Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

I am sorry to have to post this review, but I have given the author, Amy Collins, over a month to make this right. Despite many emails preceding and after the one I quote, below, including promises of payment by a certain date and apologies for its lateness and a new promise, she has posted no payment and provided an unusually bizarre response to my having given her the deadline to respond by the end-of-business yesterday (Thursday, January 28)—see below.

I am appalled and surprised that someone who is publishing a book on writing entitled The Write Way: Everything You Need to Know about Publishing, Selling and Marketing Your Book, would unironically send out ARCs and then another version pre-publication that are both riddled with errors for reviewers.

Know this: the Author and her “publisher” (which I now think is comprised of Collins and one other person in the business) INVITED ME TO REVIEW THIS; I did not solicit her and I rarely do reviews.

After I had read about twenty pages and marked up every page, including the cover, with up to 15 errors PER PAGE, I sent her emails, left voicemails, asked her to communicate with me before I continued. I couldn’t believe this was her final draft. Maybe there was another version, I hoped?

She wrote to tell me that she had had a death in her family and while she was out, that “someone at her office sent out the wrong ARC” (there are two?). Then, for many days, she mostly did not respond (except via automated emails saying she would respond within 24 hours) for this entire communication stream.

She did send me a PDF of another ARC version which was supposedly “the right one,” but it, too, was filled with most of the same errors and some new ones. I read about twenty pages into that and emailed her back, telling her that this PDF ARC was a “new” but not a better version.

I asked for a newer, final ARC; no response. I now think there isn’t a better version (yet).

I waited a few days and sent the email, below. After reading my proposal, the author wrote back to say that she knew that I had given her a break on my editing rate (I did have sympathy for her at that point). She wrote to say that she was very grateful for my offer and agreed to pay me for my editing and postage for me to ship the marked-up edition back to her upon receipt of payment. She promised to pay “by the middle of January.”

I told her that I didn’t want to post a negative review. I’d rather that she revise and improve the book before publication: win-win. Plus, I had already completed reading and marking up the book and had marked up every page. I would be happy to get paid for my work.

January 15 came and went; no payment. More emails, more promises, and no payment, and here we are, January 28: nothing. The author said on January 18 that she had been traveling (and still is, apparently; now she’s on a cruise with other authors and publishers, publicists, etc.), but has she obviously access to the internet, since she’s live tweeting from the cruise ship!

I sent her this on Twitter yesterday (1/28/16):

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
to @NewShelvesBooks AMY: Deadline is EOB today Central USA time. My review goes live at 2 AM CST USA Friday, 1/30/16 if no payment is posted

She responded, astonishingly and terribly unprofessionally:

from Amy Collins ‏@NewShelvesBooks
Hi @sallyemberedd Grateful for all the time you put in. Had to redirect the $ to a project I am afraid. I know your review will be spot on.

To which I replied, with a quoted retweet of the above:

from Sally Ember, Ed.D. ‏@sallyemberedd
Sally Ember, Ed.D. Retweeted Amy Collins
This is known as “breach of contract” by professionals. We had a written agreement. #Youoweme #Payup

I won’t bore you with all of our previous correspondence.

In this post, then, the review occurs, starting with the email I sent the author in which I detailed for her many of her book’s most frequent and egregious errors.

Dear Amy,

I don’t know who your developmental, copy and proofreaders/editors are, but they should all be fired.

Here are a sampling of the errors I’ve found, so you know I’m not being a “troll” or pretending to know what I’m doing. You have these types and/or numbers of errors:

—3 errors ON THE COVERS (back and front and spine) in that your formatting is inconsistent (font color, size, style)
—1 error on the TITLE page (do not capitalize “by” or use it at all, actually; this is not a college essay)
—5 errors on the copyright page (no city of publication is listed; no proper copyright symbol was inserted; no need for “by”; missing colons)
—up to 15 errors(!) per page, with at least one and usually more errors on every page throughout the entire book
—TOC has no page numbers in either version, or the page numbers are wrong, and is on the verso rather than recto side
—Some pages have no numbers (the entire Glossary; all front matter)
—paragraphs and some sentences inexplicably start and end mid-sentence on many pages
— bullets are not formatted in a standard fashion within your own book; most of them are formatted incorrectly; AND, you inserted rhetorical questions within them while you BULLETED those questions(!?)
—seem to have no idea how to use (or when to use) the Oxford comma, apparently, and neither do your editors
—random sections (not consistent as to which or why) in italics
—show no permissions granted from the original authors, nor even where the pieces end, when you quote entire articles within your book
—repeating entire sentences and/or paragraphs and/or concepts from one page to the next within the same chapter, sometimes on facing pages. Word for word, sometimes
—use “so” over a hundred times, mostly inappropriately and without proper punctuation
—no standardization I could fathom for/ among and between your levels of headings regarding font, font size, font styles, alignment and/or purposes
—chapters do not all start on the proper side and you have random blank pages between some chapters (which do not result in their staring on the proper side—recto)

This and much more are wrong. I can’t even group or list all your errors.

All unacceptable, wouldn’t you agree?

I had one idea: You could use this as an opportunity to discuss the very things you warn other indies against within your book, and I would work with you on that if you choose to be honorable and do that.

Or, you could pretend it’s all fine, try to fix the errors yourself (good luck with that; you obviously have no clue how to edit your own work), and hope my review sinks to the bottom beneath all your sycophants’ fake ones.

Anyone who gives this book more than 2 stars (and that would be for content, not professionalism), is lying or has no idea how to read or what to expect from a professional nonfiction book.

I actually got quite a lot of good information from this book and do not want to slam you, but your whole “death-in-the-family—someone sent the wrong version” (in a two-person office?) sounds to me, now, like “the dog ate my homework.”

I am sorry for you any anyone who buys a poorly edited version of this book.

Here is another idea: if you pay me $400 (which is low-balling my rates, considering how much time I put into my mark-up and these emails), plus $5 shipping, I will send you my marked-up copy.

Then, when you complete all the revisions, send me a new one and I’ll review it at that point.

And, now, as we know, I will not receive any payment for my work, despite her emailed promise to do so. I still have the edited copy.

Here are some photos of the mark-ups:

write way cover
front cover of The Write Way with font, color, size errors and inconsistencies.

write way 1
There are multiple errors on almost every page and not one page without an error.

write way 2 upright
Apparently, can’t even keep paragraphs together; this occurs on several pages. How on earth does a copyeditor/proofreader not see these types of formatting mistakes?

write way 3 upright
There are up to 15 errors on some pages; this one has only 8.

Believe me, I take no pleasure in this.

I would certainly have preferred to have been paid for my time and expertise and to have had a positive relationship with this author.

I also wanted this book to be everything it said it would be and for it to live up to its title and promises. Many other authors would then be able to benefit from it.

However, since Ms. Collins doesn’t keep her word and seems to be clueless as to how to behave professionally, I am no longer surprised by the poor quality of the writing, the editing and the proofreading. Very disappointing, though, wouldn’t you agree?

Whoever did the editing and proofreading should have to refund their money to Ms. Collins. If she or anyone else continues to hire them, s/he/they should fire these horrible excuses for professionals immediately.

As I already stated, there are many great points, tips, ideas and resources in this book, if readers can ignore or get past all the mistakes and problems with the formatting, writing, proofreading and repetitions.

Especially for amy writers who are new to self-publishing, such writers would benefit from reading this book and taking notes. Do as she says, not as she does!

Try to borrow it; don’t buy this version!

Reluctantly, I give this mess of a book 2 stars, but buyer beware!

Definitely do not hire the author or her team for anything at all, ever. She calls herself a “teacher” and an “expert,” but I also found mistakes on her website (no surprise, now), which is: http://www.newshelves.com/ Do not contract with New Shelves for anything since they seem to have with no respect for agreements, unless you’re willing for her/them to decide arbitrarily to put time and money into other projects.

Sorry to have to post this saga and review. I would vastly have preferred the other plan to have occurred, as we had agreed.

When you get back from your cruise, fix your book and try to behave more professionally in the future.

proofreading-details-1
image from http://www.michellerenegoodhew.com

Announcing: Timult Books!

Announcing the formation of my own small press:

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For now, Timult Books (pronounced with the long “i” as it “eye”) publishes print and ebook versions of The Spanners Series, which are science-fiction/ romance/ multiverse/ psi-infused/ utopian stories for adults, Young and New Adults about our alternative present(s) and near future(s).

Soon, I may accept others’ publications or write some of my own that are not part of that series. All publications are somehow to be related to the science-fiction/ speculative fiction themes of timultaneity, timulting, timult (these are terms invented by my actual son, Merlyn Ember, for and Clara Branon’s son, Zephyr Branon in The Spanners Series).

The terms refer to the simultaneous nature of all time and the multiple timelines in our multiverse (timultaneity) which some people have the special skill to be able to be perceiving/”seeing” and “knowing” (which is timulting). When they use their skills to look into various possible and actual “presents,” “pasts” and “futures,” that person is said to timult their own and/or others’ events, circumstances and lives.

These URLs, below, are now mine. For a while, they all redirect to THIS site (http://www.sallyember.com) and are not developed at all, until I decide to put in the time to have a separate website for the publication company. When I am ready, I’ll be using the first one only, timultbooks.com .
http://timultbooks.com
http://timultbooks.net
http://timultbooks.org
http://timultbooks.info
(I purchased the other three so no one can use them and confuse anyone by having anything that is not published by MY company on those sites.)

If you are an indie author who would like to have your writing, either fiction of the speculative / science-fiction genre, such as short stories, novellas, novelettes, novels, graphic novels, or poetry, screenplays, nonfiction or essays that utilize these themes or topics to be developed under this imprint and wear the banner of logo_1833057_print high rez  transparent, contact me at sallyember AT yahoo DOT com .

I provide the services of editing, formatting, proofreading, writing tutoring for variable and negotiable hourly rates.
I also offer marketing and other types of support and assistance for a small fee or barter, regardless of how your books are published.

If your writing fits into the Timult Books‘ themes and you want to “join” my small press, let’s talk!

If you’re feeling congratulatory, supportive, and are somewhat “flush” and/or want to celebrate my writing, videocasts and publishing accomplishments and hope for more, please consider a contribution to my #crowdfunding campaign (which entitles you to “rewards” ranging from a free ebook to discounts on my services to writers), at http://www.patreon.com/sallyember

OR use the PayPal donation button on my site (look to the right sidebar) for a non-reward contribution opportunity.

I am putting The Spanners Series’ ebooks into print!

I am putting The Spanners Series’ first three Volumes of ebooks into print-on-demand!

Announcement: NEED FUNDING HELP!

coins image
image from http://www.kevinsmithukip.com

As soon as I can raise the money to purchase my 10 ISBNs, I can put my print editions up for sale on Amazon via CreateSpace! Turns out it is important for series authors to have their own International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) and for indie authors to retain the publisher’s rights by owning their ISBNs rather than allowing the original purchaser of the ISBN to be listed as the “publisher.” Therefore, I have to forego the free and discounted ISBNs provided everywhere and buy my own.

If you’d like to support putting my books into print, please use either my #Crowdfunding Campaign site: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember, which entitles you to “rewards,” such as a free ebook ($4.00 donation) and/or discounted proofreading, editing or writing tutoring, depending upon the size of your donation and how many get there before you, or
the PayPal Donate button here on my site http://www.sallyember.com allows you to contribute any amount to my effort.

10 ISBNs cost $295 if purchased together, which is a great deal because buying a single ISBN costs $125, if purchased separately.

So, I hope I am finally doing it! Got my formatting gloves on, cracking my knuckles and biting all bullets.

My original cover art will carry over (THANKS, WillowRaven!), and all other aspects will be faithful to the ebook versions, with a few surprise additions.

Special thanks to Annie Douglas Lima for posting a guide to doing this so that I can use the Print on Demand feature of CreateSpace on Amazon, and to Madeline Duffy for providing a template I could revise and use.

Volume I is ready as of 10/20/15!just need the cash for ISBNs

I plan to have each Volume of the three published so far ready for sale as print books no later than December 12, 2015.

Wish me luck! Contribute! Tell your friends!


image from http://powerthruconsulting.com

Watch this space for release dates and purchase links.

#BookMarketing: What I haven’t done and intend to do soon

Thanks to Doris-Maria Heilmann of Savvy Book Writers for her Free Checklist for “Passive” Book Marketing, I now have (and am sharing) a great list and resources within it. Link below.
http://www.savvybookwriters.com/free-checklist-for-passive-book-marketing/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SavvyBookWriters+%28Savvy+Book+Writers%29

#BookMarketing: What I haven’t done and intend to do soon

Never heard about this!

Bowker’s Worldwide Listing
http://www.bowkerlink.com

Bowker Link logo

“You may know Bowker from ordering your ISBN numbers, but they are also the provider for “Books In Print and Global Books In Print” that contain listings of bibliographical information for international book titles available in the USA or any other part of the world, in bookstores and libraries. Setting up a new book on Bowkerlink is easy and FREE. Read more in this blog post: http://www.savvybookwriters.com/is-your-book-listed-worldwide/

I felt better when I went to the link, above, and read the intro:
“Few authors have ever heard about BowkerLink: a source for publishers and distributors seeking to update or add to title listings, found in ‘Books In Print,’ ‘Global Books In Print,’ and the ‘Publisher Authority Database.’ How can readers, bookstores or librarians in Japan, Australia, UK or Belize find your book and read, buy or lend it?”

Doris-Maria Heilmann provides a step-by-step sequence for putting a book on Bowkerlink right here. Do it and whatever else you have neglected to do to market your book from her great list.

Check out the rest of her site as well, with many archived posts that are still relevant and useful (this one is from 2013)! http://www.savvybookwriters.com

Luckily, I am not new to marketing, so as I ramp up for the release of my third ebook, Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series (sci-fi/romance, adults/YA/NA), which goes into pre-orders @ half-price on 11/1/15, $1.99 through 12/7/15, then becomes $3.99 on release day, 12/8/15, with a cover reveal on 10/26/15 on http://www.aleshaescobar.com), I am pleased to discover that I have already accomplished (but need to update) most of what’s on the above list.

logoAuthorsDen

Volume I, This Changes Everything, became permafree when I released Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, in the spring of 2014, which is also $3.99.

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
All links, reviews, author interviews and updates: http://www.sallyember.com

final cover print

IndieReCon2 = April 15-17, 2015, ONLINE and FREE! #IndieReCon #IRC15

ALLi_IRC2015-RGB_websitetabsolid

The online IndieReCon2 conference is “a 3-day global event to promote quality and craft in #indie #publishing…scheduled for April 15-17, 2015, with online seminars, workshops, discussions and master classes culminating in a reader-centered, Indie #Author Fringe Fest live!”

Our posts, talks and online seminars cover all stages of the publishing process:

—Author Education: How to Write and Publish Well
—Author Empowerment: Finding Your Best Pathways to Publication
—Reaching Readers: Understanding and Serving Your Readers

“10 Reasons to Attend IndieReCon2” HERE:
ONE: “IndieReCon2 is FREE to attend.”
TWO: “IndieReCon2 is a conference for authors by authors.”

Click link below for the other 8 reasons:
http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/10ReasonsToAttendIndieReCon2.pdf

REGISTER HERE:
http://indierecon.org/register/

SPEAKERS LIST HERE:
Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, and Orna Ross, founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors (sponsor of this event), and many others!
http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/All-you-need-for-IndieReCon-2015.pdf

…and more info, plus photos and bios of speakers HERE:
http://indierecon.org/speakers/

EVENTS LIST HERE:
http://indierecon.org/events/

PRIZES/COMPETITIONS LIST HERE:
http://indierecon.org/competitions/

Learn more about the ALLi and its Ethical Code HERE:
http://allianceindependentauthors.org

ALLiEthicalAuthor_Final-Outlines-300x173

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups
Reposting from one year ago, since it’s all still true and useful and I have new Followers/Readers

Everyone know the biggest drawback to #self-publishing is the isolation. Yes, every #author who doesn’t collaborate in their #writing writes alone. However, prior to the explosion in self-publishing, most books and ebooks that came to readers went through several other sets of eyes and had several editing and revision drafts done by others that helped polish and tighten the writing prior to publication.

artsy-writer-working
image from vidyasury.com

Today more than ever before, pieces of writing from short stories, blogs and articles to full-length books, both nonfiction and fiction, are getting all the way to a reader with no other editor than the writer. This is not a great situation for most readers or writers.

Because many writers seek professional companionship and critiques as well as audiences for drafts and new ideas, writers’ groups have sprung up for many centuries, both formal and informal. These groups usually meet regularly. Size can vary from a pair to a large group of a dozen or more.

The activities in the group can include public readings and/or sharing of written material with participants’ immediate oral comments, pages returned with mark-ups and discussions of the shared pieces. Locations can vary and many are not available free, so some groups charge a fee or require members to pay dues to cover costs and perhaps invite a speaker/presenter to conduct a workshop or give a talk on occasion.

writers_group 1
image from http://www.audreypress.com

Writers’ groups often appoint or hire a facilitator to guide and contribute to the critique. In better-run groups, this leader also keeps time and makes sure the comments are constructive and fair.

However, some groups are not well-run. The ground rules are not clear. Time is not equally distributed because it isn’t tracked well. Comments are not always fair and constructive. The facilitator dominates the discussion. Discussions veer away from the writing into personal stories and tangents introduced by participants. Suggestions are made that are not conducive to the writer’s intent, restrictions, topic, genre or format.

The diverse types of knowledge and experience among participants and in a leader of a writers’ group can be rich sources of varied perspectives OR generate too many irrelevant and unhelpful comments.

Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups

CONS: An unskilled or distracted facilitator
— allows too many destructive comments to occur and this encourages more of the same
— allows the exposed author to experience immediate hurt feelings or bewilderment
— allows the writers to leave the critique session discouraged and confused by conflicting advice and too many off-topic remarks
— offers too many comments and dominates the discussion, shutting down, arguing with or interrupting other participants.

Writers in poorly-run groups can be led astray, which can causes them to depart from writing in their own voices and to lose sight of their personal or professional writing purposes. Many writers get discouraged or even “blocked” by attending poorly run writers’ groups.

BEWARE! Better to be isolated than to attend a group that operates negatively.

critique
image from thewildwriters.com

PROS: An skilled or focused facilitator
— leads a well-run group peopled by dedicated, experienced writers as well as “newbies” who each feels comfortable sharing and contributing
— trains and supports members to utilize the time effectively for receiving and offering constructive critiques, with newbies learning from old-timers the most effective methods for delivering and receiving criticism
— can foster an atmosphere of professional support that provides many gems of advice and new points of view for each member, even ones who don’t share in every meeting.

These productive sessions are wonderful catalysts for the writers who share drafts and any who attend. Authors in well-run writers’ groups return from each meeting with new vigor for editing, revising and creating new content.

Tips for Writers’ Groups:
1) Productive critique sessions are NOT riddled with “we loved it,” “it’s great,” and “keep going” with little or nothing else.
Critics must provide reasons for their opinions, especially when they’re positive, so that writers learn what we do well and can replicate our successes.
Critics must also defend their opinions that tell a writer to make changes by offering suggestions for revision or reasons for the ways the writing doesn’t “work” for the reader/listener.

2) Without the prompting of a skilled, focused leader, opinions may be offered with insufficient or no reasons given. Offering positive or negative opinions without rationales is not useful to a writer and should not be allowed.

3) Focus, clear ground rules (e.g., the requirement to give reasons for opinions, taking turns, sharing time equally) and giving both emotional and cognitive responses to a piece of writing are all parts of a productive writers’ group.

4) If YOUR writers’ group is not productive and positive enough, make an effort to change it or leave it. Start your own or join a different group.

5) Networking has never been easier. http://www.Meetup.com is a source of in-person writers’ groups. You can also check your local library’s, college’s, county’s/parish’s, state’s/province’s and country’s organizational listings for professional writers’ groups in your geographic area or genre. Check Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and many writers’ associations and genre-centered groups online and around the world for possible writers’ groups, critique opportunities and other networking options. Some groups are now meeting online and virtually via SKYPE, iCHAT, Google Hangouts, etc.

CA writers club logo

If you are a writer seeking a group, I hope you find or start a great one!

Best of luck in your writing.

10 Criteria for Joining #Online #Groups/#Communities for #Writers

10 Criteria for Joining #Online #Groups/#Communities for #Writers

What is the value of social networks in easing the loneliness of the solo writer? How do online groups/communities provide opportunities for sharing ideas? How do today’s writers, especially for those newly published or about to seek options in publication, benefit from building communities of virtual friends?

There are now thousands of online groups/communities a writer can join. Some are only available via membership in existing social media sites, such as Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. Others are stand-alone groups that have their own websites and memberships but may also host a page on any of the other social media sites to attract and inform potential members and continue to post info to members regularly.

Then, there are the groups, chat rooms or fora one can join, lurk on and/or contribute to on Yahoo, KindleBoards, Smashwords, Bublish, Authonomy, Jukepop Serial, Wattpad, and probably hundreds more, Add to that specific professional sites’ groups, such as Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, etc., plus international groups and marketing sites and it makes one’s head spin.

If you are a blogger as well as a fiction writer, if you are a new and/or indie pub author or just one of millions who has no outside PR firm hired to market your books, you NEED groups/communities to get your “brand” known, find readers, attract followers and fans, get “pingbacks,” improve your ALEXA rating, your KLOUT or SNAP scores, get a Google Page Ranking for your website….

Don’t you?

How does a busy writer wade through all these opportunities to decide where to plant one’s online presence “flag” and still have time to write? The discerning writer who actually wants to protect your time and keep writing while marketing effectively can use these 10 criteria to choose your online memberships.

10 Criteria for Joining #Online #Groups/#Communities for #Writers

Join-us-banner

image from: http://www.tabularasa.com.au

DECIDE whether or not to:

1. PAY or stick with FREE memberships?
Some groups are free; some start out free or have a free level but change into/have paid memberships that provide additional services or opportunities to those who pay. If you have an unlimited budget or find yourself drawn to one or more of these groups and can afford it, go ahead and become a paid (upper-level) member. Some of these groups’ upper levels really do offer services to authors that are useful; some just say they do but when you read carefully, the “services” are not much more than occasional tweets.

Beware of those that over-promise, do not deliver, or are vague about what paid membership avails members of before paying. Research them: search for the group’s hashtag or tweet handle and then privately message someone [not the leader] about specific ways that being a paid member benefits him/her.

So far, the most I have paid to “belong” to any group or purchase any “marketing” service was $15 and it wasn’t worthwhile. If you do join a group and pay your fees or dues, make sure you’re getting what you pay for and only renew if it’s worth it: no automatic renewals!

pay dues

2. Participate in “review swaps”?
As a newbie desperate for reviews for seemingly invisible books, I found these groups to be so tempting. They seemed so supportive. They offer REVIEWS, sometimes in great quantity, sometimes with rankings and votes as well. But, free or not, these review “exchanges” come with several “prices,” and I personally decided the prices were too high.

For one, I am not comfortable providing pre-arranged and necessarily positive reviews (usually these swaps require/request a review rating of 4 or higher) for books I haven’t yet read in order to get the same for my own books (which the “reviewers” may or may not fully read). I “got into trouble” for daring to critique the books I read for being under-edited, overwritten, poorly constructed, badly plotted, shallow, etc.

Second, and much more chilling: if you join these groups and participate, you run the risk of having any or all of your reviews summarily removed from Amazon for not being inauthentic (some rightly so).

Third, some social media sites (Goodreads, for one) monitors members’ activities and sends messages to those members it believes are abusing the site, such as by “buying” or “trading” votes on Listopia, for example, or providing “fake” 5-star reviews to numerous members’ books. If you even get accused and especially when caught, you will discover that most sites’ TOS say they can suspend your account permanently and remove your books’ reviews, rankings, votes, etc., often with no warning and no recourse.

banned from Amazon

Although I joined some of these groups initially, I found out all of this later. Then, I removed myself within a few months of joining. I never paid to join.

If you are comfortable with the risks and conditions, go right ahead and participate.

3. Participate in Blog Hops and other “required” activities?
Some of these are great and worth doing. Others, not so much.

Look around, visit a few, comment, see what happens. THEN, decide.

4. Join a “Tweet” team or use group hashtags when posting?
This is highly recommended by some, disregarded by many. When someone posts nothing on Twitter but lists of others’ handles and the group’s hashtag, NO ONE CARES. Don’t do that.

But, if your group actually retweets, comments, replies, shares, ENGAGES with each others’ tweets or posts, that is worthwhile and those groups are worth joining.

5. Become a regular responder/poster or stay in the “shadows” (read/lurk but don’t comment, “LIKE,” +1 or post)?
I highly recommend lurking/reading many days’ or months’ worth of posts for some “Boards,” Communities or Groups before posting yourself. Get the “culture” of the group: the tone, the topics, the length, the repartee, the purposes. See if these resonate with you and your “brand” or style. If yes, go right ahead and join in the conversation. If not, move on.
Do not join a group to argue, criticize, lambast or attack.

Remember: the internet is “forever”: if you get into a “flame war,” readers/fans and publishers (and employers) can find it years later. Perhaps use a pseudonym for controversial posts.

Zooey Deschanel quote about trolls

6. Become a “help offered,” “help requested” or both type of participant?
You can become a resource to others on many sites (Quora, Ask an Expert, Reddit, etc.) or request help yourself.

Respect, assistance and expertise are admired. Whining, complaining, false information or bragging: not.

7. Join as yourself, your brand/books/website, your pseudonym?
EVERYTHING you post becomes part of your brand unless you use pseudonyms. The intentional and judicious use of pseudonyms is recommended, particularly if you write in vastly different genres (children’s books and erotica) or want to comment on controversial topics but not affect your brand.

If you become a “content curator,” offering information, help, creative/fun posts, and these are consistent (or at least not contradictory) with your brand, go for it! Join groups and comment/post frequently as yourself. Get to know/be known by the members, become a fan /follower of theirs.

I belong to several groups whose members and I are becoming virtual friends. We support each other’s efforts.

encouragers-wanted

image from: http://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com

These are the groups worth joining and continuing to be active in and are valuable even when you have little time. If you comment here with one of yours, I’ll share some of mine!

Dump the rest.

8. Join any genre-specific or topic-specific groups?
If you are a “genre” writer, then, YES: join one or more of these groups.

I belong to sci-fi, romance, paranormal, ebooks, indie pub, fantasy, “clean” indie, female-oriented, YA, speculative fiction, blogger, author, writer, marketing, science, tech, G+ HOA help and many other groups that I interact with, enjoy and learn from weekly.

Be sure to read and follow each group’s posting guidelines carefully to avoid getting disliked, kicked out or otherwise censored.

9. Offer any giveaways, have contests, provide guest spots yourself?
If you have print books or swag, go right ahead and offer it/them. I highly recommend that you think of what you have to offer and start offering (e.g., free PDFs of writing tips, samples of your writing, free passes, discount coupons) whenever you can.

I have a blog (http://www.sallyember.com/blog) and an almost-weekly Google+ Hangout On Air (CHANGES HOA), so I can and do offer guest blog opportunities and guest starring spots. If you’d like to propose a guest blog topic and date and/or be on CHANGES, get in touch with me here: sallyember@yahoo.com

I am also a series ebooks novelist, so I offer the first book in The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything, as “permafree,” which is highly recommended for newbies to do, once we have subsequent books for sale.

When you are doing many other types of writing and interacting regularly with several online groups/communities, you can occasionally plug your own books! Like, NOW!

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10. Enter any contests or pay for reviews or marketing?

When a group’s entire purpose is to further its own ends and fill its coffers with entry fees, service charges, etc., these make me suspicious. But, I am naturally cynical.

I decided early on not to pay to enter any writing contests, not to pay for reviews, not to pay for “members’ services” and mostly not to pay for marketing. These are my decisions and not everyone agrees with them.

Some individuals offer a combination of free and for sale services/marketing, so you can decide which you want to participate in/join. I have met several great people and had excellent experiences in some groups in this way: I participated in their free activities and then did not continue when the next steps required payment since I couldn’t afford or did not need those services at that point. I do give these “helpers” regular “shout-outs” and thank them publicly for all they do/have done, actions which I hope make up for my lack of financial support to them.

The professionals left me alone when I asked them to do so. The ones who wouldn’t stop emailing and kept on when I asked them to stop or when I told them I wasn’t buying got relegated to spam and ignored.

You have to decide for yourself. However, if you are considering paying for any of these, please research the contest, reviewers, PR person, etc., thoroughly.

Writing Community

It’s bad enough not to win or not to get what you paid for; it’s worse when you’ve paid a lot. BEWARE!

If/when you find groups worth joining, please comment about them here.

Best of luck to you all!