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

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me
  • D: You know what type of article I’d love to see from you?

    1. A list of GOOD online writing communities: I’m always recommending the Holly Lisle courses and community, but listing some others would be great.
    2. This is a BIG WANT: a listing of BASIC writing courses, that aren’t run by hacks and crackpots, to which I could direct those few writers who come my way that actually recognize that they need a CW101 course. I find that most can’t afford Gotham Writers (usually $300-ish per class, for the online fees). Do you know of any great BASIC Writers’ courses that are affordable? I don’t mean the more advanced stuff–interlacing beats with narrative with dialogue–I mean the fundies. Show, not Tell, and all that good stuff.

    Whatcha got?

    • Those are great ideas; I can totally write those. Will do soon. 🙂 Most of them are probably local, but I’ll bet there are some good online video courses or something. Mostly I think writers should learn story structure, I just posted a free self-editing course with a list of books I recommend.

      • Thanks, Big D. I get a lot of clients and people that ask for help/beta reads, that need everything–learning beats, dialogue, EVERYTHING. I need courses that speak to every level of hopeful writer. I’ll be looking for that post.

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