Friday, March 8, 2013

A Little Help From my Friends

Post by Kerrie

I would not be the writer I am today, without my incredible critique group. For the past 15 years, I have been meeting with this group every Wednesday evening from 7:00-10:00 at Ellen Javernick’s house. When I joined the group, it had already been around for about 20 years. Members have come and gone, but we have a strong core group that isn’t going anywhere.

Most groups have a name like Raintree Writers or Broad Horizons, but we call ourselves Writers Group. We didn’t really pick this name because we wanted it; it became assigned to us by default because we could never agree on a name. We needed something to say when a spouse or friends would ask, “where are you going?” Our reply was Writers Group.

LeAnn explaining Helen's projects
Earlier this week at Writers Group we decided to try something new and have a Submission night. The goal was for everyone to come to Group with up to three pieces of work they wanted to find potential markets for. We wanted to do this because we knew some members had great projects gathering dust and it was time for them to be sent out again.

Hard at work researching markets
We got to Ellen’s house early and enjoyed a wonderful dinner together and then got right to work. Each one of us had a piece of chart paper with our name on it where we listed our three books or articles needing a home. We briefly discussed everyone’s projects and narrowed down genres, age groups and core themes.

Sticky notes with new markets
We then broke out all our market books (Writer’s Market, Best of Magazine Markets 2013,  2013 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market…) and started researching. The idea was as we looked through the market guide for places to send our projects, we could also be looking for everyone else as well. When we found a potential market for someone, we wrote the publisher/agent/magazine name on a sticky note, with a quick note as to why we picked this market and then put the sticky on that person’s chart paper.

Raising our glasses to all our future success. 
Sally Engeman, Helen Colella, Linda Osmundson,
Kelly Baugh, LeAnn Thieman,
Ellen Javernick, Kerrie Flanagan
(Not pictured: Carol Rehme)
After about two and half hours our eyes glazed over and we couldn’t see straight anymore; so we stopped. Everyone’s chart papered averaged about eight new potential markets.  We ended the night by breaking out the champagne and imagining a year had passed. We raised our glasses and toasted our success in finding publishers, agents and editors who wanted to publish our work.

This process strengthened our support for one another even more, it made researching markets fun and it provided the incentive to start sending out submissions again.

I highly recommend you try this with your critique group or with a group of trusted writing friends.


Summer Ross said...

Wow! Sounds like a fantastic group. In my small town there are 3 writers group- all different. The first one is an older crowd- they tend to snuff out younger people with wide ideas broadening out to erotica and such.
Then there's the pleasers group-A group of twenty somethings and they sit and write for a while then compliment each other on a job well done.

Then there is my group- LOL I'm not sure what anyone would call us- but we have an online group that we utilize and we try to meet at least once a month- most of us are college students or moms so it's hard to coincide schedules- but oh how I'd love to get a group like your going here.

John Paul McKinney said...

There's nothing like a sense of community to help us succeed. It surely looks as though you all have it. Good luck with the projects! JP

Michelle Mach said...

What a great idea! It always seems so much easier to find markets for other people than for yourself.

Helen Colella said...

Indeed a productive marketing workshop. We ate well: delicious food, lip-smacking dessert, fine wine and a bit of the bubbly. We shared new stories, reminisced about those who have come and gone, and marveled at the depth of professional growth of all, and the lasting friendships we’ve developed. We had fun and laughed a lot. Writers Group you are the bestest!

Dean K Miller said...

Things like this are why writers are the coolest people on the planet.

Kerrie said...

Summer, thanks for stopping by. You can start a group like we have. I guess way before I arrived on the scene, the 2 ladies who started it were young moms and their kids would play while they had writer's group.

JP, I agree-community is great.

Michelle-it is much easier to find markets for other people.

Helen, thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts about the evening.

Dean, I couldn't agree more.

Kerrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greengabardine said...

I think I look like a weird giant in the first picture. Were you using a Peter Jackson camera technique to make me look like a giant and the rest of you cute, petite hobbits? :)

Great article Kerrie!!!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Where would we be without our wonderful writers' groups? I, for one, might never have finished a book, much less gotten published.

Your group's brainstorming session on markets was a great idea. That's the kind of kick in the pants we all need from time to time.

Kerrie said...

Kelly, I was going for the special, make Kelly look like a giant effect. And it looks like it worked!

Pat, I don't know where I would be without my writers group. Maybe sitting on a street corner with a cardboard sign that says, "Desperate writer needs someone to read and critique her work."

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