by Edie Melson @EdieMelson
I remember what it was like when I was just starting out as a writer. I thought it was something I wanted to do. I even felt like it was something God called me to do. It’s an exciting time—a time when we’re trying on the moniker of writer.
It’s also a time when we’re deciding exactly how big a commitment we’re going to make. We evaluate how much time we’ll spend an how much money we’ll invest. And it’s rarely an all-ahead-full sort of decision. I took it one step at a time. I would try something, evaluate the results and then readjust.
It was about the time of my first few forays into the writing world that I discovered this writing thing can get expensive . . . fast.
There are books to buy, organizations to join, classes and workshops to take, even conferences to attend—all without a single bit of profit to support these investments. My budget was limited and I had to make some judgments about where to spend my money.
Today, after many years in the business, I’d like to offer some guidelines on where and when to spend your money. It’s not always a straight-forward answer, but I’m going to try to cover most situations.
Which Organizations Should I join and Why
I’d say one of the most valuable ways to learn about writing specifically and the publishing industry in general is by joining organizations. It’s important that you don’t just concentrate on learning to write, but you also need to know the process of publication so you can begin to earn money. Here is what I suggest.
- Find a local group. Good places to look are local libraries and bookstores. They will often have a listing of any local writing groups. You can also do a search online. I know it’s not always possible to find a local group, but that’s where I always recommend you start.
- Find an online group. There are many excellent national groups that have an online presence. I’m a member of several. Here are some I can recommend:
- ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers): is for Christian fiction writers. The membership is reasonable, starting at $50 per year. It also offers lots of benefits to members, including free online classes from publishing professionals, a national conference, and an email loop where you can ask writing related questions.
- Word Weavers International: This is a great critique group option. They have local groups, as well as an online presence. This group was developed over years of experience in what works to help new and even more advanced writers.
- SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators): This is specifically for those who write for children and young adults.
- ASJA (American Society of Journalists & Authors): This is specifically for the non-fiction writers.
- RWA (Romance Writers of America): This is a national group for romance writers, and ACFW actual was formed from the membership of RWA.
- NWU (National Writers Union): I’m not a member of the national freelance writers group, but it’s a reputable group and I hear good things about it.
- NWA (National Writers Association): Again, I’m not a member, but this is another reputable group that I hear good things about.
So which of these choices should you make? It depends, in a large part, on what you want to write and where you want your career to go. I recommend you start local, if possible, and look for recommendations.
If you don’t have a local group, you can often find communities of writers through writing blogs. There are a large number of regular readers here and they will be more than happy to give recommendations about this sort of thing.
Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent fiction – Alone, and nonfiction – While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She’s the the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.