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Friday, January 17, 2014

The Benefits of Joining a Professional Writing Organization

     I'm pleased to host Nutschell Windsor, The Writing Nut, to talk about belonging to writing organizations and the collaborative effort published by her group.   Thank you, Nutschell!

 The Benefits of Joining a Professional Writing Organization

While some writers can pursue a career without being part of a professional writing organization, most will benefit from joining one.
I belong to two wonderful writing organizations: The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators ( and the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles (, which I founded.
Here are some of the benefits I see from being a part of both:

1.       Networking

Networking is an important part of growing any business. And writing is a business. Gone are the days of hermit writers and hidden authors. Nowadays, with so many books vying for readers’ attentions, the name of the game is exposure. Networking with fellow authors will give you the chance to increase your book’s visibility. And if you aren’t published yet, networking will open various opportunities for you. You might find critique partners through networking, or find a freelance editor or literary agent who will help you improve your craft. You might meet a blogger who will enthusiastically review or books or even help you set up your own website.

2.       Career Opportunities

Joining a writing organization might also present you with opportunities to get published or expand your career options. You might impress a literary agent or editor during a workshop or conference and find yourself faced with an offer of representation or an offer of publication. Likewise, a writer you meet at a schmooze might invite you to be a speaker for their writing group, or might offer to write a stellar review of your book.

3.       Professional Development

Writing organizations often present workshops and conferences which feature industry professionals. This presents budding authors with an opportunity to learn from the best. Agents, editors and other authors have a storehouse of knowledge and personal experience in publishing and gaining access to both will help writers improve their own craft. These industry professionals will not share writing techniques, they’ll also provide you with helpful tips on how to market your books.

Aside from workshops and conferences, writing organizations will also have other resources like newsletters, magazines, handbooks, and websites full of helpful links and insiders’ information. You might also find online critique partners through your writing organization.

4.       Recognition

Writing organizations will also have a slew of contests, scholarships, and awards. Your talent will be recognized by professionals if you win any one of these; and having that recognition will certainly help open doors and push you further along on the road to publication. If you’re already a published author, winning an award might help boost sales or help improve your next contract.
Winning a contest might also provide you with an opportunity to attend a conference or workshop for free. The Los Angeles branch of the SCBWI, for example, offers the first place winners of their annual Writer’s Day contest a chance to attend one of the three local events they hold each year.

5.       Support

Writing can be a lonely task and the road to publication is never easy. Having the support of fellow writers who understand the journey you’re taking will help you overcome many of the obstacles you’ll encounter along the way. You’ll also get great support in terms of legal and professional situations.
For instance, if you were offered a contract by a publisher, but you have no literary agent to help you look it over, your writing organization might provide you with a handbook, a set of guidelines or some helpful information to help you figure it out. They might also provide you with a directory of entertainment lawyers, and you can hire one of them to help negotiate a better publishing deal for you,  or to help you out in case you get tangled in some legal situation.
Some writing organizations will also have member insurance policies or emergency funds which might help you in your time of need.

6.       Publication

While schmoozing with agents, authors and editors might get your foot in the door, they don’t necessarily lead to instant publication.
Some writing organizations, however, provide definite opportunities for you to get published in other ways. They might encourage submissions to their newsletters or magazines. Or they might even allow you an opportunity to get published in an anthology.
CBW-LA, for example, holds an annual Writing Day Anthology Workshop where participants are led through a series of writing exercises. At the end of the workshop, each participant produces two pieces which are published months later in the group’s STORY SPROUTS anthology.

Joining a writing group will cost money and also require time, since you’ll have to attend various events to make full use of your membership. While there might be detriments to being part of one, such as possible group infighting or power struggles, I have yet to see this in the writing organizations I belong to.
Whatever other cons there may be for joining a writing organization, I can say from experience that the benefits of belonging to one far outweigh them all.

Super thanks for having me on your blog, Arlee!

·                          Paperback: 240 pages
·                          Publisher: CBW-LA Publications (October 18, 2013)
·                          Edited by: Alana Garrigues, Nutschell Anne Windsor
·                          Language: English
·                          ISBN-10: 0989878791
·                          ISBN-13: 978-0989878791
·                          Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
·                          Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

·        19 Authors
·        38 Combined Anthology Entries – 2 per Contributing Author
·        6-hour Workshop
·        10 Writing Exercises (included in Story Sprouts)
·        Dozens of Photo, Character and Conflict Prompts (included in Story Sprouts)
·        240 pages

What happens when linguistic lovers and tale tellers workshop together? Inspiration. Wonder. Discovery. Growth. Magic.
Brave and talented, the writers featured in this anthology took on the challenge of dedicating one day to the raw and creative process of writing.
A rare view into the building blocks of composition, Story Sprouts is made up of nearly 40 works of poetry and prose from 19 published and aspiring children's book authors.
This compilation includes all of the anthology writing exercises and prompts, along with tips, techniques and free online writing resources to help writers improve their craft.

Learn more about Story Sprouts at
Join the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles at 

Find Nutschell at:

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  1. The IWSG is the only one I belong to, but it has been tremendously helpful. There just aren't any locally here and my publisher isn't listed with the SFWA, so I can't join.

  2. I was a member of RWA for a while, but the meetings were never close enough for me to attend.

  3. Great advice and all valid points. When I started out I joined two local groups and started one of my own, it does make all the difference!

  4. Thank you Nutschell for your informative post. Sorry my formatting wasn't as good as it should have been.

    This comment is essentially being made to test my comment box.


  5. Alex, the ISWG is such a great group! I'd already started my Wednesday Writer's Workspace series by the time I discovered it, but I read everyone's posts :)

  6. Diane, I hear RWA is a good group to belong to :)

    Yolanda, huzzah for starting your own group! It can be time consuming but so worth it.

  7. Lee, the formatting looks just fine! THanks soooooo much for hosting us here today! hugs all around!

  8. I've thought about joining a group but never do. Events would never be close enough to attend (as I don't drive).
    There is a possibility of starting one but my town is fairly small.
    Perhaps there is a group with online stuff (chats, workshops, etc.) that would suit me.

  9. Wonderful advice, I already plan to join at least one Society this year. Thanks for all the extra knowledge.

  10. If I lived near Nutschell, I would definitely join her writers' group.

  11. I think such organisations are very helpful whatever you do be it writing or something else.

  12. Writing groups rock! Especially with Nutschell in the helm as the fearless leader. :)

  13. "Tossing It Out" has been included in the A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

  14. I have been thinking of joining a writer's group. As of now I am a part of IWSG which suits me well as every member is a good friend.

  15. Jennifer, online groups work just as well and may be perfect if you don't drive as much. :)

    Sheena, Good luck! I hope you pick a group that's a perfect fit for your needs.

    Susan, awww! Thanks! I wish you did live closer so you could be in the group!!

    Jo, agreed! Every professional will benefit from joining an organization of some kind.

    Alana, awww! you're too kind. My job is made all the more fun with co-organizers like you!

    Jerry, I'll have to check that out!

    Rachnal good luck! I'm glad you're a part of IWSG. I hear it's a great group.


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