Author Groups or Circles
Author groups or “circles” are small to large gatherings of “like minded individuals,” including in-person and on-line author help groups, readers groups, small support groups and masterminds.
Joining or CREATING a group well before you need reviews is mandatory. It is totally unacceptable to join a group one day and ask for reviews the next day. Join and PARTICIPATE within your group, give your support and feedback first before asking for help.
Because participation is KEY to your success in the groups, don’t join dozens of groups at the same time. Pick a few groups, decide which ones you like the best and start participating. When the time comes to ask for help, you will likely get MORE help if you have given help to others. In other words . . . pay it forward!
1. Local In-Person Support Groups
These are normally small and intimate groups of serious writers who meet weekly or monthly to help each other with critiques, advice and encouragement. I have several author friends who have belonged to a group for years. One local group started with one published author and seven hopefuls … several years later all eight members have a minimum of two published books and three of the members have books published by main stream publishers. The members were very serious about participation which includes countless detailed critiques, introductions to publishers, hand-holding, hugs and support when things got tough AND, celebrations including birthdays, holidays, new babies and getting published.
Ways to find local groups include:
- Create your own group using your city’s local meet-up organization.
- Create your own group by placing a classified ad (or get an article published) in a community newspaper.
- If there is a local university or college or night school organization that has writers classes either take a class to meet writers or get in touch with class instructors.
- Put up flyers any place where there are writing classes.
- Teach a writing class — ask your “better” students if they are interested in forming or joining a group.
- Attend any local writer’s conferences to see if you can find local groups.
2. Remote Support Groups
There are hundreds regional, national and international writing support groups.
Large large niche support groups include huge organizations such as the RWA or Romance Writers of America. This group is so large they even have city specific chapters! There are country specific organizations such as the Canadian Authors Association.
There are hundreds of small and informal authors groups or masterminds similar to the Local In-Person groups. These groups will communicate by phone, instant messenger, email or services such as Skype.
Google your city, region, country or specialty niche to find organizations you might want to join.
I belonged to a 6 person, video Skype mastermind group for three years. Each of us had a stated goal (publishing or writing) and every two weeks we’d report on our successes or failures and would ask for help. For example during one meeting a member asked if any of us knew about writing “white papers.” I was able to help with a list of books, resources and a short-course on the subject. That member went on to get three contracts for writing white papers.
Ways to find non-local groups
- Regional or nation writer’s conferences are an excellent place to find like minded writers.
For example if you write children’s books, attend several sessions aimed at your niche. Ask the presenter if they could announce your group or ask if there are any existing groups. Put up a flyer.
- Within larger formal organizations, join a chat group and start looking for a small mastermind you can join, OR create your own group. For example, if you belong to the RWA see if there is a chapter for your city and then find out if there are any local in-person meetings.
- Announce a group or ask for existing groups on your blog, your newsletter list, your Facebook, Twitter or other social media account.
3. YOUR Beta Readers Group
This will be (should be) ONE of the most important groups you create.
Some authors have a beta-readers group list in the hundreds. This gives them a real advantage in the publishing game because they will not only get great feedback on their books but will create interest in their books and get dozens of reviews within the first few weeks of hitting the publish button.
This of this as your ultimate goal. Everyone starts their beta-readers group at zero so don’t let that number discourage or stop you.
Start building your beta-readers group a couple of months in advance of your scheduled publishing date. Look for people who have been supporting your writing dreams. Contact them personally and ask them if they would like to be a beta-reader for your first book … and ask them what kind of feedback you would like.
Once you have a few personal contacts on your list … and when you have a beta-copy ready to go, you can also reach out on any of your social media channels, your blog and your email FAN list.
Create a newsletter contact list just for your beta-readers. This will enable you to contact and distribute beta-copies easily when the time comes. Create an email account JUST for your beta-readers. This will make it easier to keep track of incoming comments and other messages about your book.
A few days before you publish, let your beta-readers know the book is ready for publication. If you enroll in KDP Select, let them know what days they can download a FREE copy. Ask them for a review. FREE downloads are considered to be “purchases” and any reviews will be labelled as a “verified purchase.” I highly recommend at least one or two days of FREE as soon as possible for this very reason!
IF you don’t plan on having FREE days for several weeks, send your beta-readers the final copy of your book via PDF or kindle file and ask them to review the book. Because they won’t be buying the book any reviews given will not be a “verified purchase.”
Treat your beta-readers like the DIAMONDS they are! Be kind, polite, thankful and generous. NEVER react negatively to any suggestions they make NO MATTER how hurtful they may be. NEVER try to explain why you wrote something the way you wrote it. Consider carefully what they say and either make changes or not (it IS your book). IF you keep getting the same comments over and over and over again you can assume your regular readers will be thinking the same thing!
In his book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book, Guy Kawasaki talks about how he sent out a beta-copy to over 250 beta readers. He got back about 60 messages that included lists of typos, grammatical errors and factual errors. This saved him from major embarrassment AND helped launch his book with a BIG buzz!
4. Facebook Groups
There are literally hundreds of author, publisher, Amazon and Kindle oriented Facebook groups. Some are better than others.
You can use Facebook Groups in three ways:
- Create your own private (or public) group with the purpose of helping and sharing. One purpose for a private Facebook group might be for your beta readers.
- Join a pile of Kindle Facebook groups with the purpose of “blasting” out information on your new book.
- Join an established author group with the purpose of helping and sharing. You might have to join a few groups before finding one that suits YOU and your niche.
Read about the process Guy Kawasaki used to engage 250+ beta readers in order to edit, improve and then launch a new book.
This is a short but action oriented book on how to create your own group.