Social networking with other writers
Published: July 10, 2007
|Will an online social network help you grow your writing?|
Instead of connecting people to Web sites, social networks now focus on connecting people to people. Professionals are beginning to see the value in these networks, with a bonus. Most of them are free.
Friendster, one of the first social networks, was soon surpassed by new communities such as MySpace and Facebook. These and other sites like LinkedIn, slanted toward professionals, now offer the greatest potential in history for connecting writers to readers, or to editors. If you're a writer looking for an expert to quote, you can search for experts by profession.
Such sites also provide a free means of letting others know you're in the writing business. Members may use tools to upload photographs or videos and to exchange messages with other members, friends or professional peers.
Facebook has grown far beyond its original borders. In the beginning, the site targeted college students. Now many adults enjoy sharing information through Facebook. You can even send a friend a cyber fortune cookie.
Hosts like Yahoo provide the means to start up your own interest group. There's literally never been a better time to get connected.
Some sites are free; others require a subscription.
Freelance Success is a networking Web site praised by many freelancers, including myself, for connecting writers to editors and other purchasers of articles, essays or news, nowadays often referred to simply as "content." Yesterday's freelance writer is today's "content provider."
Jennie L. Phipps, editor and publisher, says, "Freelance Success started out as a newsletter with some subscribers who liked to get together on Compuserve. Fourteen years later, it's a thriving online community with a weekly newsletter."
Subscribers pay $89 a year for weekly market guides, a database listing, forum access and other benefits. The weekly market guides contain an in-depth interview with a magazine, publishing group or Web site editors. What makes this report different is its immediacy; the interviews and information are current. The Freelance Success forum is one of the most active, congenial places on the Web to ask questions about specific magazine needs, to locate an expert, or even to get information like user feedback on the latest digital recorder.
Some writers seek a group of like-minded individuals who focus on a specialty. Clare Leschin-Hoar wanted to find food writers. So she organized a group, using free tools at Google. Members can choose to receive messages by individual e-mail or in a single digest, or they can read the messages online at the group page. Leschin-Hoar, whose work appears in outlets such as The Boston Globe and Family Circle, says the biggest benefit of starting her group is "having a core group focused on one niche like food, yet we're still diverse." She says members are recipe developers, restaurant reviewers and others who write about issues like the farm bill or the whole organic movement.
"Everyone has been willing to share a wealth of information," says Leschin-Hoar. Writers share source and editor contacts, information on pay and contracts as well as story placement ideas. Currently, the food writers group has about 30 members.
Yahoo groups are set up in a manner similar to groups at Google. You create an account, set up your group, and start inviting people. You can pick any subject that interests you, and your group can be any size you like.
Whether you choose to establish your own writing group or decide to connect with others by using sites like Facebook, social networking with other writers online may inspire you as well as help you to build contacts that take your publishing to the next level.
Echoing a sentiment expressed by many independent writers, Leschin-Hoar says, "I'm on my own. So doing this has been really helpful."
--Posted July 10, 2007
Set up your profile, share photos, write on friends' walls, and more. Free.
For more information about Freelance Success. Yearly Subscription $89.
To set up a group at Google. Free.
Set up your professional profile, build connections. Free.
To set up a group at Yahoo. Free.
In my next column, I look at the value of digital photographs. Can photos give you an edge in selling your writing? I'll include tips from experts on shooting better photos and selecting a camera in keeping with your skills and your budget.