[The Critter Captain's Tesla FAQ]


Ahoy, Critterfolk!
New entry May 28

Critter Notices

[It's Freebie Friday in the Critters Store...]

Books from Critters!

Check out Books by Critters for books by your fellow Critterfolk, as well as my list of recommended books for writers.

The Sigil Trilogy

If you're looking for an amazing, WOW! science fiction story, check out THE SIGIL TRILOGY. This is — literally — one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read.

Space Travel for SF Writers

Hot off the presses from ReAnimus Press! Space Travel - A Science Fiction Writer's Guide— An indispensible tool for all SF writers that explains the science you need to help you make your fiction plausible. (Also via Amazon)


I was interviewed live on public radio for Critters' birthday, for those who want to listen.

Free Web Sites

Free web sites for authors (and others) are available at www.nyx.net.

ReAnimus Acquires Advent!

ReAnimus Press is pleased to announce the acquisition of the legendary Advent Publishers! Advent is now a subsidiary of ReAnimus Press, and we will continue to publish Advent's titles under the Advent name. Advent was founded in 1956 by Earl Kemp and others, and has published the likes of James Blish, Hal Clement, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and many others. Advent's high quality titles have won and been finalists for several Hugo Awards, such as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Heinlein's Children. Watch this space for ebook and print editions of all of Advent's current titles!

Book Recommendation

THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock

Announcing ReAnimus Press

If you're looking for great stuff to read from bestselling and award-winning authors—look no further! ReAnimus Press was founded by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]








Crittech FAQ

Crittech FAQ

Still confused? Visit here for help.

Table of Contents [version 1.0, 10/01/03]:

Manuscript Questions


How do I format my manuscript for submission to Critters?
  1. Write your manuscript in whatever editor you want.
  2. If you are using MS Word or WordPerfect, don't try to introduce any line length into your manuscript because Critters handles it automatically. Apart from paragraphs, just type with WordWrap ON. If you are using a text editor (notepad, vi, emacs, etc.), make sure that the file is properly line-wrapped.

    Don't use any non-standard characters or advanced formatting. Italics and paragraph indentation are ok, but that's all. If you want to break your manuscript into sections (e.g. with blank lines etc), do it with the following: blank line, single hash mark(#), blank line.

  3. Now you have to save your document in a format that Aburt's submission process can handle. Critters can handle plain text files (.txt), MS Word files and WordPerfect files.
  4. If you are submitting a MS Word or a WordPerfect file, you can ignore the rest of this section, and go on to the manuscript submission section below.

    If you are already using a Plain Text editor (like MS Notepad), its already in a Plain Text format. If you're sure your file is properly line-wrapped, you can ignore the rest of this section, and go on to the manuscript submission section below.

    The rest of this section is only relevant if you are want to convert your document to a plain text format prior to submission.

  5. Reduce your manuscript to Plain Text. You do this as follows -
  6. If you are already using a Plain Text editor (like MS Notepad), its already in a Plain Text format. If you are sure your file is properly line-wrapped, you can skip to the manuscript submission section below.

    Otherwise, select everything in your document (normally CTRL-A), and change the font to Courier New, Size 12. Then Save As Text Only (*.txt). This is important.

    For more information see http://www.critters.org/text.cgi?f=saveas.txt.

    The essential thing is to save your manuscript as a pure text only file (i.e. *.txt).

    Now open your new .txt file in MS Notepad to check all is well.

    All italics will be lost, so you'll have to manually add them by surrounding the italicised words with underscore (i.e. 'This _word_ is in italics'). This is how italics are represented in plain text files.

    The text must wrap around the screen. Wordwrap must be ON. If you resave the file with WordWrap OFF, you will introduce extra formatting, and mangle your manuscript.

That's it. Now read the next the manuscript submission section below.


How do I submit a manuscript?

If you haven't done so already, read the section above on manuscript formatting.

You can submit a manuscript in one of three formats -

  1. Plain Text (.txt) file. Submit it via the plain text submission page.
  2. In MS Word format (a .doc file). Submit it via the MS word submission page.
  3. In WordPerfect format (this is experimental, but seems to work fine). Submit it via the WordPerfect submission page.

All three submission pages are identical, and self-evident if you read the instructions. You can leave most of the fields as their default. Things to be careful of include -

  1. Email Address: Get this right or you won't get any crits.
  2. Title: Save yourself grief, and get it right the first time.
  3. In the field 'Manuscript filename to send', browse to your manuscript file.
  4. Check all the fields are filled in correctly, and then hit the 'Queue it Up' button. Only hit it ONCE. Don't worry about the mangled looking page you are sent to on receipt of the manuscript. This is just there to scare you, and it won't come out like that when it's sent to the critters.

You should eventually get an automatic reply from critters confirming your submission, and you can check your manuscript is in the manuscript queue.

It can take a while for the confirmation Email to arrive, and for the Queue page to update. Don't panic if nothing shows up straightaway; sometimes the confirmation Email doesn't come at all. All that matters is that your manuscript is listed in the manuscript queue.

Use the queue page; it is your friend.

If your manuscript doesn't show up in the queue, don't panic. Give it one full day, and if it still hasn't appeared, submit your manuscript again (Submit, not Resubmit).


How do I Resubmit a manuscript? (or Help! I mangled my manuscript in the submission process.)

So, you mangled the manuscript, or did you? When you submit your manuscript, Critters displays it stripped of all formatting. It looks really, really bad, but it won't come out like that. Just forget about it; your manuscript is fine.

If you've mangled it in some other way, first read the above sections manuscript formatting and manuscript submission.

If you haven't trashed your manuscript, but just want to resubmit your manuscript because you've improved it, this section is also for you.

  1. Resubmissions are, urr, submitted at the same page you submitted your manuscript (see manuscript submission).
  2. Fill out the submission page as previously described, but change the 'Is this a REsubmission (revision) of something CURRENTLY in the queue:' box to Yes.
  3. Make sure the manuscript title is exactly the same as in the original submission, or Critters will think it's a new and separate manuscript, and queue it up as a separate story altogether. I recommend using Copy and Paste, especially if you are doing it last thing at night. If you want to change the name of your story, you can do it at http://www.critters.org/rename.ht.
  4. Then Queue it up as you would in a normal submission. Critters will automatically send you a confirmation of the resubmission. Give it a day to come. If it doesn't show, Resubmit your manuscript.

Also, check there is only one entry for your manuscript in the manuscript queue. If there is more than one entry in the queue page, you'll have to email Aburt at critters@critique.org to fix it. Use a clear subject i.e. 'Please Delete Duplicate manuscript from Queue etc'. If Aburt is on vacation or very busy, it won't get fixed straightaway, so be very careful, and try to avoid creating extra work for him, and stress for yourself ;)

Questions About Novels


How should I format my novel manuscript?

Novel manuscripts are formatted and submitted exactly like standard short stories (i.e. plain text files, MS Word, or Wordperfect). See the submission FAQ for details. Because they demand considerably more effort on the part of the critiquer, however, novels are handled via a Request For Dedicated Readers (RFDR).

For an RFDR you should put a header at the top of your manuscript. This header should include -

  1. The length of your novel.
  2. Any comments to the reader.
  3. A synopsis of your book. This should be like the blurb on the back of a novel you pick up in a shop. It will attract or repel potential readers, so do it well. You don't want to tell the whole story in the blurb, but rather to entice the reader into continuing.

Here's an example header to a manuscript -

>From the Author:

The first draught of this novel is complete, and is 100,000 words in length. I'm particularly looking for comments about plot and character, but it's all good. You can submit crits for this directly to critters (as you would a normal story), or email me at the address above, and we can talk. Thanks! Blurb follows -

The Pilgitt of Zelganon gets Flushed

by Broderick Smitten

Life is good for the Pilgitt. He has a local monopoly on the precious Prumpit trade, and he's just met the Snogrodd of his dreams. But his dreams quickly turn into nightmares when he finds himself transported to a less than magical public toilet in a small mid-western town. He quickly discovers he is the key to victory in a struggle between opposing forces--one sworn to rid the toilet of germs, the other hell-bent on infestation. If he is to survive, the Pilgitt must learn the rules of this strange new world, master its powerful sanitary forces, and decide who is friend and who is foe.

For examples of RFDRs, the most recent available to be critted are listed at the RFDR list.

Take a note of the piece you are interested in critting, and go find it on the standard manuscript page.


How do I submit an RFDR?

You submit it via the standard submission page, but you must tag the 'RFDR' box. Also, indicate in the title that it's an RFDR, and how many chapters the submission includes.

e.g. 'The Snegreds of Butuffolony Chapter 1 and 2 and RFDR, by Stone Justin'

Don't submit the whole book, just submit a sample. Apart from the initial submission to the queue (normally the first couple of chapters), subsequent chapters are sent directly from the author to the dedicated reader(s) per their own arrangements. Make sure you read 'How should I format my RFDR manuscript?' in this FAQ.

Once it's "up" for critique, you will receive emails from people interested in critting your novel. You might also receive critiques via critters as you would a normal story. Email them back, and discuss critting the rest of the novel.

Typical questions potential dedicated readers are likely to ask include: How long is it? Is it complete? Do you want to give them the novel in separate chapters, or as a whole manuscript? What kind of crit comments are you looking for? How many crit points will they get? How will you get them the files? What formats can you put them in? How quickly do you want them to complete this? That kind of stuff...

Here are two links on the critters site with more information:

Miscellaneous Questions


Manuscripts: Where are they and how do I get more?

A normal weekly batch contains thirty manuscripts, but by default, Critters only sends three to your mailbox. You can tell Critters to send you more, or less, and of what type (SF/F/H etc) at the Preferences Page.

Alternatively (and perhaps more easily), you can browse, or download a zipfile of all the stories in the current batch at the Critters Archive Page.


How many manuscripts do I have to crit to be an active critter?

On average, three a month, but obviously, you can do more. You can pace it how you want, and if you fall behind, you can catch up. If you fall below an 'active' ratio, any manuscript you've submitted to the queue will not be released until you've caught up. To check your ratio, look at your Critter Status.

If you fall behind, but don't want to catch up by writing more crits, you can reset your ratio to zero here. (Scroll way down to find it.)


How do I quit or go inactive?

You can do both at the Quitting Critters page.


How do I tell critters to email me at a different address?

If you need to change your email address, go to the Admin Page.

If you want to set up an additional recognized email address, go to the alias page.


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(Or want to collect money for other people reading your stories?) Check out Aburt's ReAnimus Press.


Fundamental to Critters' success is how people deliver criticisms. Start by reading Critiquing the Wild Writer: It's Not What You Say, But How You Say It. and The Diplomatic Critiquer.


Critters has a special program to get whole novels critiqued. Read about it here.


Please follow these guidelines for formatting and submitting manuscripts to Critters.


Critters keeps a queue of manuscripts out or to be sent. See the Queue.


Want to jump to the head of the Critters queue? The Most Productive Critter or MPC is Awarded weekly to encourage mo' better critting. How to win...


General Guidelines & Tips on Avoiding Publishing Scams


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