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Guest Author Lisa Kessler

Hi everyone –

Thank you to Sarah for inviting me to blog today!

I met Sarah a few months ago when we formed an online critique group. There are four of us on our “Almost Fabulous” crit crew, and since we created the group all of us have been contracted or published! YAY!

Our group has been supportive and informative about everything from self-publishing, marketing, pitching, and even what it’s like working with an editor to hone a book.

But now that we’re contracted, do we still need a critique group?

My answer is yes.

Even though we’ve sold a book or a series, we will still be writing new material, and the group we’ve got has eagle eyes lemme tell ya! LOL

For example, my new self-published release, Across the Veil

It’s only 26 pages long. It was too long to submit for most short story anthologies, and too short for most ePub novellas. But it was a good story.

I wanted to send it into the world.

I decided to release it myself as an eBook, but before formatting and uploading it, I ran it through our critique group. I’m so glad I did! Even though I had edited the story numerous times, my group found a few things I missed that really cleaned up the book. I’m grateful to every one of them! 🙂

With self-publishing becoming a more common practice, I think critique groups grow in importance. As a reader, there is nothing worse than paying for a poorly edited book. It’s frustrating. Didn’t the author care enough to correct typos and be sure they tied up all the loose plot lines in their story?

A great critique group can save you from putting out work that’s not quite ready yet. After I’ve edited a story a few times, I stop noticing missing words, etc. It’s frustrating! You need a fresh pair of eyes that you trust to tell you if a character isn’t working, or their motivations seem a little off.

I’d rather have my critique group find weaknesses instead of a reviewer, right?

So with every good review I see for Across the Veil, I feel like hugging my critique group for helping me polish it until it shined.

If you’re thinking about self-publishing or even if you’re under contract for a book, a good critique group is one of the best tools you can add to your writer’s tool kit.

Thank you to Sarah and the rest of our Almost Fabulous crew for all the feedback! And I hope we can keep helping each other on the path to being full-time writers… 🙂

What about you? Do you have a critique group? Are you looking for one?

Where to find Lisa on the Web:
Across the Veil – Available now!


  1. Congrats on your success with Across the Veil, Lisa! 🙂 I'm so glad to hear you still need a critique group because I know I do! I lose all perspective after reading the manuscript ten times. I especially need a critique group after seeing all the edits I'm going through for RUINED 😀 As long as a person stays true to their story, sending it through a crit group will only strengthen the writing and get rid of errors that may be disrupting the story.

  2. I have a critique partner that I love. Without her I would have made a fool of myself. She's been published and pointed out several techniques and things I need to master before sending in my first manuscript anywhere. I'd rather send in my best than something that looks like a mess.

  3. Hi Sally! *waving*

    I think you're right!!! If you self-publish without having extra eyes read over your work, you're not helping yourself or your work…

    Thanks so much for your eyes chica!!! LOL


    Lisa 🙂

  4. Hi Kinley!

    Ithink you have to find the "right" crit group too! You need people who understand your voice and whose comments encourage you to improve… If someone's feedback hinders you from writing and shakes your confidence, it might not be the right fit for a crit partner…

    I'm so glad you got us all together!!! Almost Fabulous rocks! 🙂


  5. Hey there Marissa! (Fictional Bookshelf)

    You're so lucky to have a great crit pratner to help you get your manuscript ready BEFORE you start submitting to publishers and agents! 🙂

    (Also, if you haven't checked out the Fictional Bookshelf book review site, go take a look!!!! If you're looking for book reviews, she does a super job!!! 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Lisa 🙂

  6. Thank you for guest blogging with me, Lisa! Awesome post. I love it and totally agree with it!

    Hi Sally! Hi Kinley! Thank you for commenting, Fictional Bookshelf!

  7. Great blog Lisa! And I'm jealous you've found such a great group :). I'd love to find one but so far no luck (had two local friends form a local group- but it's died :(). I think crit groups/partners are VERY important- keep you from going crazy!

  8. Hi, Lisa. Critique groups are invaluable. I belong to a group whose members cycle in and out depending on what they're working on and where they are in the process. Getting the perspective of the others is a great help for me. The extra sets of eyes on the final pass–priceless.

  9. Hi Lisa. Great post. I agree that a critique becomes extra important with the increase in selfpublishing. I get frustrated with myself when I see stupid typos/errors. It's true that we get too close to our work.

  10. Hi Marie! *waving*

    Sorry to hear your crit group fizzled… I've had two local groups do that too. It's a bummer!

    and you're right they definitely can help you stay sane in this crazy business we've jumped in to! LOL

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting chica!!! You rock!

    Lisa 🙂

  11. Hi Dawn Marie –

    I agree that having a final set of eyes seeing your final pass definitely helps!!!

    And gaining fresh perspective from someone you trust makes it even better!

    So how do you cycle people in and out? Kinley and Sarah "auditioned" crit partners! LOL I thought it was genius. I'd never thought of that before… 🙂


  12. Hi Shelley! *waving*

    Isn't it awful when you think you have a clean copy, give it to your crit partners only to see that you have missing words, 2 typos and four missing commas??? LOL *headdesk* How does that happen???

    As more people self-publish I think crit groups are going to be even more important…

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Lisa 🙂

  13. I'm so glad you have a great critique group, Lisa! You're so right about us not being able to see the typos and missing words in our own work. And when a critique partner can point out the bigger issues as well, that's priceless. Two thumbs up for crit groups!!

  14. Lisa, fancy meeting you here. 😉 I'm blogging here too on the 24th!

    I agree that a good critique group can be invaluable. Not only for the nitty gritty grammar mistakes but for calling you out when something doesn't make sense. I ran the beginning of my second novella of my shadow warrior series through my group. They had problems w/ the heroine. I went back and revised and made a much stronger story because of their input.

  15. Hi Cori –

    You're right about the bigger problems too! I'm working on two different series and it's been really helpful to see if I'm including enough backstory to make the books stand alone, but not so much that it gets bogged down and boring… LOL

    Crit groups rock!

    Lisa 🙂

  16. Hi Gabriella!!! *waving*

    I'll have to be sure to come back on the 24th and say Hi! 🙂

    It's also worth noting that you have to really trust the group you're working with. Crafting a character is tricky and bad advice can be worse than no advice at all! LOL

    Thanks for commenting!

    Lisa 🙂

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