A story of mine, Pandora's Time, goes through the Critters queue today. I'm wondering what kind of turnout I'll get this time, since last time I got 25 critiques, which took me several days to sort through. I'll be happy if I just get close to average (15,) though I'd be flattered if I get so many again. I think this is a tighter story than the last, though it's longer, so it'll be interesting to see what holes people find in it.
It takes about four weeks for a story to reach the head of the queue after I submit it, and each person is only allowed one story in the queue at a time--although I'd mentioned before that there's one way to jump to the head of the queue: by doing 10 critiques in one week. I know I'd talked about trying to do this but... Well, it's probably not necessary (even if I could make the time to do it.) Yes, I currently have a backlog of stories I'd like opinions on, but I'm also constantly working on rewrites and new drafts, so there's no shortage of things to occupy my time. I haven't even rewritten The French Maid yet, and it's been four weeks since I finished getting those critiques. I've been busy working on something new instead, and The French Maid rewrite is the next item on my list. (Unless something else inspires me first.)
Yes, this way it takes a while before a story is ready to be sent to the slush piles, but it will always take a while. After I finish a first draft, I let it sit and marinade for at least a month before reading it again, and I always have things I want to change at that point. It's only after this month-long cooling-off period and rewrite that I offer it to anyone else for opinions, and who knows how many times the process gets repeated before I feel it's ready to enter the world. My point is that one story critiqued every month is plenty, since that's probably about what I produce. It will probably even help me fall into a nice groove once my backlog disappears (if it ever does.)
Now, some people send novels through the queue a few chapters (no more than 20,000 words) at a time, and if I am to ever do that, I probably will want to get some Most Productive Critter awards, in order to keep my novel fresh in people's minds. There's another way to crit a novel, which is to ask for dedicated readers to read the whole thing as quickly as they can/want to. Being inexperienced when it comes to writing and getting critiques on novels, I would think that the Request For Dedicated Readers (RFDR) would be superior since it will guarantee that all readers will know the whole story. However, in my limited (two month) experience, I've definitely seen more chapters go through the queue than RFDRs, so I have to wonder if chapters attract more readers. I guess I'll find out when I'm ready.