FAQs

The Serial Collective FAQs

MEMBERSHIP – Main Group – The Serial Collective

What is The Serial Collective?

The Serial Collective is a collection of writers who have become members for one or both of the following reasons:

  • They are serious about their work, anticipating publication, and eager to give and receive critiques to improve their craft and produce a draft ready to pitch to an agent or publishing house. Their focus is on completing a large project or revising and rewriting a completed first draft. Large projects include fiction and non-fiction books and memoirs, novels, blogs, and short story and essay collections.
  • They are beginning or returning to a regular writing routine and need the motivation and accountability that comes with having regular deadlines and a group of other writers who expect to read and review their work. Their focus is on producing fresh work and giving it the time and attention required to be ready for positive feedback.

For an overview: The Serial Collective Explained – The Serial Collective ~ by Coach Bronwyn Emery

Who is in The Serial Collective?

If you have applied for a place in The Serial Collective, been accepted, and are up-to-date on your fees for the current cycle, then you are a member of The Serial Collective for the duration of the current cycle. In other words, everyone participating in a cycle of The Serial Collective is considered a member of The Serial Collective. Every member of The Serial Collective is entitled to positive feedback on their submissions from other members.


MEMBERSHIP – Subgroups – Pools and Pods

What are The Serial Collective subgroups?

The Serial Collective subgroups include:

Cycle 2 (April – June 2022) features one Crit Pod and one Prod Pod in pilot status, meaning they are in the testing stage. Cycle 3 will feature a PF Pod in pilot status.

What is The Critique Pool?

The Critique Pool is a subgroup of The Serial Collective. Members of The Critique Pool give and receive 3 critiques within the group every week (every other week for those submitting bi-weekly). Members of The Critique Pool are self-selecting, meaning they can choose who to read and critique each week and do not have to read the same writers each time. Neither do they have control over who reads their work.

Who is in The Critique Pool?

If you are completing a large project or revising and rewriting a completed first draft, you can apply to be part of The Critique Pool. Among other things, your writing must be polished, your characters developed, and your plot figured out.

How do I apply to be in The Critique Pool?

An application will be available on the website soon. As of this version of the FAQ page, if you would like to be in The Critique Pool, please include a 1,000-word sample of your work to Bronwyn Emery at theserialcollectivewriters@gmail.com, subject line: Critique Pool Request – Your Name – Today’s Date to begin a conversation.

What is a Critique Pod (Crit Pod)?

A Critique Pod (Crit Pod) is a subgroup of the Critique Pool. Where members of the Critique Pool can pick and choose who they critique each week, members of a Crit Pod are obligated to critique each other first and are not allowed to provide critique or positive feedback to more than two writers outside their pod each week.

Who is in a Crit Pod?

A Crit Pod is made up of three writers who focus on each other’s entire cycle/s of submissions, rather than on one submission at a time. Their critiques have the advantage of context and can track plot, storyline, genre expectations, character development, and other elements that the critiques of sporadic readers cannot. Members of a Crit Pod must provide critique or positive feedback for at least one additional member of The Serial Collective every week.

How do I apply to be in a Crit Pod?

You must complete one full cycle in The Critique Pool to apply for a place in a Crit Pod. An application will be available on the website soon. As of this version of the FAQ page, if you would like to be in a Crit Pod, please email Bronwyn Emery at theserialcollectivewriters@gmail.com, subject line: Crit Pod Request – Your Name – Today’s Date to begin a conversation.

For Cycle 2 (April – June 2022), the Crit Pod is in pilot status, meaning one group of three writers has been assigned to test the process and help shape the way future Crit Pods work.

What is a Positive Feedback Pod (PF Pod)?

A Positive Feedback Pod (PF Pod) is a subgroup of the Critique Pool. Where members of Crit Pods critique each other, members of PF Pods are limited to providing positive feedback to each other first and, unlike Crit Pod members, they are allowed to provide positive feedback to more than two writers outside their pod each week.

Who is in a PF Pod?

A PF Pod is made up of three writers who focus on each other’s new or relatively fresh work. Their positive feedback is about validating existing skills and celebrating recognizable growth. They also have the advantage of context and can track plot, storyline, genre expectations, character development, and other elements that the reviews of sporadic readers cannot. Members of a PF Pod must provide positive feedback for at two additional members of The Serial Collective every week but do not engage in critiques.

How do I apply to be in a PF Pod?

An application will be available on the website soon. As of this version of the FAQ page, if you would like to be in the PF Pod pilot for Cycle 3, please email Bronwyn Emery at theserialcollectivewriters@gmail.com, subject line: PF Pod Pilot Request – Your Name – Today’s Date to begin a conversation.

What is a Productivity Pod (Prod Pod)?

A Productivity Pod (Prod Pod) is a subgroup of The Serial Collective. Members focus primarily on producing a minimum word count on a regular basis, have access to Coach Bronwyn for habit-setting support, and are reviewed based on effort and follow-through—craft and storytelling skills are important but come after word count and/or time spent writing. Prod Pod members will hold each other accountable by acknowledging effort and progress.

Who is in a Prod Pod?

Prod Pod members are writers who are beginning or returning to a creative habit that will help shape their creative identity. Prod Pod writers are tired of starting and stopping stories and essays, trying and failing to write regularly, and believing they have to do it all on their own. Prod Pod writers crave the inspiration, motivation, and accountability that comes with being part of a tight-knit group of supportive, encouraging writers who are working towards the same goal: writing as part of everyday life, as opposed to writing as a flash in the pan now and then.

For Cycle 2 (April – June 2022), the Prod Pod is in pilot status, meaning only three writers will be admitted to test the process and help shape the way future Prod Pods work.

How do I apply to be in a Prod Pod?

An application will be available on the website soon. As of this version of the FAQ page, if you would like to be in the Prod Pod pilot for Cycle 2, please email Bronwyn Emery at theserialcollectivewriters@gmail.com, subject line: Productivity Pod Pilot Request – Your Name – Today’s Date to begin a conversation.


SUBMISSION PROCESS

What are my submission options?

You can submit fiction, non-fiction, or creative non-fiction. You can submit scenes, chapters, personal narrative, blog posts, essays, or short stories. You must, however, commit to one project per cycle. Your project can be a collection of different kinds of short pieces. Before your first submission, you will commit to your choices within the following options:

Submission pattern:

  • Weekly:
  • Bi-weekly

Length:

  • 0-800 words
  • 800-1500 words
  • 1500-2500 words

Category:

  • Rough work (Prod Pod members only)
  • Raw work (for Positive Feedback only)
  • Ready work (for Critique and/or Positive Feedback; Critique Pool members only)

This information will be included on your personal page and on the website WIP: Quick Reference page. You can change your mind during the first four weeks of any cycle and your commitments will be updated. Consistency and honoring your commitment are important for other members so they can plan who to read and how much time they will need to schedule for C/PFs

When are submissions due?

Submission deadlines:

Midnight Sundays, April 10 through June 26.  

What if I want to submit earlier than Sunday?

You can email your submission any time leading up to midnight, Sunday. However, please note that it will sit in The Serial Collective email inbox, unseen and unread, until midnight Sunday. Bronwyn recommends you wait until you are sure your submission is exactly the way you want it before sending it over—in case you find you want to make revisions. Bronwyn works from the oldest emails through the newest, which means your first submission email will be given her attention and the rest will be deleted without being read. When members submit multiple versions, it creates work for Bronwyn. Since submitting multiple versions of your work to agents, publishing houses, and most online publications is not an option in the real world, it’s to your advantage to practice the act of submitting work you are satisfied with and letting it go to move on to the next thing.

How do I send in my submissions?

Attach a Word document or cut and paste the content into the body of an email. Send the email to theserialcollectivewriters@gmail.com.

Subject line: Your Name – Submission # – that week’s deadline date (ie: Bronwyn Emery – Submission 13 – 4/10/22)

The subject line is very important; it is key to organizing and tracking emails and submissions in gmail. Submissions with incorrect subject lines will be returned. You will have until midnight Monday to resubmit with the correct subject line.

When will my submission/s be up on the website?

Submissions will be live on serialcollective.org within 24-48 hours of the official deadline (by midnight Tuesday at the latest).

How many of my submissions are up on the website at a time?

No more than three. Once your fourth submission goes up, the first one comes down, and so on.

How do you make sure only members of The Serial Collective can read my work?

All submissions are password protected. Only members of The Serial Collective have access to the password list. Your personal page is also password protected.

How will I know who’s reading my submissions?

Unless you are in a Crit Pod, you will not know who is reading your submission/s until you receive their C/PF. Keep in mind the fact that you have no control of who reads your work out in the real world once it’s published. This is a good exercise in both letting go of a sense of control over your readership and learning about your target demographic.

What happens if I miss a submission deadline?

Bronwyn handles submissions once a week. If your submission is not in The Serial Collective email inbox by 500am Monday, which is the earliest time she will work on putting them up on the website, you will have to wait until the following week. Please do your utmost to meet your weekly deadline; you have paid for the opportunity to have your coach and your peers provide C/PF on twelve submissions. Every time you miss a submission deadline, you miss out on the C/PF experience you paid for.


ROUGH, RAW, and READY WORK

What is considered Rough work?

Rough work is the first iteration of a scene, chapter, story, blog post, personal narrative, or essay. It’s the first step; it’s the result of getting words out of your head and onto the page without worrying too much about shape, form, detail, or clarity. It does not have to make sense; it just has to exist. Only members of the Prod Pod are allowed to submit rough work. Rough work is not included on the website and is not available for C/PF. For the purposes of motivation and accountability, word count and/or time spent writing rough work is included in The Serial Collective tally.

What is considered Raw work?

Raw work is a few steps above rough draft. You have read it through at least a couple of times and cleaned it up enough to make it make sense. It may be a little disjointed and there may be placeholders reminding you to come back and expand on something, but it can be read without causing confusion or making the reader work too hard to figure out what’s going on in the scene or story.

Your work will be considered raw or rough unless and until you have applied for and been accepted into The Critique Pool.

Writers who submit raw work will benefit from positive feedback but will not be allowed to ask for critique; it is too difficult and time-consuming to evaluate a submission that is not ready for scrutiny. Raw work is destined to change and develop as the writer tinkers with it, so pointing out what’s not working and not clear is a waste of the reader’s time and attention.

What is considered Ready work?

Ready work is part of a complete or nearly complete first draft. You have gone through your work several times and cleaned it up to the best of your ability. You need another set of eyes (or three) to read through for mistakes and weaknesses to do with story elements like plot, timeline, character development, pace, etc.

Your Ready work welcomes scrutiny. It’s not perfect, but you would not be embarrassed to submit your Ready work to an agent or to read your Ready piece in front of an audience.

An application for The Critique Pool will be available on the website soon. As of this version of the FAQ page, if you would like to be in The Critique Pool, please include a 1,000-word sample of your work to Bronwyn Emery at theserialcollectivewriters@gmail.com, subject line: Critique Pool Request – Your Name – Today’s Date to begin a conversation.


CRITIQUE and/or POSITIVE FEEDBACK (C/PF) PROCESS

When are my Critiques and/or Positive Feedbacks (C/PF) due?

Critique and/or Positive Feedback (C/PF) deadlines:

Midnight Sundays, April 17 through July 1

You can email your C/PF any time leading up to midnight, Sunday. However, they will sit in The Serial Collective email inbox, unseen and unread, until midnight Sunday.

Critiques that go through theserialcollectivewriters@gmail.com will be forwarded within 24-48 hours of the official deadline (by midnight Tuesday at the latest).

If you have not received critiques by noon Wednesday, email Coach Bronwyn to let her know.

How do I send in my Critiques and/or Positive Feedbacks (C/PF)?

If this is your first cycle of The Serial Collective, you will send one separate email per C/PF to theserialcollectivewriters@gmail.com no later than midnight, Sundays. Bronwyn will skim for quality and slip-ups (like making suggestions) and then forward it to the right person.

Subject line: Your Name – Their Name – C or PF – Their Submission # (ie: Bronwyn Emery – Erica Peck – C – Submission 13)

The subject line is very important; it is key to organizing and tracking emails and submissions in gmail.

What happens if I miss a Critique/Positive Feedback (C/PF) deadline?

If you miss a C/PF deadline, Bronwyn will not make your submission available on the website for others to read and provide C/PF. Your submission/s will be held back until all C/PF obligations have been honored.

How do I ask for specific C/PF on my submission/s?

At the bottom of your submissions, include a short list of things to look for (eg: does the dialogue work or am I overdoing the cockney phrasing? Does the drive in this scene read as tedious to the character or tedious to the reader?)

How will I know whose submissions to provide C/PF for?

You choose who to read. Be aware that while all members of The Serial Collective can give and receive positive feedback, only members of The Critique Pool can be given critique, and members of the Productivity Pod (Prod Pod) can only be given words of acknowledgment of their effort.

How many Critiques and/or Positive Feedback (C/PF) do I have to provide every week?

Regardless of whether you are in The Serial Collective main group, the Critique Pool, a Crit (Critique Pod), or a PF Pod (Positive Feedback Pod), you must provide at least three and no more than five C/PF every time you submit your work. Members of the Prod Pod are not required to provide C/PF; their primary focus is on finding time to write their own work.

Can I read the submissions of other writers without having to give C/PF?

Yes. First, you must complete your obligation to provide C/PF to three other writers in The Serial Collective. Then, you may read as many submissions as you would like without providing C/PF. You may not provide C/PF for more than five writers in any given week. Burn out is a real thing.

How do I provide C/PF for a submission that is clearly part of a book or longer story?

The C/PF guidelines address this concern. Basically, if you are reading a submission out of context of the larger story, you are expected to provide C/PF for what is in front of you and nothing more. Focus on skills on the page: Sentence structure, dialogue, setting, etc. Some things will not make sense without context; ignore them.

Can I access older submissions to catch up with a writer I enjoy reading?

Yes. Send an email to the writer in question requesting access. Please cc Bronwyn so the frequency of these requests in the group can be tracked for future cycles. The writer will either send you their work or give you the password/s to their older work.

What if I can’t find anything nice to say about someone’s work?

Then don’t say anything at all. Click out of their page on the website and choose someone else. If this is a persistent issue, reach out to Bronwyn so she can consider addressing it with the writer in question; if it’s more than personal taste then it’s important for the coach to be able to identify how to approach the writer to help them develop their skills.

What does critique involve in The Serial Collective?

In a nutshell, for the purposes of The Serial Collective, critique involves reading another writer’s Ready work and providing feedback about what does work and what does not work. Critique is not for rough or raw work Critique does not include corrections, advice, ideas, or suggestions. If the writer wants help from you, they will ask. Critique focuses on craft and storytelling skills.

Click here for guidelines and a template for providing critique in The Serial Collective.

What does positive feedback involve in The Serial Collective?

In a nutshell, for the purposes of The Serial Collective, positive feedback involves reading another writer’s raw work and providing feedback about what does work and what they are doing well. Critique is about the writer’s existing skills. It is about craft and storytelling; it is about their strengths. It is not about you or what their writing reminds you of in your life or experiences.

Click here for guidelines and a template for providing positive feedback in The Serial Collective.

When can I expect to receive C/PF from other members?

Within one to five days of your submission being live on the website. Your readers will either email you directly and cc Bronwyn when they have completed the C/PF or, if they are new to The Serial Collective, they will email C/PF directly to her to double-check before forwarding to you. They will do this on their schedule and by the midnight Sunday deadline. Bronwyn will track all C/PF to make sure everyone is honoring their commitments.

When can I expect to receive C/PF from Bronwyn?

Bronwyn provides C/PF for every member of The Serial Collective. You get to choose how frequently she provides C/PF for you:

  • One submission at a time, every time you submit, which will be sent to you by the Sunday deadline each week
  • In batches of 4, which will be sent to you once a month, by the fourth, eighth, and twelfth Sunday C/PF deadlines
  • In one batch of twelve at the end of the cycle, which will be sent to you within 10 days of the last Sunday C/PF deadline

PERSONAL PAGES, OWNERSHIP, and WIP (Work In Progress) PAGE

What goes on my personal page?

Your bio, your photo, your submission schedule, your word count range, and what you’d like your readers to look for in all submissions / overall (specific submissions will include specific requests for what to comment on).

Who owns my work once it’s on the website?

You retain ownership of your work at all times. This website is not a publication site; it is merely a private vehicle for sharing your work with your writing group.

Is my work considered ‘published’ once it’s been up on The Serial Collective website?

No. The website is not a publication site; it is merely a private vehicle for sharing your work with your writing group.

What if I want my friends or family to read my work?

Send them a file from your computer or a link to your blog. Do not give anyone outside The Serial Collective any of our passwords, ever. This includes passwords for past cycles; do not give any of our passwords to anyone outside The Serial Collective, ever.

What if I want a friend or family member to read another member’s work?

Ask that member to send a file from their computer. Do not give anyone any of our passwords, ever, and do not let anyone outside The Serial Collective read any member’s work for any reason, ever, without the express permission of said member. EVER.

This is a sacred trust. Treat it that way.

Where can I find out about everyone’s Work In Progress (WIP) so I know who to read?

The WIP: Quick Reference page breaks down who is writing what. WIPs are grouped by genre and include a brief summary of the book, collection, or blog. Summaries are provided by you. Bronwyn strongly encourages each member to practice pitching by pretending to write the back cover copy for their book. Imagine you’re writing it for some random person in a bookstore who picks up your book and flips it over to read what it’s about.


GROUP DISCUSSIONS and MISCELLANEOUS:

What happens in discussions?

Discussions provide opportunities for members of The Serial Collective to talk to each other about their work, give and receive deeper C/PF (or clear up misunderstandings), and ask for workshopping (eg: solutions for plot holes).

How often are group discussions?

Once a month. Day and time TBD for each cycle.

Are discussions mandatory?

No. Discussions are entirely optional.

Who tracks all the submissions and C/PF and how?

Bronwyn has spreadsheets. Lots of spreadsheets. She tracks who provides what kind of C/PF for whom, who receives it, and when it’s given and received—among other things.

She then translates the data into three spreadsheets in the Tally page at serialcollective.org so that everyone can see what’s going on and who’s been keeping up on their commitments. It’s one of the ways motivation and accountability show up for everyone.

Tally page spreadsheets:

  • How many C/PF have been received by each member per submission
  • How many C/PF have been provided by each member per week
  • How many words / how much time spent writing has each member of the Prod Pod achieved per week

What is a Cycle and how long does it last?

For the purposes of The Serial Collective, a cycle is a 3-month period of time spent with the same group of members in their cycle-specific roles, WIPs, and commitments. Cycles run January–March, April– June, July–September, and October–November. You can participate in one cycle and be done for years, keep participating in one cycle after another until your book is ready to be submitted to an agent, or participate in cycles here and there with breaks between them.

Can I join a Cycle after it’s started? No. But you can save a seat for yourself in the next cycle of The Serial Collective by sending in your application right now.

Can I leave a Cycle after it’s started? Yes. Life happens. If you have to leave within the first week, the full amount of The Serial Collective workshop will be refunded to you. If you have to leave between the second and eighth weeks, your fee will be saved as prorated credit towards the next cycle of The Serial Collective or for your choice of Bronwyn’s future labs, workshops, Game Nights, and/or retreats. Leaving after the eighth week does not entitle you to credit.

Why is Bronwyn’s work on the website?

Do I have to read her submission/s?

Bronwyn’s work is on the website because we want her skin in the game; we want her to work as hard as we do and to take the risks and be vulnerable and know what it’s like to receive C/PF from an assortment of people who may or may not be her target demographic. Bronwyn requests that you prioritize providing C/PF to other writers first so that the people who have paid to be part of The Serial Collective have a greater chance of receiving at least two C/PF from their peers each week.

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