home           about           reviews           author insight           review policy

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Author Insight: Swapping Stories

Do you ever share your story with anyone prior to submission? At what point and with who?

"Not anymore, no.  Before I had an agent, I exchanged work with a few trusted (and wildly talented) authors.  I still do on occasion if there's something in a scene that I just don't think is working but can't put my finger on no matter how many times I come back to it.  So now, it's more to brainstorm a sticking point rather than have someone do a critique.  My agent is a brilliant editorial sounding board for new projects, so I utilize her when necessary too." - Kay Cassidy, author of The Cinderella Society.


"I do! I have a cadre of critique partners and beta readers who help me figure out what kind of mess I'm dealing with in my story. I work my readers in shifts--send some a first draft, send some a second, and a few more even get a third. It keeps the perspectives fresh." - Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe.

"No. I tried working with critique partners, and it didn’t work for me. I found myself second-guessing everything I wrote and losing touch with my own vision for the work." - Ty Roth, author of So Shelly.

"I have several people that I swap stories with, mainly other YA writers. I usually write the first draft and let it sit awhile before I send it to my readers. I also have two teen readers that go over my drafts to give me their perspective, which is really valuable." - Cynthia Omololu, author of Dirty Little Secrets.

"Oh yeah. I’m a firm believer in the power of critique partners. I’ll often send out the first few chapters of a book to make sure that they don’t suck horribly. And then once the whole book is done, I send it out to a few people who I know won’t tear my heart out or blow smoke up my skirt. I don’t send to people I know in real life who can’t be honest because they’d worry too much about hurting my feelings; my friends and family don’t get to read a book until it’s done and all they need to say is something like “Wow.” Which could be “wow, that’s horrible,” or “wow, you are an undiscovered genius who deserves to be immortalized in song.” I don’t know which, and I don’t want to." - Carrie Harris, author of Bad Taste in Boys.

"With Warped I did share the story, chapter by chapter as I wrote it, with one very dear friend. It really kept me going because she seemed genuinely excited about the story, and always wanted to know, 'What happens next?'" - Maurissa Guibord, author of Warped.

"Oh, definitely. I have the Musers, who are my writing family, and at least a few of them beta everything I read, usually before my agent even sees it. Then my agent and I go through several round of revisions before any editors see it. Sometimes I'll put out a call on twitter for betas to help me with a book. I'm definitely not shy about sharing!" - Hannah Moskowitz, author of Invincible Summer. 

"I usually run ideas past someone who isn’t a writer, not because I think one of my friends will steal the idea, but because a writer’s questions are too good! When ideas are new, they’re very fragile, and anything more than a “Sounds interesting” or a very basic question can damage them. My daughter has read all my novels prior to publication and always catches errors, and usually makes very astute revision suggestions." - Tracy Barrett, author of King of Ithaka.

"Greg is typically my first reader. I used to have a terrific critique group, but then my publishing career and teaching took off and I didn’t have the time to continue with it." - Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Blessed.

"My very best friend in the whole wide world is my plot sounding board.  We go to dinner, share a bottle of wine…or two…and I throw a plot at him.  He asks questions, tells me what sounds exciting or boring, and usually tells me to add more sex." - Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess.

"I read all my manuscripts, every draft, aloud to my boyfriend, and I send chunks as I go to my critique partner Jessica Spotswood. I share with other people as the opportunity arises. You never know when you might meet someone and want to exchange work. I'm not one of those writers who keeps it all close to the vest, though." - Jaclyn Dolamore, author of Between the Sea and Sky.

"I have a critique partner who looks at all my work, and my husband and kids are awesome for telling me what works and what doesn't work in my writing. Other than that, my work goes to my agent, but no one else. I'd love to try sending things to beta readers, but the idea makes me really nervous" - Inara Scott, author of Delcroix Academy: The Candidates.

"After I’m pretty happy with a draft (could be draft two or three) there are two people I share it with (my husband and my friend Susan). I consider their comments in my next draft. And usually after that it’s ready for submission." - Kim Harrington, author of Clarity. 

"I have a few trusted critique partners, other published authors, with whom I'll trade manuscripts. I try to wait until a story is either finished or I've got a big enough chunk done that the reader can tell what's going on. Their feedback is so valuable. My agent will also give input, which I love!" - Sara Bennett Wealer, author of Rival.

"I do. I send the entire thing to my BFF in installments, starting with the first three chapters. It's because of her that I finished Unholy Ghosts, in fact; I wasn't sure how good this weird little idea was, but she was so enthusiastic and encouraging I kept going. That's why that book is dedicated to her. I send mss to Caitlin Kittredge sometimes, and Mark Henry sometimes, and of course my 'original' critique partner Stacey Jay; we've been working together for five years now. We don't always have time to actually even beta read for each other anymore, but we still talk regularly." - Stacia Kane, author of City of Ghosts.

Come back Thursday to find out whether the rest of the authors share there work before submitting it!


  1. LOVE all these insights into different people's writing habits - thank you!

  2. Fascinating! As one who doesn't even let my husband or teens read my manuscript on-screen, before I'm totally ready (which is 2nd or 3rd draft), I loved this post. Thanks for sharing, all!