Online Communities for Writers

Why join a writing community? Support, encouragement, connecting with readers and fellow writers, and learning are my top reasons. When I first started writing I thought it would be fun and something I could do alone. Nope. Well, it was fun, but I’d isolated myself and therefore stunted my growth as a writer. I didn’t know where to look for people to read my work and had to wade through the endless Google searches and decipher who meant business and who didn’t. The persistent question of “who on earth will read my book and how do I find that person?” weighed on my mind. After I found people to read the darn thing, I found myself asking “how do I overcome these problems I didn’t know I had?”

In order to learn and be encouraged in our writing journey, we have to surround ourselves with people who are interested in the same things. There will be a few people who are discouraging, but that is the risk we take when we exist in this world. The fear that somebody might steal an idea is usually a concern for newbies. Just be judicious about how you share your work. When you do find somebody to share with, there are a few things you should know about the process. Read some of them here.

I wish somebody had handed me a list of writer communities when I first started, so here is a list of places I’ve discovered and a few I want to research before hoping in head first.

Continue reading

Writing Terms and Definitions

notebookThere are writing terms out there I never thought existed, and ones I thought I knew but didn’t. When I got into writing, none of these things mattered, but now I need a place that is not the corners of my brain to store this information.

I’ll update this list as I go, but here are a few writing terms to get started:
Agent

A paid middle-person who can represent a novel to a publisher and negotiate contracts.

ALPHA reader

A reader who sees the manuscript first, in its infancy. They are used to first and second drafts and can sort through the clutter, but it’s still best to clean up a little so the mistakes are not distracting.

ARC

Advanced Reader Copy. These are book copies for people to read right before the author or publisher releases said book. In this stage, the author encourages reviews for launch day.

BETA reader

A person who reads a manuscript in its final stages before the author approaches publishers or self-publishes. Unlike ARC readers, these ones offer feedback that will be highly considered in the next edit. Many people confuse them with Alpha readers, and it honestly doesn’t matter that much as long as people are up-front about their expectations.¬†See my handy list on how to get and maintain relationships with these readers.

Critique partner

A person to bounce ideas off of and who trades portions or entire manuscripts with the author. This person usually is a writer and will give and take advice.

Continue reading

10 Observations on Beta Reading

Open notebook

It’s your baby, and you’re letting somebody else tell you what they like and don’t like about it. Who does that to their children? The same people who know they must “kill your darlings”. Thank you Stephen King for telling us how it is. For many, beta readers are a must. For some, they are a waste of time. You get to decide!

I wish I had known a thing or two about betas when I first started this adventure. A quick internet search told me that betas read manuscripts and gave feedback. Well, that sounded fantastic! What I didn’t know was that beta readers are generally reserved for polished manuscripts. Alpha Readers are for that first read. Critique partners are for bouncing ideas off of and discussing your work. These definitions vary greatly, but if you want to get technical, I asked for the wrong thing at the wrong time. Yeah, I’d polished my manuscript. But I hadn’t actually done the restructuring a first draft needs in order to be anything but a first draft as far as plot goes. Furthermore, I found out how little I knew about self-edits.

Thankfully, two of my five beta readers were excellent critique partners, and they became great writer friends. They even put up with and participated in my awkward, sleep-deprived Facebook messages and accidental video calls. *Note to self: SLEEP IS GOOD. Take care of yourself.* Mind you, I’ve never done a video call before and would probably freak out if it happened for real. As it was, I frantically pushed all the wrong buttons trying to hang up.

Some things I learned about the process of matching up with people to read or trade:

Continue reading