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Are Writing Groups Valuable for those wanting to further authoring careers?

I’ll speak about writing groups at several levels in the next couple of blogs. First I want to address my own long-time associates’ get-together.

The Writers’ Table of Indianapolis is a group of ten people, men and women, who meet for lunch once a month at a centrally located restaurant in our town to talk about their careers and writing issues both locally and nationally. It has been in existence since the early 1990s and is invitational, limited to ten. Supposedly these are people who make their living by writing. (That we sometimes chuckle at.) When someone leaves town or quits (which doesn’t usually happen) another writer in town visits and may join.

It has been especially important to me through these years. I was proposed originally and went as the guest of Bill Powell, who was a national free lancer and biographer of the Duponts of Delaware. He also had a successful promotional business in the central part of the state. Bill had become aware of my series of novels, the Heartland Chronicles and had provided a positive blurb for Lords of the Rivers. I was glad to be invited to join.

The group has a variety of long-time area writers. A couple are professional editors and most have a series of books they have published. One member is the author of many books on Jewish custom for children and adults and another is a general children’s book author. A couple of our people have written well respected biographies. The director of the Indiana Writers’ Center has won national awards for her young adult novels. One works in both English and varieties of Chinese language.

What do we talk about in the two hours we are usually together? National trends are important. What is Amazon doing in the way of royalties? How are the author’s guilds functioning and are they helpful? What is self publishing doing to the book industry?

Individual experiences are shared and questions can go like this: “Have you changed your agent recently? Any advice about that?” “What are the new books in this town?” “How are you promoting you book at bookstores and beyond?” Shared stories of pitfalls and successes can get detailed and interesting and can give us all new ideas. The mentioning of good opportunities makes us take out paper and pen and jot down ideas.

If a member has a new book, it is an occasion for celebration and we toast the new book baby with champagne.

We have become friends, valuable ones at least in my case. These are contacts to call upon when advice is needed for graphics excellence in our area or fine editors I can recommend to those who call here and whom I can’t serve. These people can be counted on to look for opportunities for other members for giving speeches, having book events, expanding business opportunities and recommending contacts.

Most of all, it is wonderful to value these people as personal friends. When only two or three attend, which does happen with these busy people, we drift into personal conversations, especially the women, about home, children, grandchildren. I value these a lot but see that when the men return, they want to stick to the sharing of writing.

Times are changing and we all wonder where our group will go. With all the electronic contact we all utilize, is meeting at a restaurant to share a meal and ideas and friendship still valuable?

So far the answer is yes.

Nancy Baxter is the senior editor at Hawthorne Publishing and author of 11 books. To see them, click back to the Hawthorne Publishing website.