Are you a card-carrying member of a writers’ group? Well, actually, most don’t issue “cards,” per se, at least not the ones I know. Or, maybe, I just didn’t get one . . . hmmm.
But you SHOULD be a member. Of a group, somewhere. And there are many to choose from:
Some meet weekly; more often, once a month. Some only have events once a year, maybe twice. Others have different things going on each month. These, of course, are usually live groups versus Internet hangouts, which also have value.
And it’s important to belong to at least one—which of course depends on your needs—because writing is such a solitary pursuit. Although, if you were to look at my FB newsfeed (or maybe your own), you might think otherwise. Huh.
Writers’ groups have different purposes: to critique, to encourage, to provide a sounding board, to be social, to showcase members’ work. Which one(s) you choose is up to you. But, um, be choosy. It’s not quantity but quality that counts.
You want an active group(s). One(s) that give value. And, preferably, one(s) whose members have some talent. You know what I’m talking about . . . there are those groups who are filled with SPAM—and not only online groups . . .
Speaking of writers, another topic I want to briefly touch upon is this:
Stop marketing to other writers!
What? Yes, you heard me. Those “like for a like events” that promise more “likes” on FB? How many of those folks actually read your stuff? Don’t ask me, I have no idea. Sure, there’s value in networking, but be particular about who YOU follow. Twitter, too, can be a real SPAMfest.
In other words, the numbers don’t matter unless they translate into relationships or sales. Either/or.
You need to spend your time marketing to READERS. Pick your “ideal” reader and aim your promos to that one person—others, just like that ONE person, will soon find you.
Think about this:
You go to a conference, and an author shows you his book; he says he’ll buy yours if you buy his. Sweet—you got a sale! No, you didn’t. It’s a ploy, albeit an unknowing one. In effect, you traded books. Do him a favor: if you WANT TO READ that book, buy it. And review it, of course.
Which brings me back to the beginning—writers’ group(s) are essential for networking and feedback and socializing, but don’t make it a book exchange.
Great post, Robin. It’s tough to find a group that doesn’t turn into a spam group (the one we’re both in on FB is the best I’ve found – no spam, nice people, and good discussions). Even in real life I’ve run into groups in which every time I move, I’m faced with another “hard sell.” I didn’t come to buy – or to sell! I came to socialize, network, and learn!
When I was first published I was very strongly encouraged to gather as many friends and followers as possible on both FB and Twitter. I’ve spent several days lately reducing those lists. If I can scroll through my friends list and not even remember seeing a person’s face or name before, there’s probably no reason for us to be FB friends.
Thanks! I don’t mind almost anyone on my personal FB page, maybe they’ll pick up on something and go with it. But I have an author page for a reason – to post things author-related, for other writers. I STILL don’t do the like/like thing, though!
I agree with Melinda, great post, Robin.
Let’s say a mutual admiration society is just that, a group for ‘mutual admiration’ and socializing can be great…. and certainly an effective writer’s group should be more than just a tacky and questionable venue for self-promotion, “FB liking” and such as does happen.
When I think “writer’s group” I think “Encouragement, inspiration, help and even advice when required” . Being with a group of helpful, confident writers, who are also knowledgeable, competent writers without low self-esteem dulled axes to grind –is a good thing; Socializing and developing true friendship can be tremendously helpful.
The problem is that not only does ‘book-exchange commerce” become involved, but even the simple act of mutually critiquing work can subtly evolve to become a “narcissistic exchange” which is not beneficial at all, and worse yet, creativity can easily be snuffed by huffy disapproval of style, storyline, etc. if personalities and ideas clash for any reason, skill level, beliefs, creativity, or __________(fill in the blank, whatever your choice)
‘ Choose your group well’ is likely the solution, just as we choose our friends.