What’s that writing community really worth? (Is there any value in paying for group membership?)

Author community membership group

I often see writing communities or forums online, and wonder whether I should sign up. They might only cost $25 a year. But will I get any value out of it?

Here are some things to judge:

1. Look at the other members, if you can.

Track them down. Are they successful? Do they have a polished platform? Are their books selling?

2. Who are the founders and organizers.

Track them down. Are they successful? Do they have a polished platform? Are their books selling?

My beef with online communities

A lot of online communities are full of amateur authors or writers, who don’t know anything about publishing, book design and book marketing. That means, everybody is struggling with the same issues, but nobody in there can tell them what they’re doing wrong or how to fix it.

You probably need professional advice and help – and you aren’t going to get it in a writing community. There are exceptions: I’m part of a few that do have bestselling authors in them (and not the accidental kind either, who just wrote a book and it became a bestseller with no work, so they don’t know what they did right). For some of those communities, I pay $300 a year or more.

But there are advantages

The biggest one being emotional support. If you are frustrated or stuck or pissed off, you need peers that are at your level and can sympathize with you. You need to vent. Being a writer is lonely. Being able to chat with other writer peers who are working in the same genre and dealing with the same problems is priceless.

If you don’t already have something like that, find or start your own. That being said… a lot of website forums aren’t what you need. Find a Facebook group, it’s faster and easier.

Also – some websites get a lot of traffic. If you are in the membership, do you get featured? Do you get links to your site? That could easily be worth $25 a year in boosted traffic. But use similarweb.com to find out if they get any traffic. Same thing if they allow guest posts or have a big social media following. Is membership gonna make them likely to share your content? That could be worth it.

Finally – if may be worth it if they are well-esteemed and you can put their badge on your website (as long as it isn’t really ugly).

But keep in mind: the most important thing will always be your book cover, your book, and your Amazon page – communities offer support and feedback, but will rarely be as critical as they need to be (they won’t tell you, “That cover sucks, you’ll killing book sales, you need a new one”.)

So fix the things that matter before you sign up.

 

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book editor turned book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors write and publish bestselling books. FREE GUIDE: Sell your work without selling out.