Monday, September 14, 2015

The ABCs of A Writing Community

In light of the gathering writing community this week at ACFW!! An oldie but goodie!!

Pepper here.

I've always been impressed with the way the Christian writing community pulls together. I remember a conversation the Alleycats had at one of our get-togethers about what a unique group of individuals Christian writers are. In a highly competitive profession, where a large group of writers are trying to get their story in with a small number (and growing smaller) of publishing houses, we'd expect less friendliness and community and more isolationism and suspicion.

But no.

My experience has been one of the support, encouragement, and celebration.

In fact, Dawn Crandall (a writer I've never met) started reading my book two weeks ago and has not only given me GREAT pointers for publicity, she's also hooked me up with her entire Street Team of early readers! I'm serious. I received 30 FB messages in one day offering to be an influencer for my May debut.


And endorsers? Laura Frantz and Julie Lessman were quick to agree - even though I KNOW both of them are enormously busy. Julie Klassen gave me some tips. Carrie Turansky encouraged. And all along the way people have come alongside me (as I'm wading through this new pool of 'publication') to help.

So - what do you do to build your writing community?

Let's get to the basics. A, B, C.

Appreciation and Attend - I didn't start out with a writing community. The Writer's Alley was a grasp for community between a few newbies (Sherrinda, Casey, Krista, Mary, and me) But along the way, I began to come upon new contacts too - by showing appreciation and attending other blogs.

It's sad how many people show appreciation nowadays - and the simple act can make the best impressions. I think that's one of the reasons God talks about an attitude of Thanksgiving in the Bible so much. A thankful heart is attractive and welcoming.

Ruth Logan Herne once told me that 1/2 of the battle is 'showing up'. That's how you build community too. BEING somewhere! Seekerville was one of the first places I visited because of  author Mary Connealy's recommendation. (I'd written her an email to show my appreciation for her book, Petticoat Ranch) - the appreciation led to my attendance at Seekerville! And eventually to creating a daughter blog, the Writer's Alley.

Build and Bring - These two go hand-n-hand and carry the same connation as the movie Field of Dreams. "If you build it, they will come" - Well, building something worth reading is a key ingredient to growing a writing community. Whether it is your novel, short story, or blog, make it worthwhile and (I cringe here because I'm so bad at this) consistent. I've recently revamped my blog to make it a more consistent offering - something I can actually DO! 2 days a week.
So build something worth reading and it will bring the readers and community!

Collaborate and Cooperate - this is where we give back! Promoting and encouraging other writers or readers on the journey helps create a sense of community. It's a give and take relationship! It may mean something as simple as sharing their FB status to promote their book. Letting them know you're praying for them. Offering to be an influencer or endorser, or being willing to host them on your blog.

Cheering as a team is so much more fun than cheering alone.

So - what are some ways you build your Writing Community? What would you add to my list? Let's work together here ;-)

Pepper D Basham has been telling tales ever since she was a little girl. When her grandmother called her a “writer” at the age of ten, Pepper took it as gospel and has enjoyed various types of writing styles ever since. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and lover of chocolate, Pepper enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction wherever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC, where she works with kids with special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn and debuts her first novel, The Thorn Bearer, on May 7th 2015.


Pepper said...

Welcome to the Alley!!! Share in our community

Mary Connealy said...

Good morning ladies.
Love your story!

Thele said...

I am so happy to have found this blog.

Carrie Turansky said...

Cool blog, Pepper! I love what you had to say about community. Those relationships between writers are so important. I'm glad I could encourage you, and I can't wait to read your book in May! You are going places, girlfriend! : )

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Aw, Pepper.... sigh.... now I'll have to be nice to you for at least a day.

I'm not sure I can take THE PRESSURE!!!!!


But I'll try because you said nice things about me! (I've already sent payment, darling, just hold the check til Friday to be sure it clears, there's a dear!!!)


We write. And we keep on writing.

For something that simple, it kinda seems like it oughta be easier, right?


Pepper Basham said...

Thanks, Mary!!
So thankful you introduced me to Seekerville and the writing community!!

Pepper Basham said...

Welcome! We're glad you found us too! :-)

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm always surprised by the amazing support I find in this community! I love how Jesus shines through :-)

Pepper Basham said...

You are under no obligation to be nice to me.
Keeping your snarky self is JUST fine! :-)

And writing is essential - writing and remembering people along the way.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Great post, Pepper! I think we need to remember to reach out to as many different writing communities as possible. I belong to four different writing groups. I can't participate in all of them as much as I'd like, but I've learned a little from each one. Would you believe that I found *our* shared publisher (Vinspire) through the writing group I'm least involved in? Mystery Writers of America! My upcoming YA book isn't even a mystery, but boy did it pay off to be a member of that community!

It surprises me how some people are so hesitant to join a writing community. After a recent speaking gig, a woman approached me asking for advice about how to get her book in the hands of a publisher. I mentioned I'm a member of ACFW and told her about our local monthly meetings. She seemed completely uninterested even though she said her book was Christian. We need to be open to the writing communities God puts before us.

Iola said...

Well said!

Pepper Basham said...

Nicely written, Amy!
And I'm so glad to be with you at Vinspire!
Looking forward to your April debut!!