So, you've fulfilled your requirements and waited the two weeks, posted here and there in the forum, chatted, made friends, given your two requisite critiques and now you're ready to post your own work. Exciting and slightly scary. You hope for good, positive, constructive feedback. You post your thread. There it is. It's in public view. It feels a little like going to a nude beach and even though everyone else is also nude, all you can think is that people can see your wiener! You pray that no one will be cruel. You worry that someone is going to point at your junk and snicker behind their hand.
But something even worse than that happens: nothing happens at all.
Your thread sits there. The threads of other members who posted around the same time are getting all kinds of play, the critiques racking up, the conversation lively and engaging and enviable. Nothing is happening in your thread. You start to worry. Is my writing so bad that no one will even point and snicker? Even a point-&-snicker right now would be better than nothing because at least that's a prelude to some kind of conversation.
What do you do? My advice is to check the technicals first.
1. Did I fix the missing line spaces between paragraphs?
Like it or not, members in all forums across the internet get turned off by wall-o-text. It's too hard to read on screen and yes, even this little finicky point will make members look for other threads to critique. It happens because the character that your word processor uses to denote a carriage return is different than the one used by online forums and doesn't get recognized.
2. Have I honestly checked the work for SPaG and random typos?
Posting a sloppy item for critique says volumes about you to a critic. Even the most expensive cut of meat can be ruined by poor preparation. What faith does a critic have in the "meat" of the work if the preparation is shoddy? It's also a visual distraction to the reader when they run across SPaG errors and punctuation issues. The read should be as smooth as possible so that the critic can focus on the actual writing, not errors.
3. Is my excerpt too long?
Very long items are daunting to critics. We do not have - and we're not imposing - any rules for the length of an excerpt, but history says that the 1500 word mark is a threshold. It's not that you can't get critiques for longer samples, but there's a steep dive after that mark where it's quite a bit harder to get them. If you feel that a longer item is a must to post because shorter just won't do, then make sure that everything else is spit-spot. Give a critic more than one reason to look elsewhere and it starts to look grim.
4. Have I given genuine, best-effort critiques?
All of us in this forum, and in any forum, know that everyone starts at the beginning. We all have a first critique that we gave where we didn't really have a clue what to do, maybe disagreed with the whole process, didn't grok or twig or anything. Members who are more seasoned know this and are very able to spot the difference between someone who is trying their best and just doesn't have much experience, and someone who sees the obligatory two (2) critiques per new item as a PITA and just wants to get it out of the way with something inane and vapid so they can post their work and brace themselves for the flood of ecstatic adulation that is surely coming. When we see the latter from a member, there's less positive interaction to make a member want to critique their work. When we see the former, we see someone who is trying and wants to learn the stuff and the terms and the smarty-pants things everyone else is talking about, and this member gives others positive interaction and reason to want to help them.
5. Have I explained too much?
Some members feel the need to give a long preamble in front of their posted item to explain things. A short preamble to let us know where we are in a novel excerpt is fine, but more than that is a distraction. The point of posting is that the work should speak for itself, and your critic is meant to tell you if it does or doesn't. A little lead in if the excerpt is from deeper in a work, but not more than that.
6. Is my post in a strange font, font size, font color?
Many writers have an inner Luna Lovegood. Some writers have her on the outside. She's a precious, affected little thing, and we all love her, but... When you post your work, it's your words that should be front and center. Now is not the time for artsy affectations in your presentation. Critics see this and know that your focus is not... focused. Posting your work like that makes it look like you're not taking the task or the goal seriously.
7. Are you arguing with your critics?
There's a fine line between defending one's work and flat-out arguing. When new critics come into a thread and see that the OP is defensive and sensitive about their work, they walk away. No one is going to put the time into critiquing an item just to have the OP fight with them. It's important to remember that nothing that happens in this forum is by obligation. No one here is an employee or getting paid. When your work is critiqued by a member, they are doing you a service. You are free to agree, disagree, or even disregard the words of others, but getting argumentative drives people away, or worse, attracts other argumentative people and in the end all you have is a debate thread and not a critique thread. Using the critique process as a way to hone your argumentative skills as to "how people are totally wrong about your writing" is a pointless endeavor. If/when you ever get published, you will have no access to the readers of your work to argue about how "wrong they are", and if you're not interested in hearing how people engage and absorb your work, you're wasting your time, and the time of others.
Keep these things in mind when posting your work. The dynamic that will come into play when you finally send your work off to a publisher is very similar, so now is the time to practice that regimen and have it become second nature to you.