There you sit, day after day, alone at your computer, trying to bang out 500 words or so because that’s what they say writers are supposed to do. It can get pretty lonely, even a touch depressing, if you don’t know where to turn for company, advice, or just the sound of a friendly and understanding voice. Well, the good news is that writing communities for self-published authors are everywhere—you just have to find one that meets your needs.
“For a lot of authors, the thought of publishing your own book can be daunting—about as attractive as doing your taxes,” says Carla King, founder of selfpubbootcamp.com. “That’s why it is so very important to cultivate a support group. I created a self-publishing group on meetup.com a couple of years ago when I moved to San Diego, and we are still going strong. You don’t have to be an expert to start a group—and you’ll be amazed at how supportive, upbeat, and positively brilliant some of your new friends can be.”
Social media guru Loren Kleinman also says that it is essential for indie authors to connect with other writers, not only for their mental health but for the success of their books.
“As an author, you never know where your support will come from, so why not get out there and start networking and helping each other out?” she asks, adding that authors can connect on sites like Twitter, Goodreads, indiereader.com, digitalbooktoday.com, and IndieBRAG’s bragmedallion.com.
Below, we list some other popular online communities where writers come together and help each other:
• wattpad.com: an online reading and writing community
• shewrites.com: an online community for women writers
• writersbucketlist.com: a blog network for writers
• rwa.org: a nonprofit genre association for romance writers
• kboards.com: a community forum for Kindle users
• writershelpingwriters.net: tools and resources for editors, writers, and teachers
Another way to connect with author communities is to pay a visit to your local library. Libraries often sponsor reading groups or writers’ workshops that might be just what you are looking for. And it’s always a good idea to get to know the librarians. They can be a big help when your book is finally ready to be published.
To make one-on-one connections with real live authors, also consider heading off to a major book conference—if that fits your budget. Not only will you have access to great speakers, you’ll also have the chance to chat with writers in your field—and maybe even start a lifelong friendship or two.
“Sharing information, marketing ideas, discussing what’s working and what isn’t can really help your career,” marketing expert Penny Sansevieri says. “As an author you always need to be learning. Book marketing and the publishing industry change every day. To be successful you need to stay on top of those changes, and going to all the events you can is a great way to do that.”
Self-publishing guru Joel Friedlander puts it this way: “Community support can, and usually does, make a crucial difference for authors—especially those who are new to publishing. Members of these communities have a wide variety of experience, so they are able to help almost any writer. From vendor contacts to tips on review sources to explaining production processes to just plain encouragement to keep on writing—the support of a community can be invaluable. My favorites, in addition to local publishing groups, are the many author communities you can find on Google+ and LinkedIn.”
When you decide to join these author communities, whether in person or online, the payoff starts right away. Your new pals can help you stay motivated, give you feedback on your books and ideas, and share their experiences—and best of all you will be building an audience for your book at the same time you’re making new friends. What’s not to like?
It takes a village to raise a child, and we believe it takes a community to publish a quality book. Who was it who said “only connect”? E.M. Forster in Howards End, I think. How right he was.
Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder and CEO of BookWorks.com.