Critique Groups

I have a novel I have written over the last year and a half and I have gone through it and gone through it pulled stuff out rearranged it put stuff in researched topics and I want to submit it to a marketable publisher but I have not gone through a critique group yet how do I do that?

I get this question a lot. It’s sometimes difficult to start and/or find a good group.

Click HERE to read previous answers.

Salt Lake Writers Group

Do you know of any LDS writer groups in the Salt Lake Valley area? I would very much like to have other people to meet with to critique my work, and I’d like to provide the same service for others.

If you’re interested, talk about it in the comments section.

Finding Readers

I have a YA fantasy that I am almost ready to give to readers. I have a few readers. One is published in a different genre and the other two are avid readers. My problem is that they are all related to me so I’m sure their opinion isn’t unbiased. How do I find readers that are familiar with my genre and aren’t related to me?

Best way is a writers group.

Or my readers could volunteer in the comments section.

Writers Groups

I see on your blog and those of various others talking to LDS writers that finding a good writing/reviewing group is crucial. I am just starting to write, have no connections with other writers, and basically have no idea where to start to find such a group. Do you have any thoughts?

I’ve blogged about this topic before. You can read the posts here and here.

Let me just stress that the BEST place to find potential writer group participants is at a local writers conference. Where do you find writers conferences? Check at your local colleges and universities. Go online and find organizations and forums in your genre and join them, then start looking for others in your area.

Also, about those guidelines for a writers group, don’t know what I’ve done with them. But here are some good guidelines posted online: here, here, and here.

How Do I Protect My Ideas?

I have a question about personal copyrights. Sometimes I think about sharing a portion of my story (4-6 pages), but I worry that someone may take my idea and make it their own. I know that it would be a different story, because of how they would interpret it. But my question is how can you share your story with others (writing groups, online, etc) and make sure that you’re protected? I don’t imagine it happens often, but what do you do if it does?

Your copyright protection begins when you put the first word on the page. Copyright protects the uniqueness of your story–your unique and specific words in their unique, specific order; the unique, specific combination of traits for your main character, if he/she is very unique; possibly your world, if it’s unique enough. It doesn’t protect your idea or your basic outline or names/titles.

The best protection you have is to get your work published. Once it’s out there, and especially if it’s popular, editors will reject stories that are too similar to it. The more unique your story is, the more protection it will have. No one is going to accept a book about a vampire who lives in Forks, WA and whose skin sparkles in the sunlight unless it’s written by Stephenie Meyer. That is unique.

The human/vampire romance, however, is not unique. You can’t protect something like that. How many stories are there now about magical orphaned boys? About werewolves and mermaids? About people who see dead people? You cannot protect an idea; only your unique spin on that idea. If someone takes your basic idea and puts a new spin on it, they haven’t stolen your work any more than Meyer stole from Tanya Huff or Robin McKinley or Annette Curtis Klause. Chances are there’s probably already something out there that is similar to what you’re working on. Perhaps you’ve even read it. But you’ve taken that idea and created something new. We can’t stop that from happening, nor would we want to or we’d end up with only 25 books to read in the entire history of the world.

Now, as for protecting the unique ideas in an unpublished work, everything is a trade-off. Sharing your work in a writers group can give you wonderful feedback and improve your writing. There’s always that possibility that someone, intentionally or otherwise, might pick up some of your uniqueness and run with it. You have to weigh the risks vs the rewards and decide what you’re comfortable with.

This is my personal comfort zone: I share in face-to-face regular writing groups and classrooms, and in online writers groups and forums that require a password to enter. In these situations, I know the others involved can vouch for me if one of them “steals” my story. I do not share in a public forum, like a blog or a website, anything I intend to publish.

What about you, readers? Do you have this same concern? Where do you draw the line between risk vs reward?

Latterday Authors back up!

We are finally back! Still some rough edges to work out, but it would be helpful if you could announce this on your blog.

Our home page is There are links to take visitors to the writer’s forum (which I was able to recover thank and the new latterdayauthors blog.

Patricia Wiles

I highly recommend this forum as a place for LDS authors to chat, ask questions, give answers, support each other, and all that other virtual fun stuff.

P.S. Photos from LDSBA convention coming soon. If you were there and you have photos you’d like me to post, please send them to me this week.


Just a bit of this and that.

Keith/Attending LDSBA: Usually, individuals cannot come to the LDSBA convention. Some publishers schedule book signings during the convention and provide name badges for the authors, but usually only those who have a new book the publisher wants to promote. You can purchase a name badge at the door for $25, but this is NOT the time to be talking to publishers. They are busy promoting authors they already have and selling their books to the bookstore buyers. They will not have time to talk to prospective authors. If you come, plan to walk the aisles with your hands firmly in your pockets and your lips sealed. You can observe, but don’t interfere.

Jannette/Book Covers: I’ve seen some really bad covers too. The one that really sticks out to me is one where the heroine of the book is in her 40s, but the woman on the cover could not possibly more than 25. Geez, did the publisher/illustrator even read the book?

Incognito at convention: No rose wearing for me. I have allergies. I understand that this is particularly unfair because I know who most of you are, recognizing you from your books or your posts which have photos. Sorry about that, but life is full of unfair circumstances. I love(d) this site. I’ve recommended it multiple times here. I think it is a huge support to authors. Unfortunately, if any of you have clicked that link lately, you will have gotten an error message. You can read an explanation for that here.

Guest blogging: PLEASE send more. Please, please, please. Also, please copy and paste your guest blog within the body of the e-mail. Do not send it as an attachment. Since my computer crash several months ago, I’ve become very paranoid about viruses.

Writing Organizations

Should writers join organizations like SCBWI or LDStorymakers?

You don’t have to, but yes, I think you should. And RWA, and SFWA, and MWA, and LUW (or your state’s equivalent), and Latter-day Authors, and other writer groups and forums, and reader groups and forums, and…

There are all sorts of groups out there that provide wonderful information, networking opportunities and support. Don’t join them all or you’ll spread yourself too thin and never have time to actually write. And don’t join any that are out of your budget. But check into some of them and find one or two that fit your needs.

Readers, which organizations have you found to be most helpful?

Starting a Writers Group

You keep suggesting that we should be part of a writers critique group. I found one, but they are 60 miles away. Just how do I go about finding another one that is closer to me? Do you have some guidelines on what makes a good group and how groups should work?

If you can’t find a group that fits your needs, consider starting one. You can post info at your local library or on a forum board asking for interested parties in your area. But the BEST way to create a group is to go to a writers conference for your area and mingle. Find other authors who you like, who seem like they would be fun to work with, who have some skill in writing (you can usually find out their skill level by attending the critique workshop offered by the conference, or by the types of questions they ask other people). Then ask if they’d be interested in forming a writers critique group.

As for guidelines, yes, I’ve got some good ones somewhere at home but I am in the middle of moving and they’re probably already packed up. (Yes, I know…moving in December, what was I thinking?!!?) I’ll try to remember to find them and post them here after I move, but if you don’t see a post by February, someone e-mail and remind me that I promised to do that.

[That hollow thudding sound you’re hearing right now is my head, banging against the empty U-Haul…]