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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Writer Support Groups: The Why and How

As much as we love our friends and family, they often don’t get it when it comes to our writing careers and ambitions. They don’t know what it’s like to receive rejection after rejection on our queries, or rejection on requested material. They don’t know what it’s like to navigate the confusing world of publication. They don’t know what it’s like to read a review of your book that tears your heart to pieces. This is why support from other writers and authors is so important for your sanity.

There are a number of ways to develop a support group, the majority involving social media. One group I’m in started out as a Twitter conversation between myself and a friend. Someone else we know jumped in, and we started talking about forming a group of debut authors (who meet a specific criteria). The group had a number of goals:

•    Provide a shoulder to cry on when needed.
•    Help promote our books (like a street team).
•    Share our personal experiences when it comes to the industry and when it comes to marketing.

The additional benefit of the group is that we’ve developed friendships, and at the Romantic Time Convention last week, those of us attending were able to get together and not feel so alone. This is a big perk if you happen to be an introvert and the idea of meeting new people at a conference gives you a bad case of hives. Some of us even beta read for other members of the group. We’ve become like an extended family.

You don’t have to form a group like this to benefit. Facebook has tons of writer groups that you can join, though they tend to be a lot larger and not have the same benefit of a small group. But before you join, know what you’re looking for in a group and determine if they are the best group for you. There are some groups that don’t have a lot of interaction, and are more like sites for self promotion. Other groups have strict rules to limit spam. I belong to a large group on Facebook that focuses on New Adult stories. It’s amazing how many people join just to promote their books. And it’s equally amazing how fast the administrators (including myself) cut them from the group if they’ve ignored the guidelines. We’re all about interaction and members helping each other with questions and concerns. And we’ve noticed that those authors who promote their new releases and regularly interact with the group are met with greater enthusiasm than the authors who don’t contribute to the group and suddenly come out of nowhere to promote their new release. Just something to keep in mind if you decide to join such a group.

In addition to writer groups on Facebook, there might be groups in your city you can join. These are great if you prefer face-to-face interaction, rather than online interaction. If you’re a member of parent organization (e.g. Romance Writers of America), check to see if a local chapter exists in your city.

Do you belong to any writer groups? If so, do you find them helpful?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN (Carina Press, HQN) is now available. LET ME KNOW (Carina Press) will be available Sept 1st, 2014.


Kassie Kay said...

This is fabulous! You're right-- as much as our family loves us, they don't really "get" what we're trying to do when we write with intentions to publish.

I have a few author friends on Twitter. So glad I have them. Haven't published yet. But when I do, I know I'll have questions. And they are the ones I'll probably go to. :)


Michelle Athy said...

This is pretty timely for me, as some online writer friends I have formed a pretty casual writer's group. We chat in a chatroom and so far, the meetings have been fun and loose and really good to talk issues we're having or whatever.

G.R. LeBlanc said...

I can't help but imagine how incredibly difficult and lonely it must have been for writers before Internet and social media.

It took me a while to warm up to Twitter, but now, I absolutely love the writing community there. There are so many neat things going on like the #mswl stuff and all the pitch contests. It's a great place to hang out with other writing professionals.

Great advice, too, Stina!