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The Problem With Writer's Groups


Now that I have your attention, let me explain the problem as I see it. Ok, it's not really a problem. It's more of a nagging question. There are scads of would-be writers out there. 80% of the general population says, "I want to write a book." Great!
 
Here's the recurring question: When are you going to do it?  Most writers never take the ultimate step of getting their dreams in print. Few writer's groups have insight into how to publish a book and, as a result, very few members ever get their books published. Why write if you never get your work published?
 
The problem as I see it:  the average author doesn't know where to begin.
 
You faithfully attend a local writer's group. You learn about, talk about and dream about being a great writer some day. You pay to go to annual writer's conferences, enjoy the workshops, fraternize with other writers, meet real live literary agents, shake hands with publishing company reps and go home with a fire in your belly to make the New York Times bestseller list. But, alas, in a few short weeks, you're back into the same familiar mindset dealing with things at work, handling family issues and relationship glitches and working through the never-ending process of making it week to week. Your book goes on a back burner. It's a lot like taking driving lessons and never buying a car.
 
Even writer's conferences seldom delve into the business end of publishing, nor do conference speakers challenge authors to publish their manuscripts. That is the potential problem as I see it. Publishing is like giving birth. Unlike childbirth, which will culminate in a matter of months, publishing can wait, and wait, and wait. Worst case: no one may ever see the grin on your face as you open that first, just delivered box of books, hot off the press.
 
Those who do publish usually wind up going with a vanity publisher that rips them off to produce a sub-par book.
 
I have been part of a local writer's group for over five years now. I have spoken at other writer's groups in central Florida and I have noticed a consistent trend. Lot's of people want to be writers, some actually write and finish a manuscript, but very few follow through with it and get their masterpiece in print. Those few who do, almost always wind up going with a knuckle-dragging, bottom-feeding, blood-sucking vanity publisher who does little more than charge an outrageous price for a so-so book that nobody buys outside the author's immediate circle of family and friends. It breaks my heart.
 
According to R.R. Bowker, the official dispenser of ISBN's in the United States, over 450,000 authors self-published a book in 2013 (up from 391,000 in 2012). I can predict without fear of being disproven, most of them got ripped off by an unscrupulous vanity press because they had no clue about the business end of publishing.
 
Are you like the proverbial hound dog sitting on a thorn? It bothers him but instead of standing up and easing the pain, he just sits there howling. Are you ready to get off your thorn?
 
Want to know how to avoid vanity publishers? Buy your own ISBN and they won't touch you.
 
You might want to look at The ABCs of Publishing.
 
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Updated May 18, 2017