Why Aspiring Authors Should Connect With The Writing Community by S.Z. Estavillo
Every author dreams of being traditionally published by one of the top five publishing houses. We dream of huge contracts, awards, and accolades but are often left with the reality that the road to publishing can be an arduous undertaking full of rejections. Moral support—the kind many writers need—isn’t always satisfying when only coming from family and loved ones.
Sure, it’s nice to have people in our corner that we grew up with or relatives that have our back.
But non-writer family members can sometimes be the wrong opinion to seek. Even writers in the family might not always be the best to turn to because of a lack of objectivity or conflict of interest. Their support might be enough to sustain us for personal reasons, but it isn’t what’s going to help us grow professionally. It’s more helpful to connect with fellow writers that can be objective about our strengths and weaknesses.
Benefits Of Getting Plugged Into The Writing Community
Many mentorship contests often pass on great writers. Like anything creative, judgement is highly subjective. Contests mean well and are there to provide opportunities for new writers to be discovered. But it can be discouraging when you’re on the losing end. Not being selected for some trendy writing mentorship contest isn’t the end all, be all. Many competitions are more of a marketing tool for existing authors trying to sell their books, with an added bonus if they can help other aspiring authors launch their careers. There are hugely popular Twitter pitch contests in addition to other competitions where writers submit their work and hope to get chosen. It can be life-changing if selected. However, aspiring authors shouldn’t rely solely on mentorship contests to find their writing mentors within the writing community.
We can’t wait around hoping someone picks us to play on their team. We must creatively find proactive methods of growing our own writing community. Finding mentors and even writing friendships can have benefits beyond forming lasting relationships built on a similar interest in writing.
· Accountability: Writing friendships can help you stay accountable as a writer and help push you to reach daily word count or editing goals. The road to self, indie, or traditional publishing can all come with challenges. Leaning on fellow writers can help.
· Objective Feedback: Grandma might have loved your space alien romance with lots of different plot changes, tons of characters, and 150k word count. But an objective and trained writer within the writing community might point out that your story can be immensely improved if you cut 50k words, remove unnecessary characters, and focus the plot to avoid a disjointed flow. Your objective writer friend can potentially help with readability as well as salability.
· Growth As A Writer: We don’t grow as writers surrounding ourselves with “yes” people. We only grow as writers when we allow our work to be exposed to the right set of eyes in order to improve our skills. Not all beta or alpha readers will read your genre. If your new beta reader buddy you just met hates science fiction and never reads it, then they may not be the right person to read your space alien romance novel. But, many writers, aspiring authors, and currently published authors do read a wide range of genres, and these are the types to befriend. We grow as writers by opening ourselves to the right constructive feedback and limiting the wrong ones.
How To Find Your Writing Community
· Connect on Twitter: Twitter has a huge #WritingCommunity that is by far the most powerful out of all social media channels. There are lots of aspiring authors that discover other writers to follow and support. It’s a place to build your online presence, too. I find Twitter to be easier in terms of building a fan base than other platforms. It’s nice to be on others as well.
· Join Facebook Groups: There are several Facebook beta reading and critique partner groups to join. There are also groups for debut authors for every year. So, a debut author having their book out next year might join a 2023 debut author’s group. Meeting fellow authors in your situation can help when sharing publishing journeys and marketing tips. Regardless of being published or not, joining Facebook critique groups can help you find people to read your work. Posting a synopsis about your story, the word count, genre, and what type of help you’re looking for can help group members understand your needs and how they can help you. Remember, beta reading and alpha reading are different, and so is being a critique partner. You’ll have to identify what you’re in need of the most.
· TikTok & Instagram: TikTok is one of the newer platforms that takes a bit more work to build a following because you must constantly create videos. Also, writers and authors don’t comment on the threads as much as on Twitter. Therefore, finding beta, alpha readers, or critique partners can be more challenging but not impossible. It’s the same with Instagram. There is a large community of authors on there. It might be enough to start following authors and writers and building a fan base even if you don’t actually meet writers you can swap manuscripts with. TikTok and Instagram aren’t platforms typically used for chatting back and forth with other writers. Usually, Facebook messenger tends to be the chosen tool for DM chats, but I have met one TikTok writer that wanted to exchange manuscripts. Instagram is the same way. It’s more of a platform for visual imagery and less used for DMs or lengthy chats.
· Paid Editing & Book Coaches: There are paid options when seeking out professionals that you wish to give you feedback. There are line-editors and developmental editors as well as book coaches. Facebook has editing groups you can join, where editors will post affordable rates. Some developmental editors and book coaches can be costly. It depends upon your budget what you can afford. There are professional beta readers that charge a fee for their beta notes.
Knowing which social platform to lean on can reduce wasted time and frustration. If you know in advance it would be easier to meet beta, alpha, or critique partners in Facebook groups and on Twitter , then it’s wise to go straight to those platforms first. You want to be careful to use DMs on all platforms wisely. Many writers and working professionals in all fields dislike DMs and see them as spam. But, social media can be a great tool for burgeoning writers aspiring to become published. No need to wait for a contest to land an agent or find your writing community. You can build your own support system by not only following other writers, aspiring authors, and authors but liking, engaging, and commenting on posts in a genuine, non-spammy way. Remember, like any relationship building a virtual fanbase and support system takes time but is totally worth the effort.