Monday, July 7, 2014

Writing Services

Abe Lincoln said, "Don't Believe Everything You Read on the Internet."
I inadvertently stumbled on a site offering seminars, critique services, retreats... You name it, this with the Utopia for writers and the website looked great! When I saw the organizer's / presenter's name I was very surprised. I knew this individual. And I knew this individual had been writing for less than a year and a half. In fairness, I haven't spoken with them for a while so perhaps since I worked with them, they've absorbed the knowledge to charge other writers for their services. But still, I wondered how many people would be handing over their money if they knew how little experience this individual had.

There are hundreds of writing classes and editorial services for writers. These can be great opportunities to refine your craft or to get your work in the best possible shape before you start querying agents. I've had the pleasure of working with a few and LOVE LOVE them. These mentors not only provided detailed feedback on my manuscript, but through their critique, they taught me to be a better writer. But before you spend money on an editorial service, seminar or manuscript critique, you might want to keep a few things in mind.

Don't let a professional looking website sway your decision. Seriously, the days of crappy sites being tell-tale signs of an unprofessional are long gone. Many domain services have user friendly programs and affordable website design services. Remember, you don't have to be a full-scale, non-profit organization to take a (dot)org domain.

Is this individual's work something you enjoy and have any of their clients experienced success? Testimonials are great -- but the proof really is sometimes in the pudding. Don't be afraid to ask questions.  

There are also awesome groups out there that have Writer Beware sites that track and expose questionable activities and / or scams in the writer industry. Here are a few:

Of course, before you pay for a service, get your work in the best possible shape you can. That way you can really get some bang for your buck. Here are some great ways you can do this.

1. Join a critique group. Other fellow writers like yourself are a great source for cleaning up your manuscript. If there's not a group in your area, start one. Ask local librarians and book store owners if you can put up a flyer. If there aren't enough writers in your area, establish an online writing group. You can find other writers at great sites like Absolute Write and Twitter.

2. Join a professional organization that fosters a community of persons within the industry. There may be an annual fee but that typically includes a magazine subscription and / or online resources, member discounts on conferences etc. I've been a member of SCBWI since 2010. One of the best decisions I made when I began writing.

3. Can't afford to go to a conference but want to participate in one? Look for online conferences. Children's writers should check out WriteOnCon. It's awesome and it's free; however, please try to donate what you can. 

4. Make connections on social networking sites like Twitter. There are great opportunities out there. Writer blogs that are dedicated to helping writers make connections and improve their work. Again, beware of anyone asking for money -- these are typically free. There are too many for me to mention here, but a few of my favorites include Brenda Drake and Cupid's Literary Connection 

Through organizations and communities such as these, I've met mentors and even some of my amazing critique partners. And as I wrap up this post, I have to give kudos to my very first mentor. Joyce Sweeney is AMAZING. Seriously, not only is she an extremely talented teacher, but she is one of the kindest people I've had the pleasure to meet. I strongly recommend her services -- you will not be disappointed.

photo credit: ucumari via photopin cc


  1. It's sad how many scams are out there targeting writers. Thank you for posting those links, all very good resources. So nice to know there are people out there keeping tabs.

    And YES on those great sites too! When I was first getting serious about writing, the SCBWI and WriteOnCon were huge for me. They offer so much support for newbies. I've since entered contests on Cupid's Literary Connection and Brenda Drake's blog. :) I've heard nothing but GREAT things about Joyce Sweeney. Great post!

  2. Thanks for this AMAZING post! Your advice is priceless. Seriously, it's important to research freelance editors! SCBWI and WriteOnCon have been life preservers for me! I've met so many great writers through their organizations. I'm excited to check out Joyce Sweeney!

  3. Thank you Rina and Diane. :) I know when I first started, I ended up on a site to get your book published, entered some information, and within minutes had someone calling me telling me for $1K they'd be happy to help me publish my book. Um NO. LOL. Joyce is awesome, Diane and totally the real thing. I cannot speak highly enough of her.