Have you ever thought of joining a writing group?
Hang on – do you know what a writing group is? There are several different types:
- Writing groups – authors hanging out together and typing away
- Critique groups – examine each other’s writing for tone, style, clunky passages and moments of brilliance
- Commenting groups – for blogging, usually, where you read and comment on each other’s blogs
- Review groups – swap reviews on Amazon.com or other online reviewing sites
So, back to my original question: Have you ever thought of joining a writing group?
Here’s why you want to take a look at joining one or more groups:
Writing is a lonely business so it’s nice to get together with other people who are doing the same thing. It’s a lot like when I was in college and would head to a study room to work. I wasn’t studying the same subject in a group – like quizzing each other but rather working on my own stuff in a room of other people who were really focused. It always helped my concentration and focus.
These types of groups can quickly become a social event. Which is totally fine (and fun) UNLESS you’re really just there to work and everybody wants to chat. There’s also the challenge of hauling your materials to a location and hoping you have all your resources, research, and tools.
Writing groups usually accept any type of author. They might not be the best place to make connections for clients or referrals but you can also be inspired by sharing a table with a novelist, poet, or playwright! Remember that the purpose of the group is to write – not to network so be respectful of the rules of the group.
It’s always a great idea to have somebody read over your work! Critique groups might focus on the technical aspect of writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) but they usually are more of big-picture view looking at flow, rhythm, tone, plot, etc.
When you’re picking a critique group, it’s easy to fall into a group of writers who aren’t experienced. While I believe that everyone has something to offer, if you’re years down your writing training road, you might not get a lot out of a group filled with college students. Try to find a group with a mix of wanna-bes, trying to break ins, established authors, and career writers. Also look for a mix of ages – you’ll get a better perspective on your work. Also be wary of groups who ONLY tell you everything is wonderful – that doesn’t help you grow as an author.
You may or may not find anyone who understands writing non-fiction. But, you also might find people who can give you excellent advice about publishing: both traditional and self-publishing. You also might find somebody who can introduce you to people who’d fit you “ideal client/reader” who would be willing to be beta readers.
Having lots of comments on your blog is always a good thing! Your readers leave valuable insight, give you ideas, and show your blog is active. Plus, you get to read a bunch of different blogs you might not have otherwise. I’ve picked up clients, referrals, and affiliates through being in commenting groups.
Getting comments that don’t add much to the value of your article always sucks. Commenting groups can also take up a lot of time: reading, figuring out how to comment, leaving a thoughtful comment, etc.
If you find a group of other bloggers that are similar to what you write, the group is invaluable! You can make really great connections that can help you when you need a referral. I’ve picked up clients, referrals, and affiliates through being in commenting groups. Widely different blog topics can be a challenge when somebody’s writing a business blog, another is about crafts, one is relationships and the last is about motherhood. If you can, find a group of other bloggers who all write in the same genre as you.
You can get your book or eBook reviewed on Amazon. And reviews can absolutely impact sales! Most of the time, a reviewer will offer a 4- or 5-star review or explain why she isn’t able to rate it that high. Sometimes you can actually read the review before it goes live.
You have to provide a review copy – which can mean money out of your pocket. Plus, there’s no guarantee that your book will actually BE reviewed. Some review groups aren’t exactly scrupulous so it’s a 5-star review in exchange for a 5-star review; it doesn’t mean that either book is deserving of 5 stars!
Review groups will review any type of book – which means that the person who agrees to review YOUR book may have zero experience in your genre. Be wary of any groups that require you do give a 5-star review; not every book is that good. This is a great place to jump-start the reviews on your book
How do you find groups?
Facebook is a great place to start! I’m in several commenting and review groups and have had good success.
For writing and critique groups, I suggest MeetUp. You may also want to check with the English or Creative Writing departments of your local college. My area also has a Professional Writers Group so keep an eye on the “events” section of your local newspaper.