How to Meet Other Writers
Last week we wrote about finding your audience tribe, and speaking directly to them when you write your book. Equally important, but for different reasons, is the idea of finding your author tribe. That is, finding some small group of like-minded writers that you can rely on for support. Even at the best of times, writing is a lonely business, and the pandemic that looks to finally be coming to an end (knock on wood) has only served to amplify that problem. But now that things are finally starting to get back to normal, there is no better time to start looking for a group of people that share your passion for writing, understand what you’re going through, and provide the support and encouragement we all sometimes need.
So if you’re ready to start looking for your own tribe but unsure where to even begin, have no fear! Bestselling crime and women’s fiction author Gywn GB is here to show you the way.
Ernest Hemingway famously said, “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” It’s very true, as writers we spend a great deal of time inside our own heads, but there’s nothing better than finding other writers with whom you can talk about your favorite subject: books and words.
I also think it’s essential that you do seek out other writers. Some of us are lucky to have very supportive partners, family and friends, who understand our ‘need’ to write and the highs and lows of the process, but there’s nothing like a fellow writer to just ‘get it’ when you’re having one of those “It’s all rubbish, why did I even think I could write a book” moments. Yes, we all have them, even authors who have been writing for years.
The other reason to find fellow writers is to learn from each other and provide practical advice and support. I am one of The Blonde Plotters, there are three of us (yes all blonde) who are a mix of traditionally and independently published authors. We help each other out in so many ways, passing on information, emotional support, re-sharing things for marketing—you name it. And the most important thing? Through writing we have become the best of friends.
So how do you find your ‘tribe’?
I moved to a new area and looked for a group that I could join in order to meet like-minded people, but the writing groups that existed seemed to only be in the daytime and for people who viewed their writing as a hobby. At this time I was still working full time, but writing in my spare time hoping eventually I would become a full-time author. Quite apart from the unsuitable timing of the meet ups, I wanted to meet other writers who were serious about their author careers, so I started a group myself.
Setting up a writing group can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. I reached out to the local arts agency, who were happy to lend a meeting room, but if you’re not intending to get in any outside speakers, it can be just as easy to rendezvous in a café or wine bar, or someone’s home.
To find members, I contacted the local newspaper, and they ran a story, and I put some posters up in the library and bookshops. Before long, we had a group of around fifteen of us. We put together an anthology of short stories and we had some excellent speakers until eventually time became too constrained and I had to give up the organization of it.
If time is tight for you, then don’t worry about outside speakers, just meet up and chat. The important thing is to ensure the members all have a common purpose. It might be primarily to act as a critiquing group where you can get constructive feedback, or it might simply be to just hang out with people you can talk about writing with.
It was from that original group and the events we held that I met the other two Blonde Plotters. One good thing led to an even better one.
Pandemic aside, if you simply can’t meet up with people locally, whether that’s because you live somewhere remotely, are disabled or have very small children/care for someone else, then the next best thing is an online group.
If you want to arrange it yourself there is all sorts of technology to help, but again you need to decide what your purpose is and who your target authors might be. Some people are less comfortable with new tech than others. You can try anything from Facebook’s new Messenger rooms, or the brand new Roomkey, to Zoom meetings, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams meeting, and good old Skype.
If you don’t know who you want to meet with and are looking for fellow authors, then joining some of the existing Facebook groups is a great way to meet people. If you are traditionally published, does your publisher have a private group for its authors? If you are indie, then joining groups such as 20Booksto50k will put you in touch with others in the community. Then there are the genre specific societies, such as the Romance Writers of America, or The Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. Look for your genre and your country-specific grouping. There are some, such as the International Thriller Writers, which are global. Plus, if you’re indie published, you can also join organizations such as the Alliance of Independent Authors, which holds online events and has lots of opportunities for you to interact with other writers. Whatever your specialism, simply search on Facebook and in Google for the keywords you are interested in.
The next step once you’ve found your group is to just chat away. It won’t be long before you connect with like-minded people and that relationship can grow into a more direct one as you get to know each other. Or, you can put a call out for anyone in your locality. You’d be surprised how small the world is.
Providing help to fellow authors is a great way to build relationships. Perhaps you could offer to host interviews with them on your own platforms (text or video), or to do newsletter swaps. Using services such as BookFunnel’s newsletter swaps can connect you with people who you don’t already know and start that relationship. Or why not review books for other authors and put those reviews onto your social media and website, as well as Amazon and Goodreads etc. Hosting your own book club is another way to give back to fellow authors and these will also be great content and suggestions for your own fans.
Events and courses
Writer-focused events are a great way to meet like-minded people, as too is going on a writing course or writers’ retreat. Authors are often quite reclusive and can find it difficult to approach new people so you really do have to force yourself out of your comfort zone, but it can be really worth it. If you’re really shy, then prepare some ice-breaking questions before-hand, or wear something unusual that you know people will want to ask you about. Likewise, volunteering at book/literary festivals, is another way that you can meet other authors, and if you’ve got a job to do, it’s easier to interact with people and help you make that first introduction.
Goodreads has plenty of groups and discussions which you can join in. Plus, there is of course social media. Look on Twitter and Instagram for other writers. Search for hashtags such as #amwriting, #writingcommunity and for specific times that people post such as #WritingWednesday and take part in #FollowFriday, building up relationships with other writers. Share their posts, interact with them and assuming you’re not targeting a very well-known author with a huge existing following, then they will notice you and hopefully start interacting back.
Good luck with connecting.