Writing Groups: The Good, The Bad, and The Business

Have you ever thought of joining a writing group?

Hang on – do you know what a writing group is? There are several different types:

  • Writing groups – authors hanging out together and typing away
  • Critique groups – examine each other’s writing for tone, style, clunky passages and moments of brilliance
  • Commenting groups – for blogging, usually, where you read and comment on each other’s blogs
  • Review groups – swap reviews on Amazon.com or other online reviewing sites

So, back to my original question: Have you ever thought of joining a writing group?


Here’s why you want to take a look at joining one or more groups:

Writing Groups

The Good:
Writing is a lonely business so it’s nice to get together with other people who are doing the same thing. It’s a lot like when I was in college and would head to a study room to work. I wasn’t studying the same subject in a group – like quizzing each other but rather working on my own stuff in a room of other people who were really focused. It always helped my concentration and focus.

The Bad:
These types of groups can quickly become a social event. Which is totally fine (and fun) UNLESS you’re really just there to work and everybody wants to chat. There’s also the challenge of hauling your materials to a location and hoping you have all your resources, research, and tools.

The Business:
Writing groups usually accept any type of author. They might not be the best place to make connections for clients or referrals but you can also be inspired by sharing a table with a novelist, poet, or playwright! Remember that the purpose of the group is to write – not to network so be respectful of the rules of the group.

Critique Groups

The Good:
It’s always a great idea to have somebody read over your work! Critique groups might focus on the technical aspect of writing (spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.) but they usually are more of big-picture view looking at flow, rhythm, tone, plot, etc.

The Bad:
When you’re picking a critique group, it’s easy to fall into a group of writers who aren’t experienced. While I believe that everyone has something to offer, if you’re years down your writing training road, you might not get a lot out of a group filled with college students. Try to find a group with a mix of wanna-bes, trying to break ins, established authors, and career writers. Also look for a mix of ages – you’ll get a better perspective on your work. Also be wary of groups who ONLY tell you everything is wonderful – that doesn’t help you grow as an author.

The Business:
You may or may not find anyone who understands writing non-fiction. But, you also might find people who can give you excellent advice about publishing: both traditional and self-publishing. You also might find somebody who can introduce you to people who’d fit you “ideal client/reader” who would be willing to be beta readers.

Commenting Groups

The Good:
Having lots of comments on your blog is always a good thing! Your readers leave valuable insight, give you ideas, and show your blog is active. Plus, you get to read a bunch of different blogs you might not have otherwise. I’ve picked up clients, referrals, and affiliates through being in commenting groups.

The Bad:
Getting comments that don’t add much to the value of your article always sucks. Commenting groups can also take up a lot of time: reading, figuring out how to comment, leaving a thoughtful comment, etc.

The Business:
If you find a group of other bloggers that are similar to what you write, the group is invaluable! You can make really great connections that can help you when you need a referral. I’ve picked up clients, referrals, and affiliates through being in commenting groups. Widely different blog topics can be a challenge when somebody’s writing a business blog, another is about crafts, one is relationships and the last is about motherhood. If you can, find a group of other bloggers who all write in the same genre as you.

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Review groups

The Good:
You can get your book or eBook reviewed on Amazon. And reviews can absolutely impact sales! Most of the time, a reviewer will offer a 4- or 5-star review or explain why she isn’t able to rate it that high. Sometimes you can actually read the review before it goes live.

The Bad:
You have to provide a review copy – which can mean money out of your pocket. Plus, there’s no guarantee that your book will actually BE reviewed. Some review groups aren’t exactly scrupulous so it’s a 5-star review in exchange for a 5-star review; it doesn’t mean that either book is deserving of 5 stars!

The Business:
Review groups will review any type of book – which means that the person who agrees to review YOUR book may have zero experience in your genre. Be wary of any groups that require you do give a 5-star review; not every book is that good. This is a great place to jump-start the reviews on your book

How do you find groups?

Facebook is a great place to start! I’m in several commenting and review groups and have had good success.

For writing and critique groups, I suggest MeetUp. You may also want to check with the English or Creative Writing departments of your local college. My area also has a Professional Writers Group so keep an eye on the “events” section of your local newspaper.

Kim Galloway
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