It makes sense to keep to one critiquing model and the houses have been very quiet recently. However I will be sad to say goodbye to them as I learned a huge amount from sharing my work here on Litopia and the high quality critiques I received. I also reckon I learned at least as much from reading other people's critiques as I did from giving and receiving critiques myself. So thank you to the houses and I look forward to seeing how the new groups evolve.
As I understand it, The Houses were haunts for writers identifying with a particular genre/market to get feedback from all and any other members of Litopia. Some were sure about their target market, some less so. Some were anxious about revealing/sharing work in progress, even in a semi-private online place.
The writer's groups will be project/book centred, groups created by individual writers for focus on a WIP, and the writer also controls the audience and reviewers for that project.
There are two roles – Writer and Reviewer. The Writer is totally in charge – s/he creates the Group, and can invite one or more Reviewers into it. I expect that many Groups will consist of only two people, but more is possible. And of course, you can create a Group, work on the feedback, and then create another Group for the same project a little further down the line, for more feedback, from other Reviewers.
It’s much more flexible. There is no bar to entry, as there was in the original Houses system (which pretty much mirrored the publishing industry as it was then). And the overwhelming emphasis is on developing powerful, effective writing. Whichever route to market you choose, traditional or self-pub, it’s the power of the words that really counts with today’s reader.
So... more of a laboratory, less of a beauty contest.