Critique Partner and Beta Reader Matching Service

As a writer, it’s not always easy to find a critique partner or beta reader to get feedback on your work. There are some forums out there, some blog posts, some twitter tags to follow or Facebook groups (if you can find them), but there’s no one website where you can go find someone to share in the joy/misery of writing.

What if we had a matching service for writers (like a dating site, with profiles where you could be matched to various people based on the info you submit)?  It could offer some privacy options so you could submit a sample of your writing, or a first chapter, and then decide who can view it. No more emailing out first chapters only to never hear back, or to find that your writing styles just don’t mesh.

I’m a software developer, so this is potentially something I could work on in my free time. Any thoughts/opinions? Any ideas for what sort of data you’d want to be matched on (genre, favorite authors, PB/MG/YA/Adult, etc)?

At first, this would be a free service, but eventually I’d need to find a way for it to at least pay for itself (web hosting costs). I could either put a donation button on the page or find advertising that would hopefully cover those costs. Last resort would be to make it a paid service, but I’d rather avoid that scenario if possible.

Here’s the information I’ve gathered so far. Feel free to offer any feedback.

-Profile Info: (all but username are hidden from users unless you agree to show) This is the information you provide about yourself when you create an account.

  • username
  • email address
  • phone
  • password (never shown)
  • location
  • links (FB, twitter, blog, etc)

-Search Info: This is information you provide to get matched to others.

  • genre (includes checklist of various known genres and option to write in a more specific one, can select more than one)
  • favorite authors
  • favorite books
  • age group (PB/MG/YA/Adult)
  • Maturity Rating (maybe like movie ratings? PG, G, NC17…)
  • Frequency (how quickly you need feedback or how often you want to work together)
  • Writing samples (either a short sample or 1st chapter of novel)
  • Publishing credits
  • Experience level for you
  • Experience level you are looking for (for CPs)
  • Local vs virtual
  • description of you
  • description of what you are looking for
  • search terms (specific words you want to search for in others’ profiles)
  • length of work you write (flash, short, novel)
  • length of work you are willing to read
  • for novels – chapter at a time or full MS
  • looking for a CP or Beta or both?

5 thoughts on “Critique Partner and Beta Reader Matching Service

  1. Kait Nolan says:

    I wish you luck with this endeavor. I did it a couple of years ago via Ning by creating Crit Partner Match, largely forum based with people placing what amounted to personal ads based on all those criteria above. Then Ning started charging, so I moved to Grou.ps. Same deal after about a year. While I had a membership of over 300 writers, there was little actual activity. I wound up closing the site, as there wasn’t enough activity to justify my investing in it (I had a CP long before I started it, so I wasn’t getting anything out of it) and I had exactly ONE donation out of 300+ members when I brought up the hosting issue. So from my experience, people won’t manage to match themselves up on their own in this kind of set up. What’s needed is some kind of database set up that would allow writers to search based on those various parameters to narrow down the list–obviously without a programming degree, this isn’t something that would be easy or free to do. Good luck!

  2. saraheolson says:

    Hi Kait,

    I was actually a member of that site, and noticed the same issues you mentioned.

    However, this site would do what you said, it would be a database to hold all this information and would provide results based on the criteria you enter, so you could eliminate people from the list that don’t write your genre or don’t fit the criteria you specify. You could also browse the entire list or narrow it down by key fields, but I think the majority of people would just enter their info and see who matched it.

    Thanks for the response!

  3. Melissa Sugar says:

    This is a fantastic idea. I read Kait Nolan’s comment & then realized that this would really require an enormous amount of time, money & effort. I am a novice & I have no idea where to turn to find a beta reader or critique partner. I found you by googling just that.

    I wish it were possible. I do not have the computer or software skills to contribute, but if you really do pursue this, I can contribute financially.

    Good luck. I have been looking for exactly what you are describing

  4. Heidi Hanschu says:

    It occurs to me that having the option of including multiple people in your match might be nice, i.e. rather than picking out just a single “critique partner”, the user could have the ability to assemble people into a small group. (Perhaps it already works this way.) In this sense, the system would just keep track of a mail list, This would require less storage space as once the group was established, there would be no reason to store their subsequent submissions to each other.

  5. saraheolson says:

    The application would match you with a list of people, and from there you choose who you want to contact. It can be one or multiple people.

    All contact between users would be done via email/blog/fb/twitter (at least at first). There’s no need for the application to be involved in that aspect. It will focus on finding matches between interested parties, and all contact between those parties can take place via other sites/methods.

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