I mentioned earlier that I sent my first three chapters to some writerly friends. None of them write romance, only one of them reads romance, and one of them told me, “I have to be honest, I absolutely HATE romance novels!”
I’m hoping that that’ll be a good thing. They’ll all help me make my manuscript stronger without worrying about the conventions of a particular genre.
Even though I told them all that I don’t want any ego-stroking, I’m not sure how honest they’ll be with me. Half of them are writers I work with, so we’re used to editing each other’s news stories. I know they can point out problems without feeling like they’ll hurt my feelings. The other half are friends who are fantastic creative writers who are blunt to a fault.
But how do you get unbiased opinions from people who don’t know you?
I found a website called Review Fuse. It’s a free site for writers (although you can pay for premium service) and you can upload parts of your work and have other members critique it. In return you have to critique several pieces. They give you a form to fill out asking questions about character development, plot, setting, dialog and the mechanics of the writing.
Right now, they’re running the Book First Chapters contest where you upload the first chapter of your novel and they’ll choose a winner to get $50. You’ll get three reviews of your work in exchange for reviewing four others’ chapters.
I haven’t entered it yet because I’m a bit worried about putting a whole chapter online. Writer Fran Lee has told me, “Be careful in your friendships. Some authors don’t miss a beat to lift your great ideas and run with them. Unless you know your critique partner pretty well, and trust him or her, you could end up with your ‘partner’ usurping your story and subbing it.”
I realize this makes the assumption that my ideas are worth stealing.
It is possible to upload your work on Review Fuse and keep it somewhat private so only your three critiquers see it. But is it worth the risk?