To be in a critique group or not...that is the question. I joined two critique groups when I first started out and I have since left one of them for good and I'm only sporadic at best on the other one. I do have an AWESOME crit partner that I found in one of the groups. Here is my top things to look for in a crit group...
1. Read the rules of the group. I know that sounds simplistic in nature but please do. In the group that I'm still sporadic in, if you don't follow the rules then you won't get crit'd. Our leader is preparing us for publication in the sense, read the submission rules and your MS won't fall in the slush pile.
2. Make sure you check your ego at the door. Everyone critique's differently. Some times, I got a lot of red pen and some I didn't at all.
3. Be on time with your critiques. Everyone knows that life sometimes gets in the way so if you are going to be late, just shot an email to that person and let them know. Manners go a long way.
4. When you feel that you aren't getting any good feedback or the people in your group just hate your stuff (yep, I left a group because no one liked anything I wrote), leave the group with class. Don't go on FB or Twitter and bad mouth the group. That is called bad author behavior and people remember that.
5. Ask around in author groups for suggestions on crit groups. The best one that I've used and found my CP is RosesColoredGlasses. It is run by Delilah Devlin and her sister, Myla Jackson/Elle James. Here's the link: www.rosescoloredglasses.com. They run a tight ship but the people are highly supportive.
Okay, now that I've given some basic information about joining a crit group, I'll share some of my experiences...
I found Krystal and April in critique groups. I also found my CP in RosesColoredGlasses. I love her and no, I don't share well with others. She kicks my ass when I need it and picks me up when I'm feeling down. She wields the red pen with gusto but you know what? It only makes me better in my writing.
In the group that I met Krystal in, I have left. I got no support at all. In fact, most of the people in that group didn't like my writing at all. They didn't like The Couple and weren't afraid to tell me. I get that some people are not going to like your stuff but when I realized that no one was going to critique my other stuff based on that one book...I left. True story...
I get that I'm not a popular person. My review blog isn't the biggest, best, coolest blog at there but I'm proud of it. I'm also not a crowd follower, minion, or conference person so I'm not "out" there all the time. I have a life besides blogging/reviewing/writing. So when it came time for me to start promo'ing my book, it fell on deaf ears to my critique groups. Oh yes, they certainly used and abused my good nature to promo their work on the review blog but all I got was crickets chripping when I asked for help. I learned that some people are just users and that its okay to say no. You can't please everyone all the time. You come first...
So in closing, crit groups can be useful and hopefully like me, you can find that CP that you've dreamed off. Due your homework and research when trying to find a group or a partner. You may have to go through a few to find that perfect one but when you do...they are gold.