on manuscript critiques with editors. Also, look for places where authors are hosting an auction that benefits a specific cause. It may not be as hard or as expensive to bid on the big items like manuscript critiques. I won a first chapter and query critique on my memoir with agent, Sarah LaPolla, last winter while bidding for a kill free cat shelter. The money went to a good cause, and I received a great critique.
Now, thanks to all these great opportunities in the last few weeks, I have a lot of writing work to do! Let us know in the comments below if you have found any great opportunities.