EK's STAR LOG
How valuable is a writer’s group?
As has been requested (endlessly) EK's Star Log is returning to the internet. You can still read the original archive here... https://eelkat.wordpress.com
The reason you couldn't find it is because I set it to private un-index mode, meaning it no longer shows up in Google search results and can only be accessed by a direct link.
Meaning, if you didn't have the url for it, no amount of searching for it would tell you how to find it. Anyone who had the url could still access it though.
I had set it to private September 23, 2013, intending to move each page here to EelKat.com... however, November 14, 2013, after only moving about 30 pages, I was beaten up and left paralyzed for 5 months, then spent 18 months relearning to walk. I am still crippled and have limited mobility.
Below is one of the blog posts that originally appeared on EK's Star Log. The original articles are still online but no longer indexed in Google. Links to the original article, are included with this post, as is the original posting date. Clicking the links will take you to the original site, where you can see the old Space Dock 13 website still online. Space Dock 13 as it looked when hosted on WordPress from 2003 to 2013.
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How valuable is a writer’s group?
Here's an old fan favorite. The original forum post got 173,000 likes, and resulted in a mass flood of traffic to my blog. Here it is, the original question I was asked, my original answer... and the forum troll's response, with my response to the troll.
~EelKat (May 28, 2017)
How valuable is a writer’s group if all the writers are unpublished other than self-publishing or unpaid outlets?
Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 | Comments Off
“HOW VALUABLE IS A WRITER’S GROUP IF ALL THE WRITERS ARE UNPUBLISHED OTHER THAN SELF-PUBLISHING OR UNPAID OUTLETS? WRITING STORIES THAT OTHER UNPUBLISHED AUTHORS ENJOY IS A FINE THING, BUT IS NOT EVIDENCE THAT THE STORIES THEMSELVES ARE FINE THINGS. ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS I FACE IS THE PUBLISHED AUTHORS (AS IN PUBLISHED BY A LEGIT, TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER) ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. THERE ARE LOTS OF SUCCESSFUL (DEFINED AS SELLING ENOUGH COPIES TO MAKE A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS) SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS OUT THERE. MY GOAL IS NOT TO IMPRESS OTHER UNPUBLISHED AUTHORS, BUT TO IMPRESS SOMEBODY IN A POSITION TO SIGN A CONTRACT OR WRITE A CHECK. IF THAT ROLE IS NOT REPRESENTED IN THE DISCUSSION, THEN WHAT IS THE REAL BANKABLE VALUE OF MY PARTICIPATION?”
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First off, can I point out that Joe Koranth, John Knox, and Amanda Hocking are all self-published authors, each of whom are bringing in MONTHLY incomes of $35,000, which means they are earning more per month than the average traditional published author makes per year.
Don’t know who they are? Google them.
And before you say they are flukes, consider that there is a huge difference between a hobbyist who self publishes 1 or 2 books in their entire life time while sitting on their tuffet waiting for sales, and a self published author who does this as a full time career, published 3 or 4 novels a year 5 or 10 short stories a month, and has a full team of cover artists, editors, and marketers helping them.
When you say the average self publisher is only making a few thousand dollars per year, I laugh. That’s not a self publisher. That’s a person with no clue how to run a business, who thinks slapping a single ebook up is going to make them a writer.
News flash: writers write.
Strange but true.
Writers write a lot.
Career writers who write for a living write several novels a year and several short stories a week and several non-fiction articles a month.
Writers DO NOT spend 3 years working on a single novel. Hobbyists with an outside career do that.
Yes, the average hobbyist makes only a few thousand dollars a year, if they make that much at all. However, the average traditional published writer earns $24,000 a year, and the average self publisher earns $56,000 a year. Average high end traditional publisher earn $120,000 a year, while average high end self publishers earn $400,000 a year.
Also remember there are those little self published books out there, you may have heard of them: Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Or maybe you saw the movie? Perhaps you bought your kids the toys? It was not only self published, it was self published by a 14 year old kid.
Never heard of it, well let’s think, bigger, more famous. How about Gary Gygax and his little self published set of books titled: Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook, The Dungeon Master’s Guide, and The Monster Manuel. Still self published to this day.
Or maybe Tracy Hickman’s self published book titled Ravenloft.
Don’t suppose you ever heard of Resident Evil, right? Self published books. Self published video games. It's even a self published movie. Who knew?
Still need a bigger one? Here’s one to knock your socks off, how about a little self published booklet with a set of cards that was titled Magic The Gathering. And in spite of being a multi BILLION dollar business today is STILL self published by a tiny little indie press known as Wizards of the Coast.
You might want to rethink self publishing. Seriously. When you start researching self publishing, you’ll find out fast that the biggest players in the industry are NOT the traditional publishers, but the self publishers.
And please, don’t confuse the full-time writers with people who write in between a full time job. They are apples and oranges. Full time self publishers don’t have time for a job other than writing.
But getting past that and on to your main question: Is there value in a group with unpublished writers? Yes, of course there is. We as humans learn best from other people’s mistakes, and who makes more mistakes in writing, than some one just starting out? New writer’s excel at helping other new writers to learn what not to do. Because new writers are so eager to learn new things, they are also very eager to warn others “don’t do this, I tried that and it doesn’t work”
But yeah, I can see your point. Self publishers who hang out on groups ted to be the hobbyists, not the career writers. As for the traditional writers, it’s usually in their contract that they can’t hang out on forums like this for fear they’ll embarrass the company. Thus yes, finding a place to rub elbows with the big boys is not an easy thing to do, and you will find yourself having to settle for every one else. But really, that’s not a bad thing, when you consider that the big boys started out small same as the rest of us.
As for impressing the guy with the check, it’s my experience (as both a writer and a publisher) that publishers do not hang out on the same forums as writers, and when they do, it’s not because they are looking for “new talent”.
I know it’s commonly said that getting your work out there is going to attract the attention of publishers, but this is simply untrue. I have been working in publishing since 1978. I can tell you right now that there is NO SUCH THING as a publisher who is searching websites looking for talent. Publishers receive hundreds of submissions a week, thousands more per year than they can ever get around to reading, let alone publishing. No publisher has either the time or even a reason to be “seeking new talent” on the web. So hoping to find “the guy with the check” in any online group is somewhat of a silly ideal.
Okay, so why join any group at all? Well, every group is going to be different, so really it depends on the group itself now doesn’t it? Me personally, I hang out on a lot of writer groups. The two you find me spending the most time on are NaNoWriMo and eHarlequin (as in the publisher of Harlequin Romance novels). Why? Because for me, these are the two I find most useful to me personally.
NaNoWriMo is a mixed bag. The forum is huge, one of the largest forums in the world (writer themed or otherwise) You get everything from grade schoolers to high schoolers brand new to the idea of writing to folks trying to get their first novel out to self published authors to trad published authors and even a few really big name authors, all cruising the forums together. This is also the ONLY forum I have ever found which has publishers and editors to be buzzing about as well. Every one is really nice and every one has advice for every one else no matter what the topic is. Over the years I have learned more about the art and career of writing from NaNoWriMo forums than from any place else.
eHarlequin is a different place entirely. The forums are small with only a few hundred people, mostly women in the 30s or 40s, all of them with a single goal in mind: to publish a romance novel with Harlequin. The forums are heavily modded, get this: by the publishers and in-house editors of Harlequin. Authors wanting to submit their work for review, submit samples right on the forum, and the heads of staff come on and give them public critics and reviews. The authors benefit from getting to know the publishers and editors on a first name basis and know what exactly they are looking to publish. I will point out here that Harlequin created this forum for the specific purpose of making their job of sifting through submissions easier.
Another place you find me is over at Wizards of the Coast’s forum. I am there because I am a Dungeon Master, and I am a player in 3 different Dungeons and Dragons groups, and I also write RPG game modules. I get info on what other DMs are looking for, what other players are looking for, AND as WotC is a tiny little indie press publishing house, I also get the chat one on one with the owners, publishers, and editors, as well as other RPG writers.
Now, based on your question, I think a group like eHarlequin or WotC is what you are looking for. I don’t know if other big name trad publishers have forums like this or not, but I would assume that if one does, than several of the others must as well. So my advice to you would be to figure out which publisher you want to publish your book, and find out if they have a forum on their website and if they do, join it and chat there daily, so that you have a better chance of getting in good with the person who signs the checks (that’s what Harlequin romance authors do). But other than publisher owned forums, you aren’t going to find check writers hanging out in very many online groups.
If you REALLY want to get in with the really big, big, big BIG name authors and publishers, than you want to join the professional associations. Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Western Writers of America, Writers Guild of America, Horror Writers Association, Dog Writers Association, Maine Writers and Publishers Allegiance, etc, etc, etc.
I am a member of the Romance Writers and also the Horror Writer’s one. There are several, every genre has one. Most every state has one. I know there is one for Children’s Writers, forget the name, but a quick Google search should lead you in the right direction. Those groups are where you are going to find the “more professional” authors. Just be warned, these groups tend to be more snooty that others, they are not free to join (some are quite expensive – as in several hundred dollars a year), most require that you ALREADY have published 2, 3, or 4 traditionally published novels BEFORE they will consider you for membership (and will often require you mail copies of your books with the membership check). The ones that do allow unpublished writers, tend to be far from friendly towards “newbies” and often members won’t take you seriously until you have been multi published. These are good places to meet agents and in-house editors of big publishing houses, but you may find the super snobby elitist attitude of members to be a bit out of your tastes.
Most big house publishers do have some sort of forum or FaceBook group at least, you might want to check out those.
Anyways. I hope that helps you out. And good luck with it.
EDITED TO ADD:
Moments after publishing this blog post I received the following message to which I have the following reply:
Jody Lebel • @ EelKat You are one angry person. Ed was talking about the value of joining live groups in his immediate area and the value for time expended, not to mention gas, for spending his limited time with self or non pub groups vs. pubbed groups. That’s all. Nobody is knocking self pubs. We all are in the same boat and start out the same way.
Nope. He does not mention live groups in his area.
He did not mention gas either.
His entire post is right there, go back and read it. You jumped through some pretty big invisible hoops to translate his words to mean live groups or gas prices. Wow do you have a vivid and wild imagination, not to mention a great flare for putting words that aren't there in people's mouths!
??? And angry?
There is no anger in my comment at all.
Where did you see anger?
I must point out to you that I have Autism and my ability to either feel or show emotion is limited at best. There is zero emotion at all in what I said here and if you see angry, I can only assume that you are reading more into what I have said, than what it is I actually said thus meaning that it is you who are feeling anger, otherwise why would you find anger in my words?
Perhaps it is my lack of emotion at all which you have mis interpreted as anger?
I do realize that non Autistic folks find it very difficult to comprehend the emotionless logic minds of us Autistic folks and often mistake lack of emotion as anger, however this response from non Autistic folks always baffles me, as I do not fully understand the concept of anger to begin with.
Perhaps it would help if you explained to me what it is you define anger as to help me than better understand what this thing you call anger is to begin with?
Any anger you see in my writing is purely your’s and your’s alone as there is no emotion at all in my writing, my writing, being quite simply a list of facts. If you see anger in my writing, it is because you yourself are angry.
If you translate an emotionless Autistic person, listing facts as that person being an angry person, it is only because you yourself are an angry person and therefore you see other as angry, because your own thoughts are filled with anger while you read these words.
Ask yourself, what in my writing triggered these angry feelings within you? Answering that question will help you out abundantly, both in your every day life and in your writing career.
I never said he was knocking self publishing. He does however suggest that self publishers are below his stature, because he states that he views it as a waste of his time to join a group where the members are mostly self publishers, thus why I pointed out the error of his assumption that self publishers are worthless no bodies not worthy of his wasting time talking to on groups.
I simply stated logic, facts, and hard evidence, all devoid of any emotion at all.
Are you suggesting that correcting an erroneous falsehood by stating the truth is therefor an act of anger?
I find the logic of your comment to me dreadfully confusing because you seem to be typing out of anger yourself, and are trying to say that I am angry because you yourself are feeling anger towards me. could you please explain the logic you have used to conclude that I am in any way angry?
Look at HIS question (which can I point out is in all caps, suggesting HE is himself the one who is angry?):
“HOW VALUABLE IS A WRITER’S GROUP IF ALL THE WRITERS ARE UNPUBLISHED OTHER THAN SELF-PUBLISHING OR UNPAID OUTLETS?”
He comes right out and states that HE does not think self-published authors have any valuable input. HIS words, not mine.
Look at the terms HE uses:
“ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS I FACE IS THE PUBLISHED AUTHORS (AS IN PUBLISHED BY A LEGIT, TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER) ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN. ”
He makes the claim that self published authors are not valuable... HIS words, not mine.
He makes the claim that self published authors are not “legit”… again, HIS words, not mine.
Look at what else he says:
“THERE ARE LOTS OF SUCCESSFUL (DEFINED AS SELLING ENOUGH COPIES TO MAKE A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS) SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS OUT THERE.”
The average “legit” traditionally published author makes $5,000 PER book, and has to publish 4 books per year minimum just to make PART-TIME MINIMUM WAGE.
On the other hand, there are THOUSANDS of self-published authors who are earning 6 figure incomes. And I listed quite a few of them in my answer.
How is me pointing out the error of his FALSE ASSUMPTION, but providing him with a list of ACTUAL FACTS, seen by YOU as me being angry?
Quite the contrary, it is me trying to calm down HIS vehement hatred of self-publishing, by pointing out that he really shouldn’t be knocking it before he tries it.
Don’t take his hatred of self publishing, his arrogance in thinking self publishers are low life pieces of shit, and translate that into ME being angry, when he is the one, ranting and raving all over the forum his out rage against self publishing (did you click on his profile to see his other posts today? I did.)
“MY GOAL IS NOT TO IMPRESS OTHER UNPUBLISHED AUTHORS, BUT TO IMPRESS SOMEBODY IN A POSITION TO SIGN A CONTRACT OR WRITE A CHECK. ”
He doesn’t even try to veil his arrogance and holier-then-thouness in this line.
I could have commented on his bitterness, his pride, his vanity, his arrogance, the fact that he came right out and said the opinions of self published authors have no value and that only trade published authors are legit and able to offer advice of any real value, but I didn’t, did I?
What I did was answer his question, by pointing out some self published authors he may have over looked in his research, and then answered his question on where to find forums and groups that ave editors and publishers hanging out on them.
I answered his question without bias, and unlike the rest of you, I actually told him how to find the type of writing group he was actually looking for: ones that are “valuable and :legit” by virtue of being inhabited by trade published authors, editors, and publishers, instead of ones like this one here where he seems to think no one but worthless illegitimate self published writers hang out.
I didn’t have to help him find a group like e was looking for, but I did. I could have been a forum troll like you and spewed out nothing but unhelpful snark and crass, but I didn’t now did I?
Is that what you are angry about? Angry that there there are actual people around here trying to help others rather then just bitching and moaning and starting forum wars?
Is that all this place has become to you? A place where only trolls are allowed? A place where real answers are not welcomed, because it’s more fun for people like you to put others down rather then lift them up?
It is you who is angry my friend. Just look at your own forum posts. I just did. I wanted to see what type of a person you were before I answered you and you, Jody, you like starting fights. You like snarking at people and getting wars started.
You know, me thinks, members like you are the ones he was referencing as being “not valuable” or “legit”… I mean really… would YOU consider a person who posts the stuff you have a history of posting as being professional, valuable, or legit? It’s no wonder he feels this place is not a good hang out for authors looking to expand their professional careers. He’s right, this place is full of low life forum trolls with no interest in expanding their writing careers because they are too busy looking to start fights instead.
I could have torn his question apart for the prideful arrogance it reeked of, but I didn’t because I understand his frustration of being a professional with a career to think of and having to put up with idiotic childish trolls that give a rat’s ass about their writing careers.
You want me to tear his post apart? Expose you miscreants for the jackasses you are? Let’s do that then.
My question is, WHY does a writer feel the need to impress others in his group?
Only an arrogant person would think they needed to impress someone.
Why can he just not write for the love of writing? Why must he feel the need to impress others?
This always baffles me, for I do not understand why Humans have the need to make attempts to impress other Humans. What’s the point? Why should it matter what any one else thinks of you or your writing? It makes no sense to me at all, the fact that he feels one would only join a writing group for the sake of impressing others.
It is my feeling that the purpose of a writing group is to try to expand your knowledge of writing, to learn from the successes and failures of others, to improve your work.
One does not go to a writing group to say “Look at me! Look at how great I am! Look at how wonderful my book is! Aren’t you impressed?”
That’s just plain silly. And arrogant.
One should be meek and humble and open to learning new things.
Just because someone is unpublished or is self publish, doesn’t mean they do not have experiences from which others can learn.
You join a writing group to LEARN NEW THINGS, not to try to impress others. His perception of what a writing group is, is seriously warped by his inability to see past his own vanity and pride. His pride will be his downfall. Vanity, pride, and foolish arrogance are always the things which take down the biggest, greatest of men.
By telling other writers they are unworthy of being in the same writing group with him, he is openly saying that he is better then they are, that he thinks they are worthless nothings. He is saying that he vomits out gold bricks while they can cough up drivel. And that’s not right.
No one should treat other people like that.
I mean think about it… would you really want someone in YOUR writing group, who sat around talking about how great he was and how worthless every one else was, because he was seeking traditional publishing, while they were just self published good for nothings?
and read the rest of that line:
“MY GOAL IS NOT TO IMPRESS OTHER UNPUBLISHED AUTHORS, BUT TO IMPRESS SOMEBODY IN A POSITION TO SIGN A CONTRACT OR WRITE A CHECK. IF THAT ROLE IS NOT REPRESENTED IN THE DISCUSSION, THEN WHAT IS THE REAL BANKABLE VALUE OF MY PARTICIPATION?”
He makes a very good point…
What value is HIS participation if he is too good to bring anything to the table?
A group is a give and take thing. You have to give a little to get a little. If he doesn’t want to share his experiences with others, then he SHOULDN’T be there. Who died and made him God, that he gets to be the only person in the group who gets anything without giving anything?
He made it very plain as day, that h only joins writers groups with the intent of pushing his manuscript in people’s faces to get published. He has no intention of wasting his time learning to edit his drafts, revise his manuscripts, or build better characters. No. He’s too good for that. He already knows more then every one else, so he’s not there to learn, he’s only there to market.
A writer’s group is there to help a writer, learn to write better. It’s not a place to market your manuscript. And he made it very plain, that if he can’t market his book then he doesn’t want to be there, because he already knows everything and has no need to learn anything new.
As for live groups, again you jump to conclusions, for he does not say this. He uses the term “discussion groups” which generally applies to online forums and FaceBook groups. You never here anyone say “discussion groups” in reference to an offline writer’s meeting.
Writer’s meetings, writers classes, writers courses… those are live groups you attend in your home town. He didn’t mention those at all.
If that is what he was talking about, he should have said so, but he didn’t.
If your assumption is true and he is in fact speaking of live groups, though this is not what he asked me, and I did simply answer the question as it was asked to me, I have Autism after all and reading hidden meanings into people’s words is not a talent I possess, perhaps I should than add to my comment that if he is in the local area, I head the Maine Charter of many of the groups I mentioned and he is more than welcomed to rub elbows with us “more professional” published authors.
I’m not a psychic like you apparently are. I can’t see into his head and know he means live offline groups. He didn’t say that.
Then again, your psychic powers are pretty off, considering you thought I was angry.
Now I suppose you’ll think I’m angry at you now. I’m not. I’m too busy laughing at how big of a fool you are making of yourself all week in your other forum posts.
Do keep in mind Jody that how you present yourself online is a reflection of your work.
Every text you send is a representation of your work, every misspelled word, every text-speech word, every verbal attack on a fellow writer tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.
Every email you send is a representation of your work, every misspelled word, every text-speech word, every verbal attack on a fellow writer tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.
Every private message you send is a representation of your work, every misspelled word, every text-speech word, every verbal attack on a fellow writer tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.
Every comment you post online, on blogs or forums, is a representation of your work, every misspelled word and text-speech word tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.
Every forum thread you start is a representation of your work, every misspelled word, every text-speech word, every verbal attack on a fellow writer tells the world you are an immature incompetent writer not worthy of publishing.
Next time you feel like attacking a fellow writer, an editor, or a publisher (of which I am all of the above) it might be in your best interests to find out who it is you are talking to first, and how detrimental that attack could be on your personal career.
As I said, publishers don’t visit forms looking for talent, but we do visit forums and will avoid publishing future manuscripts.
Remember who I am, what I write, and what I do to people who attack me online, Jody Lebel. I repost their posts on my blog, which has 170,000+ subscribers. And they're all gonna read it. And they'll repost it to their FaceBook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts and all their friends and their friends' friends will read it to.
An average of 3 million people will read this blog post by the end of the week.
Think about that.
Perhaps you should have Googled me, found out who the person behind the screen was, before you went cyber bully on them.
Let this be a lesson to you and those like you, to think before you attack next time.
A bomb blew up my house.
My car was cut in half.
I have a zero tolerance policy to bullies now. All bullies. Any bullies.
I don't make lemonade with life tosses me lemons, I rip off your balls and make testicle stew.
I'm tired of bullies bullying me and I don't sit back and take it any more.
By attacking me and other writers on this forum, you only give your own writing career a bad name, not only that but you give your publisher a bad name.
Yes, I looked up your profile. You are not self published and you have your publisher’s website boldly posted on your profile… the same profile that you use to post all these hate mongering troll attacks with.
Do you really think your publisher likes you giving them a bad name? You dragging THEIR name in the mud with all these forum posts of yours?
Think about it. What would your publisher think if they had a look at your posting history around here? Do you really think they’d extend your contract for another book?
Think about it... the things you said to me... how do you know I'm not YOUR publisher? You don't. Do you. You have no idea who I am. You just lashed out at me without thinking.
You never know who is on the other side of the screen reading your posts Jody. Do you REALLY want your publisher knowing what you do and say on this forum?
Your publisher is not going to want to publish future books with a creep like you who trolls online and gives their company a bad name.
And once they drop you… how easy do you think it’ll be to get another publisher? They’re gonna want to know why your publisher dumped you, and they won’t ask you, no, they’ll ask your last publisher.
You’re only destroying your own career on this forum.
You might want to take a look in the mirror once in a while, step back and see yourself as others see you.
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Posted in Ask a Maine Author, Ask EelKat, Getting Paid To Write, Make Money While RVing, Newbie Writers, self publishing, vanity press, Wendy C. Allen, Your Questions Answered
For Writers Looking To Get Trade Published
How To Act Professional
For Those Seeking To Better Their Writing
Say No To Bullies