7 Tips for participating in on-line writing groups

Some thoughts about good manners, common sense, and courtesy to practice and/or cultivate when participating in on-line writing groups. The internet may seem impersonal – but slights, insults, and thoughtless behavior are still noted by those you interact with–and people have long memories.

  1. Say “thank you” to anyone who spends their time energy and effort writing a critique of your writing.
  2. Return critiques – If someone spends their energy and time offering their best effort to (in their opinion) help improve your work, respond in like manner. Critique theirs with your best effort. ‘Tis how each of us learns and helps another. Not returning critiques can be interpreted as rude and selfish. Not a genre you generally read – critique anyway. You don’t like their novel – critique anyway. You might possibly be surprised to discover that they didn’t like your novel either – but they tried to help you anyway.
  3. Keep your promises – If you’ve specifically requested a person to critique your work/post and promised or implied that you would return the favor/critique – keep that promise. See the intro comment above. Paybacks can come in strange and unexpected ways.
  4. Remember those who helped you. – Did someone critique your entire work (novel etc)? Then return the help they gave you. Don’t move on to your next phase (i.e. become inactive in the group or whatever) and forget the help you received.
  5. Participate in the social aspects of your on-line writing group. If a forum thread/discussion catches your interest. Post your thoughts – but consider NOT responding to each successive post which presents an opinion different from yours, especially don’t respond insultingly or negatively. Don’t try to brow-beat others into agreeing with you.
  6. Practice common sense if you use the social media (specifically twitter). Don’t use it to spam tweets about you or your friend’s books, blogs, promotions every two seconds. Overall, that practice turns more buyers away from the things more than it attracts them.
  7. Keep a lists (if you need to) so that you don’t forget who you owe a critique, who helped you when asked etc. A list or lists will facilitate the tips above.