What can a writing community do for you?

True story: I am not a writer unless you count my blog posts on Booktango or my occasional lengthy Facebook statuses. However, I do know a lot of writers, and I am lucky enough to get to speak directly to some of our authors. The one thing I hear a lot is that authors write in solitude, alone, in the quiet. Perhaps that is when the best ideas come to them or maybe they are afraid if they share their ideas or stories, someone might steal them. Whatever the reason may be, I’d like to suggest writers look for feedback during their writing and publishing process.

Who better to give a writer feedback than other writers, or better yet, potential readers? Well friends, good news! There are tools out there to help you with just that.  Writing communities offer several options to interact with others, share struggles, provide insights or ideas. The best part? Almost every (good) community has guidelines and terms of use that protect the writer from their work being copied or against really abusive feedback.

Who should join a writing community?

I should offer a fair warning: seeking feedback in a community is not for the thin skinned. You will get honest and direct feedback from others. You are all there for the same purpose, to write your best book, so why hold back? If you are easily hurt when someone gives you constructive criticism, you might want to be a community observer for awhile and check out how other books are being reviewed or how the community interacts in forums.

Follow the rules

There are some general rules of most communities, and you should be a good community ‘citizen.’ In other words don’t be selfish. Communities are about helping each other. If you want others to review your book or provide feedback, expect to reciprocate the favor by doing reviews and participating in discussions to help others.

Next, don’t be a lazy community member. If you provide feedback, take the time to read what the author is looking for in feedback, read the full post or book and be specific. Saying “it’s a good book” really doesn’t help an author. Tell them specifically what you liked or didn’t like. You’d want them to do the same for you, right?

Finally, be respectful. It is completely acceptable to provide direct (and sometimes painful) feedback. However, it is unacceptable to do any name calling or to launch a personal attack on the writer themselves.

Finding the perfect fit for you and your book

Does all of that sound like something you can handle? Great! So now where to go? There are a variety of writing communities out there each with their own strengths. For Booktango authors, every package includes a trial subscription to the Author Learning Center. ALC allows you to interact with other authors through author circles in addition to proving you access to a plethora of education and informative webinars and tools. For young writers or those writing for young readers, check out Figment or Wattpad.  If you are a genre fiction writer, head over to Book Country.  If you don’t want to post your book for review but like the idea of having conversation about your book, check out Absolute Write.  Finally, if you prefer to meet face-to-face, look for local writer’s groups or communities near you on social media or Google. You’ll likely find something that fits your style!

Ironically, while preparing to write this blog post, I spoke to my friend and colleague. She had written a very similar blog post, Writing in a Vacuum: Why Community is Essential to Writers, about six months ago, so I invite you to read her insight as well.

What do you think? Is a writing community for you? Can it help? Let us know below in the comments!

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