Online Writing Groups and Forums: a New Writer’s Best Friend

Being a veteran author I get a lot of mail from readers and writers of all backgrounds. I receive a lot of mail from aspiring writers especially. I recently received many emails asking the same question: “I need help with my manuscript. Where do I get it? Can you help me?”

I explain to newbies all the time that published writers are not able to critique others’ work due to legal conditions as well as most of us barely have the time to finish our own work, let alone critique someone else’s. Yet, I hate leaving aspiring writers in the cold so I wanted to create this article for those just starting out who do not know how important online writing groups can be for new writers seeking publication and looking to better their craft.

Below are reasons why aspiring writers should not ignore online groups. I suggest that a writer become a regular on at least three writing groups of their choice. These are the benefits:

Writing Groups Can Lead to Publication

Writers’ groups are the home to many newbies as well as published authors, publishers, agents, editors and publicists. These are all people that all aspiring writers should get to know. Being in a writer’s group puts your name “out there” and you are getting familiar with important people in the industry. This could lead to publication in the long run. You never know whom you meet in a group and how they can affect your career. Although agents and editors do not look to the net specifically for finding new talent, they do offer their expertise through many groups and this is priceless to any new writer. A foot in the door could make the day of any aspiring writer because no matter how talented you maybe when it comes down to it, it’s about whom you know in the end.

Can’t Afford A Freelance Editor, Join a Writer’s Group

Joining a writer’s and critique group is wonderful if you know your manuscript needs editing and you can’t afford to pay a freelance editor. Most writing groups allow you to post chapters online for editorial advice. Some boards even allow you to upload an entire manuscript for these purposes. You can get feedback from published authors and agents themselves without paying an editor. Some new authors are frightened about people stealing their work. You shouldn’t be. This is an attitude that stops most writers from getting much needed help. I wouldn’t suggest you post your work on just any site. There are many respectful writing sites, which require users to log in or register before posting. If you are truly afraid of someone walking away with your work then these sites are your best bet. Also, Yahoo writing groups are good if you’re paranoid about your work being stolen because most of these are private groups.

Query Letter Advice

If there is one thing that all writers need advice on then it’s query letters. It’s funny that writing a query letter can scare even the best of us just starting out. Writers no longer need to be afraid. Writing groups were constructed for this very purpose. This is the perfect place for you to post your query and get free, line by line advice. It’s is absolutely true that a few critiques from a writing group can get you a contract with an agent. It happens everyday.

Friends and Colleagues

The hardest thing for a writer to accept is how solitary the writing world can be. It can seem even worse for a new writer who just doesn’t know where to go to meet someone like them. Writing groups do not only put you in contact with experts in the industry, but you can meet other new writers as well. This will build up your confidence. It makes it much easier when we see someone on our level, striving to do exactly the same thing we are. Writing groups can build wonderful friendships as well as enhance your career. You can never have too many friends in this business.

You Can Choose to Participate or Not

Maybe you’re the shy type. Maybe you’ve had bad experiences with forums and would rather not post on any. Lurking a writer’s board can enhance your career just as much as participating in one. The great thing about these boards is that most of them are public with the exception of some Yahoo Groups. You can troll and lurk all you like and if this is better for you, you’ll be able to pick up all the information comfortably. You can also email other writers in private if you prefer.

I don’t believe that new writers understand how serious writer’s groups are. They are not only a place to socialize but they do help writers with their goals each day. It has been proven that since the popularity of Internet interaction has soared, writing groups are responsible for guiding more than 50% of new authors on the right path. This includes educating them on contracts, finding agents, and searching publishers and the craft of writing. Every new author should make writing groups an important part of their career. This is a wonderful educational tool that you cannot refuse to ignore.

There are many writing groups on the net. Below are two of the most popular and two that I know for a fact have helped writers become published and successfully find agents.

Writers.Net- this is one of the most popular and respected writing boards ever invented. WN is different from many boards because it actually puts you in contact with industry professionals. WN is the only board that I’ve witnessed where agents and editors post frequently. A new writer can meet published authors and actually post questions to reputable agents and publishers of all magnitudes. WN is also one of few boards that is the home to famous writers who post in the group anonymously. Believe me, it’s true. On WN you never know whom you are speaking to so keep that in mind. You could meet the person who furthers your career. Also, WN is very good at giving in-depth critiques in the Writing Craft section.

This is definitely a board you should consider joining. But be warned this board is not for sissies. You must have a very thick skin. WN offers a no-holds-barred attitude with instruction and advice. Most of their members are veteran authors with years of experience. If you are seeking genuine expertise, this is the place. WN has helped many writers become published authors. WN is not the best group for socializing and making friends. They seem to have a very high turnover rate and most newbies never return, proving that many can’t take the straightforward, yet valuable criticism of the group. So, if you’d prefer a more laid back group then I suggest you try the group below.

Absolute Write- this board offers wonderful interaction for all types of writers. They provide critiques and they showcase interviews with well-known agents and publishers to give writers in-home advice. They are also a great board for warning new authors about scams such as shady self-publishing and POD companies you should avoid. They also help writers decide what type of publishing method is best for them. AW presents a more family-like atmosphere than WN but they do not lack anything in professionalism. The atmosphere is very friendly and unlike WN they do have active moderators. They do not accept flaming and will ban a disruptive member in a minute. This is another group you should definitely join if you’re new to the game. I admire AW because they are very outspoken when it comes to presenting news to authors about shady companies. For example, if you’re a Publish America or Tate Publishing author, you may not find AW or WN as your favorite places, LOL. Both groups are completely against any company that seems to take advantages of new authors and they are not afraid to let it be known.

Aspiring writers can’t afford to ignore these outlets. There are millions of online groups for new writers to receive help but you must take advantage of it. I consider it lazy when such free and valuable advice is at one’s fingertips and they do not use it. I suggest you do a search today and join a writing group of your choice. You will not regret. The worse that can happen is you become published or land an agent. Can you afford not to take the chance?

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Source by Stacy-Deanne

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