Saturday, September 2, 2017

On-Line Writing Groups: Should You or Shouldn't You? It Really All Depends....

Should you or shouldn’t join an on-line writing group? Good question. Personally, I think joining one is a good idea. For support. For encouragement. For an opportunity to promote yourself and others. To exchange ideas with other authors. Writing is such an isolated career one often forgets that there are others in the same boat. In the end, of course, it all really depends on the club. Here’s why I say it all depends. Watch out for these red flags and then, decide whether or not to join that on-line writing group that sounds so good. First, do they charge a fee to join? Big red flag there! Yes, some writing groups may offer you some fantastic benefits, but is it worth the membership fee? Is the membership fee actually collected and labeled as such when you go to pay? I joined one on-line writing group where the membership fee was labeled, “Donation” when I signed up to pay via PayPal. BIG RED FLAG. I questioned it and was told, they “messed up when opening the account and clicked on donations instead of fee and never got around to changing it”. ANOTHER BIG RED FLAG. In fact, as it turned out, every fee from contests to blog tours to more were labeled as “Donations” not fees. Is the group on a paid or free website page? If it is a paid for website page, that would sort of justify charging a membership fee, right? If the website page is free, what are you paying for? It better be for some fantastic membership benefits, right?

     The on-line group I joined had a big red flag: It’s called the “On-line Writing Group by Santa Claus. Website”, which, of course means the page is free. Wix and Word Press among others offer this option. You get the free web page with their name on it. Is the club big on promoting to readers or for more recruits? Do they have fundraisers and ask for more money because they “say” they need it? For what? Why would an on-line writing group on a free web page need any funds? Good question? Do they promote you and your writing to readers, or just to other members? Are their activities geared toward access to readers, or just to other members? I was part of one Back to School Blog tour that was aimed at bringing in other members to visit my blog, which of course, after that visit, no one ever returned. Silly me thought the purpose of an author blog tour was to bring in readers.
      Not so. When I questioned the club’s President, she said it wasn’t. Point blank. The “lottery” that was held during this tour in which I was to award prizes to visitors turned out to be won by guess what? All the “random” winners turned out to be other club members and no one else, though I had invited others outside the membership to visit. One winner was even a club Board member who fortunately never claimed the prize. Good thing because I wasn’t going to award a club board member a prize. I saw nothing ethical about this, though the club President was quick to point out that “there was nothing wrong with it”.

     I received my renewal notice in the middle of May. I thought hard about it and then, in the end decided against renewing. I sent my concerns off to the club President: How I felt about the club giving nothing back. No one reciprocated and more. In reply, I received an immediate cancellation. No apology. No trying to retain my membership. Nothing. All this went in line with the way I watched this club operate. As long as you did what they wanted when they wanted, you were in. When you questioned their practices, the President took it personally and told you off. No way to run a club, is it? Learn from my mistakes. Watch out for those groups that take all you have to give without giving you anything back. Watch out for those that charge "membership fees" to join. I joined two on-line writing groups last year. I paid for the privilege in more than one way. I learned a great deal more than I thought I would, too. Sort of soured me on on-line writing groups. Those that have BIG RED FLAGS showing anyway.

     All this leads back to the original question, Should you or shouldn’t you join an on-line writing group? If you live in an area that doesn’t have a physical writing group, as I do, and doesn’t have any red flags, I say why not? A writing group offers comradery and an opportunity to promote you and your writing, as well as helping out other writers. As long as there are no red flags, why not? The choice is up to you, but choose wisely. I wish I had done so, but that is another post. 

     Thank you all for visiting with us. It’s always a pleasure to meet readers and authors. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book and pass it on. Leave a review. Reviews are important for authors. Believe me. I know. Thank you!

S. J. Francis, Writing is my passion, but animals are my world. 
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, and supporting writers, et al.

In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from Black Opal Books and for sale at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers. "Some secrets should remain that way."

                     Shattered Lies is a Finalist in the 2016 Wishing Shelf Independer Book Awards.

                     Shattered Lies is a winner in the Fall 2016 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Book Awards for Women's Fiction. 

                     Shattered Lies is a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Best Book Award Competition.
                     Shattered Lies is a 2016 Reader's Favorite Honorable Mention in the Fiction - Women’s category.  

                     Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.

                     Shattered Lies was chosen as General Fiction Official Selection in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards.

                     The 2nd, new book cover design for Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 2016 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 

                     The first, original book cover design for Shattered Lies was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Authors dB Best Cover Contest. 

My Black Opal Books Author Page:
       A Book Review 4 U:
      A Consumer's View:
                  One for the Animals:


             Good Reads:

And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2017 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.

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