Well, it hurt. One guy was very thorough in picking out the worst aspects based just on the chapter listing, and even through the pain I can tell his ideas were valid and it's given me better ideas, so I know it's a good thing.
Another guy in the crit group gave me some interesting comments I asked him to expand on and when I happened to say I was self publishing he was very forward in emailing back telling me not to. I explaiend the situation and he gave me a big (usual) spiel about how if I made it so much better no agent or publisher would be able to resist it, all very light and fluffy in practice but it just sounded like someone who's read too many Writing manuals and has little real world publishing experience.
Partly to galvanise it in my own mind, but mostly to assure him I wasn't a disgruntled undiscovered genius rebelling against the small thinking agents and publishers who'd passed on me, I had to point out that with a global recession publishing's a shadow of it's former self and if you're not called Brown, Rowling or Meyer you have little chance of being looked at.
On top of that Australia's the end of the world when it comes to publishing. On top of that it's science fiction, which Australian publishers haven't touched with a barge pole as commercial suicide for more than a decade, and on top of that it's 200,000 words, which no publisher would touch.
The poor guy was under the illusion that quality in your manuscript is all you need. Having shed all those illusions is the readon I'm doing this.
Anyway, he was very lectrue-y, and after the trouble I've had with the whole thing so far, I wondered if it might be time to tell them all to forget it and pull the plug.
I've actually read a few shorts by a lady in the other group by mistake, but she's really good and I offered to keep reading for her on the side. She said she'd be willing to read Falling time permitting, so if that works out I might have a critique partner out of the experience anyway.