Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Business of Writing: Engaging with the Writing Community

I’ve been exploring the business side of writing the first Wednesday of each month. Today, I decided to address the topic of engaging with others in the writing community. Engaging with others has been an extremely powerful piece of my writing experience. The community includes but is not limited to other writers, editors, publishers, and agents.

Thank you Google Images!
Let’s consider this in the light of other lines of work. If I were planning to open a restaurant, I could learn a great deal about the process from the internet. But I will learn what it takes to be successful by studying under someone who has already navigated the waters. I can seek a mentor or business partner. I can assemble a team to help me launch the business. The same is true for authors. We need those connections with other writers, editors, publishers, and agents to learn the ins and outs of the business side of writing. We also need those relationships to help us hone our craft.

I’ve had editors of periodicals give me tips on submitting articles for freelance publication. I’ve learned more about writing by working with an honest critique group than I ever could have by taking a creative writing course. And the woman who edited Breathing on Her Own? Working with Bethany Kaczmarek was like having my own personal trainer. She pushed me to produce my best work and build my writing muscle.

One of the most powerful ways to engage with other writers is to participate in a writing group. When I first took on the challenge to become a published author, I looked for a writing group in my area. There are a few. Two fit in with my work schedule. The first one I visited was…uh..different. I didn’t feel I fit in with the “candle glow” activity and the “sharing rock.” The beaded curtain between the entrance and the “gathering room of creativity” should have been my first clue. I next contacted a group meeting on the university campus. The folks there were nice enough and they were all about writing. Writing fantasy. It isn’t that I have anything against fantasy. It simply isn’t a genre I read or know much about.

The answer? I started a group in my home. I gathered a few other people who liked to write and wanted to improve. We met and though the group was relatively small—we eventually maxed out at six—it was a powerful team of writers. We worked hard and a few of us published work emerging from that group setting.

When I moved to another state, I discovered online critique groups and Facebook based writing groups. I still participate in some of those groups. I’m part of 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook as well as groups formed through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Through them I have met editors and writers from a variety of genres. I’ve found support, forums where I can pose questions, and online chats covering a wide variety of subjects. In one of the groups, I’ve been able to connect with beta readers and have reviewed works of others in the group.

How are you connecting with other writers? What benefits have you found through those relationships?

And if you’re new to the business of writing, what plan will you make to engage with others in the writing business?
Thanks Google Images! I get a kick out of you!

NOTE: Portions of this post were taken from The Writing Handbook series (working title).

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