As of only a few weeks ago, I had never heard the term “CP” before. So when I received a message from a stranger named Kate seeking a CP, I could only imagine what it might stand for…
(The Internet is a scary place, guys.)
Turns out, she was looking for a critique partner. Someone with whom she could exchange novels and both give and receive feedback. It’s a pretty common practice among aspiring authors, but I was a CP virgin.
But as with any relationship, agreeing to engage in a CP-ship should be a thorough process, so Kate and I got to know each other a little first. The 6-Step Checklist from HelpingAuthorsBecomeWriter.Com is a great resource for screening potential partners.
After deciding that we were a good fit, we emailed each other our manuscripts, and it was off to the races.
And now that we have finished, edited, provided feedback, text constantly for the last month… We thought we’d share what we learned.
Q&A with Tauri Cox and Kate Strawther
Describe your book for our readers!
KS: Returning from college, small-town girl, Sunday Frederick is on a quest to understand her backwater roots. Plunged back into the swampy, mosquito-infested river bottom of East Texas, she struggles to choose between everything she thought she wanted and everything she can’t live without.
TC: When a new case – and the promise of becoming partner – lands in her lap, Dani Anderson jumps at the opportunity to represent Abigail Brantley, a young girl wrongfully expelled from the elite Nashville Academy after an affair with her teacher. Dani is determined to save Abigail’s future, even as memories from her own traumatic past come back to threaten her carefully cultivated and controlled life.
Where are you in the writing/publishing process?
KS: I have been querying Backwater since April 2016. Five agents currently have fulls and one has requested a revise/resubmit.
TC: I started querying State of Grace in September. In 2016, I received eight manuscript requests – two of which said no, four asked for revisions, and two never replied… I then took a step back from querying and have been in revision hell ever since.
What made you decide on a partnership?
KS: Tauri and I actually met on Query Tracker and then followed each other on Twitter. I have worked with other critique partners in the past, so I asked Tauri if she would like to trade a few chapters and the process was pretty fluid after that.
TC: Like I said above, I’d never had a critique partner before. But I was struggling with some of the feedback I’d received from agents, and when Kate approached me, it seemed like a great opportunity to get more specific feedback.
What was the most helpful advice you received from your CP?
KS: I think the most helpful advice Tauri has given has been about structure and plot. Those are areas I’ve struggled with so her advice has been priceless.
TC: Kate was really able to pinpoint the start of my pacing problems – an issue multiple agents pointed out but I had no idea how to identify. Once you’ve spent so much time with a manuscript, it’s hard to find its fault.
The hardest to hear?
KS: I think the hardest thing to hear was that I needed the book to start in a different place. As writers, we can get extremely attached to those opening lines!
TC: That my book had some pretty boring stretches. This ties together closely with the most helpful advice I received. I couldn’t see where pacing lagged, but Kate could.
What did you learn about your own writing by reading the other person’s manuscript?
KS: Tauri and I have very different styles of writing and I found State of Grace a refreshing change. Tauri’s prose is clean, crisp and perfectly suited to the theme of her novel. She definitely has a lot of talent.
TC: Kate has several strengths in areas where I struggle. I am a little more wordy, where she is succinct. She excels at description where I do best with dialogue. Reading Backwater helped me learn more about how to improve my weak spots.
How do you feel about moving forward? How did working with a partner contribute to that?
KS: We have both signed up to attend the same writer’s retreat in May and I’m super excited! It’s so nice to have a friend who understands what it’s like to be in the writing/revising/querying trenches.
TC: Ditto! Those trenches are deep, and I’m super grateful for Kate’s help and friendship. We’ve talked almost every day since becoming CP’s, and since I am in the middle of a big revision, it’s been great to bounce ideas off her.
What are your next steps?
KS: I hope to start writing my second novel very soon.
TC: With my revision complete, I sent the new draft back to the agents who requested it and will be getting back in the query game in the coming weeks.
I am beyond grateful for Kate’s help and can’t wait to see how both of our manuscripts – and lives – turn out from here!
Do you have any CP stories – good or horror? Let me know in the comments below!