Monday, August 18, 2014

Query Question: Absolute Write

I've been reading your blog for awhile now and have seen you speak highly of on multiple occasions.

I admit, I am biased in the opposite direction. Every time I see you tell writers to check out their writing forums, a little part of me dies inside.

Why do you like AbsoluteWrite so much?

Every time I have posted or read and replied to posts there, I have been bullied, belittled or ignored. I always leave their forums feeling like I need to crawl into a tight space and cry, or wanting to pick up my monitor and chuck it across the room.

I don't want to sound haughty, but I'm almost positive I am not the only person who feels this way. With a simple Google search of "bullying on AbsoluteWrite" a variety of results come up where people talk about their experiences.

Now I'm sure there are gems of people out there in the AbsoluteWrite community, but it seems like the majority like to tear new writers down in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

This leaves me wondering why someone I respect (you) and go to for answers, and who seems to really care about writers trying to pursue their dreams, would advocate a place that has such strong ties to bullying behavior.

I am not trying to be rude here, or trying to serve up a smack down. I am genuinely curious. Have you experienced otherwise on the forums? Did you not realize that such behavior was going on there? Or do you think writers need a strong backbone and if they can't handle AbsoluteWrite, then writing isn't for them?

On a side note, I haven't been to their forums in about a year now. I had an absolutely awful experience there around that time and swore them off completely. COMPLETELY (I am being extremely civil here in expressing the amount of mouth-foaming, eye-popping rage I have for that community). So, maybe the moderators have changed? And the community is much better now than it was? I hope that might be the case, but am doubting it.

For starters, that's never been my experience at AW, but it never would be. As an agent, people over there tread pretty lightly around me. The last time someone was dismissive of me, they were quickly chastised by other posters.

Which may illustrate your point. 

Yes AW is a free for all, but there are moderators and I've seen them step in and close down threads that were getting out of hand, and remove users for inappropriate posts.

And yes, groups of people tend to sort themselves into In/Out and woe betide the new writer who doesn't understand that dynamic is fully at work in any bulletin board community, let alone one as long standing as AW.

You didn't mention which forums you participated in.  I've only seen Ask The Agent and Bewares and Background Checks.  The people who get smacked down there tend to be the ones who come in full steam ahead without doing any research, and who tend to have opinions that don't match the majority.  And people who don't listen very well (or read other posts very well.)

AW is an incredible resource for information for writers.  Before AW there wasn't a place for writers to exchange information about response time, or experiences with agents, agencies or editors. I think that's a VERY good tool for a writer to have.

But I also think that AW, like all groups, has its own way of doing things, and that can be No Fun if you don't know what those unspoken rules are or if you fall afoul of them.

I don't want to get in to a big debate about AW here. Your experience there is yours.  I will tell you though that you can find blog posts around the web from writers talking about THIS blog and how mean, rude, and awful I am to people. Not every resource is suitable to every person.


April Mack said...

I don't know AW, so I don't know how similar or different they are (I didn't see an "about" page on their site to summarize what it's about or for), but on the old Miss Snark agent blog was recommended many times. I've found it to be useful and enjoy it as well. Hope that helps.

As for AW, I've bookmarked it. Thanks for sharing!

mhleader said...

Wow. Some forums are just incredibly tough on newbies. I will suggest an alternative to AW that the question-poser might find more helpful. Try (NOTE: that's ".NET" not ".COM"!)

It allows you to research agents, including the genres they represent (though double-check those on the individual agent website), find out response times broken down by type of query (mail/email, etc.) and research their query preferences (letter only, synopsis yes/no, 5 pages, 10 pages, 3 chapters, etc. etc.). You can set up a list of agents you're querying and report back the response--yes, no, how long it took, etc. etc. is free for basic operation--premium members have access to a lot more reports, the ability to track queries for multiple projects and other stuff. You can even get a report on response times and rejection/acceptance rates by genre--which agents are more likely to accept, say, a YA query or a romance query. The premium reports on response times are well worth the minimal cost of premium memberships. It costs $25/year for a premium membership. Pretty minimal cost.

AND...since virtually everyone on the site is querying for agents, everyone is in the same boat. I've primarily seen positive, encouraging notes listed in comments.

AW is not the only option for agent feedback, and while QueryTracker doesn't have the open free-for-all forums, it DOES have the info needed to set up an effective query campaign. It'll be harder to get a response to a specific question because it's not set up as a forum specifically, but generally the info you need is posted on the site.

And for general publishing world and writing info, try They do expect you to be a serious author aiming for publication, but there is a TON of helpful information on that site.

Good luck!

InkStainedWench said...

I recently posted a query on Absolute Write's Share Your Work forum. The critics tore it to shreds, pointing out every weakness and shortcoming. Then they helped me build it back up, line by line, cheering me on as I revised. I ended up with a much stronger query, and a lot of respect for the AW community.

If you want praise, I'm sure the Internet has plenty of esteem-building communities. Absolute Write offers something much more valuable: Knowledgeable people who put a lot of effort into their critiques.

Collectonian said...

My experiences at AW were very similar to the person who wrote in. I noticed a lot of negative, bullying behavior of anyone who wasn't in with the "in" crowd - nothing to do with newbie behavior. Simply polite disagreement in a regular discussion with someone from the in "clique" was enough to cause all sorts of nastiness to come down on them.

And once you get on the **it list, it becomes apparent pretty quickly in the way people respond. Always an undercurrent of snark from those in the group or you find anything you post gets ignored except by other new folks who don't know you are person non-grata.

I've seen people banned just for making suggestions or asking questions about the site mechanisms - well-meaning suggestions from newer members are a healthy function any of web site - even if they aren't implemented, such ideas should not just be shot down.

And yes, it is a heavily moderated site, except the moderators are some of the worst instigators of the bullying (as is the site owner). For me, I finally left and haven't been back - nor do I ever recommend them to anyone other than searching through the agent/editor warning stuff (and then I caution people not to make an account, just Google and read it if it comes up from there).

I don't disparage others from using it - if you haven't experienced a negative culture and get useful info out of it, then I'm happy for you. As Janet noted, it's highly doubtful she would experience it - very well known agent and no one there is that stupid :-P

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

I'm of two minds about AW. I always check publishers and agents I'm considering, first on Preditors and Editors, then if they pass the smell test I dig down into AW. It's a useful resource. But I've also seen the AW community tear to shreds one of my publishers, who has been nothing but exemplary to me and all the authors I know, for the crime of not wanting to be torn to shreds. Overall I agree with Collectonian, don't start an account, just lurk, and maybe take everything with a grain of salt.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Well, I just sauntered on over there, entered my info, so I could see what y'all are talkin' 'bout. (I'm using my lurking for idiots language).

I'm sorry boys and girls but for my little old brain it's synapse sensory overload. I'm not criticizing, but for me it's a little scary over there. I like it here where respect is still spelled 'write'.

whiporee said...

I haven't found AW to be brutal at all with one exception -- once you fire a shot, they come back pretty quickly. This is most apparent in the Share Your Work section, for both Query Letter Hell and the other places. If you post something there, folks assume you want their opinions. If there are problems, they tell you, but mostly rather kindly. It's when the author's hurt feelings respond with doubting the intelligence of the response that things get hairy.

The other thing that's not tolerated there is denigrating a subset of writing. If you say something disparaging about Romance fiction, for example, expect the plethora of Romance writers there to come down on you pretty hard. Same thing with other genres.

If you go into politics, you'll get flamed. As you will anywhere on the web. If you try to pump up a bogus seminar, you'll get questioned, and if you keep with it, you'll be attacked.

But it's got the kindest support forums out there -- from the Daily Rejection and the various levels of submission hell -- places you can just say this happened and everyone can say how bad that sucks (or to show genuine excitement for good news).

It's not perfect, but I've not found it to be the place the OP described. Maybe I've been lucky.

Unknown said...

This was my question, and most of the boards I interacted with were the YA boards and the Fiction/fantasy boards. I never was near the ask the agent and bewares boards, those were beyond me at the time.

And it was exactly like Collectonian said. It felt like there was an 'in' group and if I went against them, I got ripped apart. And it certainly isn't about needing esteem building. If you can't take criticism you wont make it in this industry. I have enough confidence in myself that I don't need to go looking for someone to pat me on the back and go 'very good'.

I just wanted to find other writers to discuss with. And I thought AW would be that resource. It turned out the opposite. I don't know about other moderators on other boards, but I even had a moderator join in on a post I made and say some pretty rude things to me. That's what pushed me over the edge. From there I've found a few groups on Goodreads that have suited my needs and allowed me to make some great writing buddies.

I am with others here though. I certainly won't think less of someone for going there. I just get nervous when I hear a new writer who's never been introduced to this type of thing, going there. I wouldn't want anyone to go through what I went through.

french sojourn said...

I'm not trying to sound like too much of a sycophant, but I must have missed that day.

"...I will tell you though that you can find blog posts around the web from writers talking about THIS blog and how mean, rude, and awful I am to people."

You have made this beginning want to be writer feel very enthusiastic with my "writing".

Thanks QOTKU.

DLM said...

My experience of AW did not leave me frothing with rage, but I was a member for several years and never got "in" the way you must to really participate. It's pretty clannish, but I'm also old enough that I don't care much about not being "in", so I used it for what it was worth. On balance, it was not really worth *that* much to me in the end. I left after a definite and clear attempted bullying from someone who actually had the protestation that "I'm not a bitch!" in her avi. *Shrug*

There are so many other ways and places to learn our craft and industry, it's not worth having to deal with agita and drama to become part of any community.

So I'll agree, I've often cringed seeing Janet recommend it so highly. I'm glad someone asked this. It's an interesting discussion.

Unknown said...

I've been on AW for a couple years and I've definitely seen the dark side, but I've also met some nice people through it and learned quite a bit on a large array of topics, from writing styles to querying to other sources of information. Like any other resource, I think the key is to use it how it will work best for you. You can lurk and learn a lot, you can post queries and samples for feedback, you can find writing partners and betas, you can find subsets of writers in most every genre. It's a large group with much to offer, and you can control how you want to interact (or not) with the community. That's what makes it worth recommending in my mind.

InkStainedWench said...

Wow. I didn't know about the in-group thing. I'm definitely an outie, having just joined this year. But how does that affect the query I posted? I was happy to read the critiques, and learn from them. I have no way of knowing (or caring) who the Cool Kids are.

Fatboy said...

great place for the basics or to enter a literary discussion with a 14 yo that's writing a vampire novel

Sarah said...

I've been a member of AW since 2011, and overall my experience has been great. I started as a newbie writer who didn't know jack. Yes, there are some highly opinionated bullies, but and I have seen the darker side of the forum, but they're easy to avoid. I can honestly say my writing has improved dramatically and I wouldn't have an agent without AW.

I'm not part of the "in" crowd. In fact, I'm kind of a thread killer, so I'm not speaking from a place of privilege here. The important things to note are: read all the stickies, read and critique queries and chapters in SYW, read old queries/chapters/threads, all before you post. I used to critique a lot, and yes some people are just tough, but others are tired of seeing the same mistakes over and over again. Many newbies join, rack up their 50 posts, and ask for critiques before they're ready. If you critique a lot, you see the same problems over and over. Issues that have been addressed in multiple old critiques or in the stickies. Giving the same feedback on every query gets tiresome, so do your research before you post.

And as someone else mentioned, some subforums breed dispute. I stay away from politics. I don't even look because I know I'll want to comment and nothing good will come from it. I just don't get involved.

It's scary at first, and like any large group of differently minded people, everyone isn't going to get along. If you read before you post and stay out of touchy conversations you should be fine.

On the whole, my experience with AW has been amazing. I've had harsh critiques (which i deserved) and there are some people I just avoid. But I also found my amazing CP through AW. I find fantastic, helpful beta readers through it, I've researched agents and editors and publishers, I've discussed books and writing and movies and TV shows, and have found a supportive community in the YA subforum. You just have to find where you fit.

Calorie Bombshell said...

I've found AW consistently helpful. Haven't noticed any "bullying," only different points of view among posters. I approach these types of forums with the understanding it's not a tea party, just a bunch of writers, agents, editors, etc. who communicate about the business. I try not to take any comment personally. Maybe my skin has been fortified a bit after several years in the legal profession. If you want to hear about rudeness and bullying, I have some law firm stories that will curl the tips of your ears!

Terri Lynn Coop said...

AW saved me from the clutches of PublishAmerica and I joined the unofficial watchdog group against PA and other horrific vanity publishers.

Yes, you do need your asbestos underwear over there, such is the nature of online forums.

I remember the thread that Her Sharkiness referred to. It was quite hilarious, unless you are the guy who told Janet she didn't know what she was talking about.

Most of my best online friends were forged in the AW cauldrons, including the award-winning blog I was part of for over a year. All that said, there are parts of AW I never visit because I have nothing to add or gain from them.

Use if for the archives until you are ready to jump in (which may be never.)


PS: If AW is a problem, never get into the same time zone as

ADominiqueSmith said...

Being on the internet and participating in any community requires tough skin. As in the every day life, there will be people who disagree with you on AW. The community is diverse and by far one of the kindest locales on the internet I've seen.

The people on AW are some of the most supportive people I've come across. They've dug me out of tough times and encouraged me to improve.

I feel sad when people walk away from AW feeling dejected. It's rough that they weren't able to experience what a positive experience AW can be. That said, I've also seen more than my fair share of new people jumping in and being belligerent. People that like to stir controversy for the sake of controversy. AW isn't about that. It is the main reason members encourage new people to read the stickies.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I read a whole lot on AW before I joined. Stickies, threads, etc. I'm neither "in" nor "out", and my experiences there have been overall positive. I've started a couple of threads in the research section and one in SYW and didn't feel all that kicked around (in fact, I was super cautious about SYW about not posting all of a long-ish story and the posters were all "NO, bring it!" Not that they loved it, mind you, but it was still a good experience, so far as that goes).

But. I also signed up for AW after years of posting on a serious Doberman board (don't laugh at me), and after years of being on the Internet in general. My skin is pretty thick anyway, and I don't tend to see people posting harmful things for the sake of it.

It is also, hands down, the best moderated board I've encountered. The reporting of bullying and questionable posts is strongly encouraged, and I've had a mod message me to explain why something was left up, which wasn't strictly required and pretty cool.

I think in situations like this, you just need to decide for yourself how valuable the information is or isn't, and carefully select where you put your toes in in order to maximize the situation's worth to you. Be mercenary.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Oh yeah. And while I don't really have a "crowd" on AW, per se, at least two people who I comment and tweet with regularly are people I "met" on AW. So it's been valuable to me for that alone.

Jed Cullan said...

AW is a brilliant community with awesome members. I've found it to be a great place and a very useful and valuable resource for writers. I've met true friends through AW and they have helped me more than they will know.

But, with that said, no, it isn't for everyone. No site that big can be for everyone. And there are places on AW I don't dwell. It's a large place and each forum has a different culture. You just have to find the one that suits you.

Elissa M said...

With few exceptions, internet anonymity breeds bullying. Yes, even posting with one's real name is still essentially anonymous compared to real life interactions.

Then there's the fact that bullying is often in the eye of the beholder. One person's example of bullying is another's brutal honesty.

I'm not a member of Absolute Write, so I can't comment on it specifically. Still, it doesn't surprise me that some participants feel it's a helpful forum while others find it a cesspool. A site like AW attracts thousands. Whenever you gather that many people together, there are bound to be a number of rotten apples in the barrel.

No one has a monopoly on internet advice, not even writing advice. When a site makes me uncomfortable or otherwise doesn't feel right to me, I simply move on. Also, it's always good to remember the sticks and stones adage and not take any nasty comments to heart. Becoming enraged over a rude post gives more power to the poster than they deserve.

DLM said...

For context, the incident I endured had nothing to do with jumping in where I wasn't wanted, getting political, not "reading the FAQs" as it were, nor any of that. I'd been on the fora for years, and knew a few people a bit, and never had nor really seen any problems with anyone I knew or didn't.

Someone asked a question on a point of histfic, and she received a lot of answers. She shot down every single response, and I found that bewildering. I said so, not the least bit ungently. I just said, "You've gotten a lot of answers here, you seem not to want to accept them - why did you ask?" or something like that. I was honestly confused.

She took it offline, never said a word publicly, and threatened me with mods. I was completely dumbstruck by the drama, and certainly by the threats and high-handedness. I told her I hadn't meant to offend her, I was truly confused by her response to the many very helpful answers to her question. She continued with what was unquestionably bullying.

Now, I'm 46 years old and have been online since about 1986. I didn't treat her foolishly, didn't get personal (which she instantly did). It's not my honest feeling I was thin-skinned nor immature for leaving a forum which didn't really offer me a great deal by the time I left (less than a year ago now).

I haven't crowed about how wretched a place AW is online, nor launched a public campaign of hatred against the fora nor this particular member. I found it frustrating and felt gerally that nothing I had to contribute meant much there, and I also felt that nothing there was anything I could live without. This latter point has not been proven wrong so far; I have truly excellent beta readers IRL, many reading and writing communities which are incredibly mature, supportive, and rewarding, and I learn a lot from places like Janet's blog.

Live and let live. But I didn't leave aw because I was hypersensitive, hysterical, nor closed-off to constructive exchange.

Anonymous said...

I've been a member of AW for almost two years and I've always enjoyed it there. The first time I went onto the SYW section and posted my stuff I had a bit of a "What you talking about, Willis" moment. A year later I can't believe I posted the stuff I did. Did I swing down from a tree and land on a typewriter?

All that being said, I think that new members (which I suppose I still am) need to realize that AW is a huge place. It also has its own culture complete with quirks.

Some issues there are touchy by reason of their spotty history. I enjoy spending time on the self-publishing board because I like reading some of the journey threads, but there have been epic battles there in the past. In an attempt to keep the peace, there are some pretty strict rules that the mods are very firm with.

I'm still unpublished, sitting on one MS like a mother hen and writing another, and I am truly unsure of which publishing path I will take. I do appreciate that there is a place where common self-pubbing assumptions are questioned rather than followed blindly.

Most of the people I've seen flounced there were saying things that didn't add anything to the discussion. The only time I thought someone was banned unfairly, I messaged the mods. It didn't change their decision, but did feel like I was heard.

Any negative parts of the community are, for me, outweighed by the tonnage of good people there who are genuinely interested in helping new writers out. That includes the mods, who spend countless hours sorting things for no pay and often a decent amount of contempt. (That includes you Dragon, even though I know you are dead to the shark).

Anonymous said...

I've been on AW multiple times...and I've been so busy reading all of the *stuff* (stickies, newbie info, archives) that by the time I decide to go to a thread to read about whatever I went out there for to begin with, I've already spent WAY too much time and end up logging out. I've yet to post anything. I almost believe the site is so huge I can find my answer without ever asking.

JeffO said...

My own experience with AW is that it's been positive overall. There's a wealth of knowledge and expertise over there, and most of the people I've encountered are patient and very willing to share with others.

All that said, however, there are abrasive types and short-tempered folks and people who honestly believe "it's my way or the highway"--same as any other place where people gather. And it does have its own particular culture. I agree with Janet, though: most of the most serious problems I've seen people have over there have been self-inflicted.

Anonymous said...

In response to mhleader, not sure if it's already been addressed, but does have a forum. And my experience there has been phenomenal and very supportive and encouraging.

Unknown said...

This blog, Query Shark, and Chum Bucket collectively represent a Disneyland for writers. One vision, one set of rules, all created by one person looking to give more than they get in return. Or in Janet Reid's case - giving while getting nothing in return.

Absolute Write is not Disneyland. It's a community. In any community you'll find some individuals that are giving and supportive, while some are not so much. However, some parts of a community are more welcoming than others.

Here is a breakdown of the main AW neighborhoods:

Mayberry: Friendly and helpful.
1) General Writing Interest
2) Discussions

Gated Communities: Great if you can get in.
1) The Break Room
2) Writing Genre

The County Club: Theoretically anyone can get in once you pay the dues. In AW terms that means having an account over 6 months old and post regularly.
1) AW Writing Lab

For what it's worth, I've met some great folks at Absolute Write who have contributed immensely to improving my writing. It's not Disneyland, but few places are.

Karen said...

I can't speak for the rest of the forums as I have only used Ask the Agent and Bewares and Background Checks, and that's all. I have to say, they're invaluable if you're wanting to be published. I would recommend them.

Dor said...

I will be the first to say AW can be a harsh place and - like any other place on the internet - it's filled with people.

Yannow: *people*. People who have good days and bad days, who have their own quirks, their own pressure points, their own back-stories you know nothing about etc etc

Sure, it's overwhelming. Yup, if you're new, you may likely feel that you're being ignored. You may be filled with misinformation. You may just be stating the blindingly obvious which is news to you because you're new.

Absolutely, the posters (including Mods) are capable of going off on one - I've had it happen to me about something it was perceived I said rather than what I actually said. It wasn't bullying or anything like that, it was somebody who could have been nicer but wasn't (and wasn't obliged to be). Just a person with whom I touched a nerve.

An awful lot of people go into online critiques thinking they are ready to take it but they aren't. Then there are people who explain why the critters are wrong. Then there are the people who ask *those* questions, such as "How long should a chapter be", or something about prologues.

The AWers aren't there to hold you hand or make you feel better about yourself. They've seen every basic mistake a thousand times (and likely made them themselves) - Q's starting with rhetorical questions, the looking in the mirror thing, waking up to show the narrators normal life thing - and often these get be pointed out with snark. Don't mistake it for personal insult, and maybe read which covers the issue of phrasing things in a non-insulting way nicely (basically, it takes too long to point out your issues while making sure your feelings don't get hurt). It may not be for you, and if it isn't, I suggest you hang around to crit other stuff. You'll learn loads to help with your own writing, and you'll also give a gentler perspective.

I'll also tell you a story: I critiqued the query for Tracy Garvis Graves On The Island - I think I said something along the lines of not knowing why anybody would want to read it because we'd seen it all before. She self-published, got about a bajillion 5 star reviews and a large figure Big 5 contract. I was right, of course ;), as borne out by the reviews which mention some of the issues I had with the query (I distinctly remember asking what happened on the island when the redcoats came to town), but I was also wrong because the book worked and connected with its audience in a big way in spite of what I would have called issues. When somebody (anybody, anywhere) says something you disagree with, or disagrees with you, consider the ways in which they might be right, they consider if you want to take any notice. :D

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I joined AW several years ago (2009) and was very active when I first logged on--mainly because I hadn't made any other YA writer contacts IRL yet. I went in as a wide-eyed newbie with a 124,000-word completed manuscript in hand and a "lookie what I did" attitude.

They quickly disabused me of the notion that "completed" meant ready (ready to query, ready to publish--ready to be anything other than a door stop). But, I absolutely needed to hear that. I did have to use my best judgement to sort out which feedback was going to be actually helpful, but we all do that on a daily basis in all aspects of our lives. The poetry subforum was by far the most ruthless, imo, but again it helped me pare down my then-overly-flowery attempts.

I went on to post queries, short stories, poems, and more and thought it was worthwhile (or I wouldn't have gone back). Developed a lot of friendships that have continued on outside of AW. I even connected with some fabulous beta readers through AW, which have become friends and trusted readers.

But where AW really saved me was that Backgrounds and Bewares--I had signed with an agent and was seeing a few red flags in his behavior. Nothing major, just things that made me have doubts--then former clients of his chimed in on his agency thread with stories of why they'd left. Their comments made me take a hard look at his interactions with me (their stories were eerily similar to mine, but they were a year or two further in), and to ask him some more questions. I wasn't happy with his answers and parted ways--and I don't regret it one bit.

If I hadn't been subscribed to that thread and gotten the headsup, I may have silenced my doubts and wasted more time and effort. Instead, I have a book coming out from Spencer Hill Press next May--and I'm not tied into a contract with that agent.

Michelle Athy said...

I've been on AW since 2012. What I've found is that yes, there are the abrasive ones. There is some jerky and snobby behavior.

But you know what? If you don't like it, you can report it to the mods. Also, when do you ever get fifty writers into a room and have them agree on something? Never. AW is just a larger manifestation of that. There are some posters who have their clique, but frankly, being the oblivious type, that's never bothered me. You can't expect to be "in" with a crowd that's been chatting to each other for years, perhaps, in a matter of days. It takes time.

I've found the boards incredibly helpful. My writing has definitely improved since I started hanging out there. I've gained blog followers and readers from AW as well as the members of my writing group.

I tried other online writing places and so have my writing group peeps. But not many of those other forums have a thread to post your latest blog posts, thereby gaining followers. Or QLH. Or any of the critique forums or the agent forums.

The benefits outweigh the occasional head-scratching behavior on the part of a minority (albeit a loud minority) of members.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I wanted to add that there are alternatives to AW if you've found it's not for you--one great opportunity is the forum for the free online conference WriteOnCon; it's only open around the time of the conference, and that's right now! I got some great agent feedback on my query there before. The conference website is at and the forum is at

Janet Reid said...

A word of caution: comments on this post can be about your own experience, or be offers of specific help or information.

What will be deleted are blanket statements about intentions of people other than yourself and sweeping generalizations.

And calling me a liar on my own blog, well, that's just blithering stupidity.

Dannie Morin said...

This was quite a few years ago now, but I had an experience similar to the OP--one that almost drove me from the industry. I posted a query and explained at the top of my post that this was my first time asking for critique--which only gave them another reason to pick and prod. I'd heard "Absolute Write" was THE critique forum and I felt that writers were not a crew I wanted to associate with if that was the ideal.

Since then I've found an incredibly supportive writing community at I wholeheartedly but respectfully disagree that internet critique groups are always of this breed because of anonymity. Some critique forums (like Scribophile) have guidelines as to what constitutes a productive critique and allows writers to rate the feedback they're given--or in extreme cases report it. On Scrib being the sort of scathing venom spewer I experienced on Absolute Write simply gets you kicked out.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I see a forum that's too rough, I just read and don't participate.