In addition to your genre, age bracket, and working speed, we’ve realized it’s also very important to discuss your writing style and publishing goals. There’s an official Ubergroup critique guidance policy: do not try to make someone else’s story your own. Unfortunately, people keep running afoul of this policy by simply not understanding what makes another writer tick. Some people like to build up from an outline, such as by the snowflake method, and others find the best way for them to write is just to freeflow and write what comes. Some people find trade publication to be the best suited for them, others plan to fit into a niche in self-publishing. Just as each genre and age bracket has its own conventions, no one’s writing method or publishing goals are wrong.
The Ubergroup attempts to avoid baseless arguments over how one “should” write. CUBA is set of common vocabulary to help you communicate your needs.
- Commercial – I don’t care about literary merits, as long as it sells.
- Balanced – I have both Commercial and Artistic goals, and I’ve chosen some of each.
- Artistic – I want to meet my own artistic standards. I am not concerned about how well it sells.
- Undeclared – I just want to finish this manuscript without shooting myself.
It’s important to remember that CUBA is about what direction you want to change, now how much you are willing to change.
An example of an artistic goal is to have beautiful prose. That’s not necessary for mass-market sales and may even hurt you. (The widest audience groups dislike words that are too difficult.) An artistic author faced with this choice would keep elevating their prose, whereas a commercial one would simplify to please the masses. Another artistic goal would be historical accuracy in historical fiction, or scientific accuracy in science fiction. The widest audience doesn’t care, but an artistic author personally does.
“Artistic” is not a synonym for “My prose/characters/plot is already perfect and non-negotiable.” That’s called being stubborn. The Ubergroup is focused on developmental edits: major changes to character, plot, prose, tone, premise and other fundamental ideas. The only reason to be here is if you are actively interested in improving those things. If you are already satisfied with the basic content of your book, congratulations! You do not need a developmental critique group, you are ready to publish. If you only seek line edits (spelling, grammar and minor polishing) you also do not need us. Seek out a copyeditor.
Finally, CUBA is a sliding scale. It is a question of how often you will decide in favour of the commercial choice vs the artistic choice. A 75% commercial author, when faced with the question of “do I improve the literary quality or do what sells?” will choose what sells 75% of the time. An author around the 25% mark will only choose what sells 25% of the time. “Balanced” does not mean “laid back and agreeable,” it means “horribly torn between options.” It means “I have really strong opinions about what makes a high quality book, but I also want to sell well, so these decisions about which direction to change towards are never easy.”
All writers who have yet to complete a first draft of their first novel are Undeclared, even if you have an idea of where you may eventually want to be.