Back when I first started out in the writing community, I remember perusing the acknowledgement sections of published books. It seemed as if all the big-name writers had critique parters/beta readers who were published authors themselves (Holly Black and Cassandra Clare come to mind). I recall saying, "That's not fair. They had published author friends who helped them get agents/editors! I don't have any published author friends!"
A presenter talked about a similar experience at LTUE this year. We both believed that, in order to be published, we had to find beta readers who were already successful. Over the years, I've come to realize how wrong I was. Those critique partners did it together. They started out a group of unpublished, unknown writers, and one by one they found agents, editors, and signed book deals. Already one of my betas (Liesl Shurtliff)(who is also my favorite person ever and I miss her a gajillion)(she made me add that after I added a modifier for Taryn)(am I good at parenthetical abuse or what?) has a book deal, and my beta reader (and FAVORITE PERSON EVER)(she made me add that) Taryn just signed with an agent. Slowly but surely, we are moving forward.
So here I am today, with my unpublished, unknown critique partners. And I have the utmost confidence that we are going to do this together (cue bad High School Musical reference). Someday, readers will be able to look through the acknowledgments of my books and recognize the names of my critique partners and betas. And they'll say, "It's not fair! She had published authors to help her along!"
2012 is ours, blogosphere. We are the next generation of YA/MG authors.
So.......yay for us!