On-line writers’ groups

Many of the books I have read on the craft of writing advise on the benefits of belonging to a writers’ group. Within said groups, writers present their first drafts for feedback and workshopping.

Sometimes there just isn’t one, or if there is, their personalities or genre interests don’t match with your own. In these cases, there are on-line writing communities, forums for presenting first draft through to polished versions of partial or complete manuscripts.

There are many sites out there, and I have only tried a few, workshopping early chapters of The Songs of All Poets. These are now much improved from the first first draft versions. If it weren’t for my copyright concerns, I would be posting all my work. Who doesn’t want a beta read, structural and copy edit for free? You pay with your time, providing reviews in kind.

The three sites I am active on are Authonomy, Scribophile and YouWriteOn.

Some of these are private member-only sites, and others are more accessible to general readers.

You may ask why three?

I get different things from each. Scribophile is the most helpful in obtaining in-line edits. There is no agenda, and people read your work to improve it as well as their own. This happens on Authonomy and You Write On, of course, but these sites dangle the elusive promise of a publisher (HarperCollins, Orion, Random House, etc) critique for top ranked ‘books’.

One issue I am coming across with these types of sites is whether posting a few chapters of your rough work constitutes ‘being published’ – a potential barrier to gaining a publishing deal or submitting work for competitions.

Has anyone any experience where this has been a problem?

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