The Surprising Benefits of Writing Communities for Authors
Post written by guest writer S. A. Crow. This post is the first of a two-part series focusing on writing communities.
In the first post of this series we examined how to identify the appropriate writing community for you. But what do you do now that you've discovered a community or a few, aside from making friends and checking out the links shared by others? In this post I will examine how belonging to a writing community can benefit you in surprising ways, such as by helping you find writing buddies, being a place to network, and by offering information about the publishing process and industry.
A Place to Find Writing Buddies
According to the dictionary, a community is a group of people having a particular characteristic in common, a feeling of fellowship with others, because of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. People in a writing community have the common goal of writing (and publishing). By being in community with other writers you can learn more about the craft and how to publish your work whether through traditional or independent publishing avenues.
Beyond the usual group interactions, there are several ways that you can partner with your community writers to benefit your writing:
- Ask if the community offers an accountability partner, critique partner, or writing buddy program. Writing buddies and critique/accountability partners are fellow writers with whom you can exchange opinions and brainstorm ideas. Additionally, they can challenge you by asking how your project is going and holding you accountable to your writing goals.
- See if anyone in the group could be a sensitivity reader for your work. What is a sensitivity reader? Someone who ensures that an author accurately depicts a group of people. Perhaps you need assistance writing from a female or male perspective. Or you may have written a character who is LGBTQ+ when you are cis and want to ensure that you’re portraying the LGBTQ+ experience accurately. Sensitivity readers who belong to an ethnic or cultural minority can also provide services related to those groups.
- Authors always need alpha, beta, and ARC readers. Alpha and beta readers read a manuscript and provide feedback on structure, characters, plot, subplots, pacing, believability, and more. This feedback can be hugely instrumental for a writer’s revision process. ARC readers read advance reader copies and provide honest reviews before a book is published.
- Critique readers are an incredible resource. Regardless of whether you share your work, see if your group has critique reads. Critique readers help by sharing their input and impressions.
Writing communities can help you better your writing through accountability, adding and learning about adding representation of “the other”, and getting readers to give you honest and varied feedback on your work before publication. It’s likewise an excellent place to get an insight into how other authors write.
A Place to Network
The next way a writing group can benefit you is by being a place to network. The dictionary defines networking as interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contracts. If you want to publish one day, you’re going to need some skills besides what you do with composition. Some suggest talking to people who've published and learning from them. Ask questions, take workshops if the community offers them. Even if you get published, you’re going to need to learn how to manage your time and develop many other diverse skills. Many members of the community have already been where you are and have tips and tricks you can learn from them.
Writing communities are a wonderful place to ask and learn from other authors how to manage your author brand and social media marketing. Ask how members handle social media and their writing life. Network with members on projects like social media takeovers, guest blog posts, and more ways to benefit each other. Whether you are (or are hoping to be) a traditionally published author or an independent author, you will have to learn and handle all or some of your own marketing, whether for your author brand or books. For most authors this is a steep learning curve. Ask for ideas and often people in the community will be happy to share tips and tricks.
Some groups also run workshops on marketing for authors, so keep an eye out or ask if your community offers these workshops.
A Place to Learn about the Publishing Industry
A writing community can be a great resource for learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry. It seems like genres are evolving daily and book cover design goes through seasons like clothing. What are some nuggets of information a writing community might offer you?
- How to pitch to agents both on and off of Twitter.
- The Amazon algorithm.
- Pen names.
- Publishing scams to watch out for to keep you and your intellectual property safe.
- Tips and tricks for publishing independently.
Sure, you could research all these topics yourself by pulling up Pinterest or YouTube and searching away. But wouldn’t you rather receive information like the above from a companion, someone who can sit with you as you navigate these twists and turns of the industry that is writing? I did and I’m pretty confident you do, too. An author is an owner, CFO, public relations and marketing department, and IT department rolled into one. Get as many tips and tricks from your community as you can.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the surprising ways a writing community can help you. I’d love to hear of other ways you’ve been helped or supported by people in your community.
Note from Katie and Andrew: We run a writing community! Join us!
S. A. Crow is an LGBTQ+ author, writing coach, poet, and Indie author living in Arlington, TX with her lovely partner and two odd dogs. If she isn't writing, she's reading a good book. Age is just a level of experience, play to the end. Book 2 of The Fire Series is due out Spring of 2022. You can find and follow her on Instagram at @crowshirley.
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