Monday, November 27, 2017

Writers Learn from Reading / IWSG Book Club

Hi, everyone! Chrys Fey here, stopping in for a guest post about the IWSG Goodreads Book Club!

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads was created for writers to read and learn about the writing craft. We read one book every two months, alternating between writing-related books and fiction books that can teach us about a specific aspect of storytelling.

Reading is the best way to learn. And when we put the things we learn into practice, we grow as writers That is the goal of our book club. Every book selected, no matter the genre, has something to offer our members. By reading, we are expanding out storytelling knowledge, examining how authors use specific aspects of storytelling, and we also discover what he like/dislike as readers, which will influence our writing.

In the group, we posted a poll asking what our members want to learn more about in regards to writing a story. The options were the group’s fictional book categories, and our members’ answers now dictate what categories we tackle and when.

Poll Results:
1. Characterization
2. Structure
3. Symbolism
4. Description
5. Voice
6. Dialogue
7. Setting

So, the first fiction book we read was The Secret Garden for characterization. And the book we read for Oct/Nov was The Time Traveler’s Wife for structure. That means the third fiction book for Feb/March 2018 will be for symbolism, which out members will get to vote on.

Another poll told us what our members’ biggest insecurities are, which helps to determine the writing-related books we read. Marketing and not selling books were the insecurities at the top of the pyramid, so the last writing book we read was Marketing for Writers who Hate Marketing: The No-Stress Way to Sell Books Without Losing Your Mind by James Scott Bell.

Our book discussions include questions about topics of interest from the books we read, so members can share their opinions and also offer advice and insight.

In the discussion for Marketing for Writers who Hate Marketing, we asked 12 questions that got many great responses.

One question we asked was this: Do you have a website? Why or why not? Here are two thought-provoking answers from club members:

Leah: I do have a website. It's the one piece of virtual real estate I can control while all the social media channels change rules/algorithms (whatever), and there's nothing the author can do about it….

Samantha: Yes-ish. I have a blog to which I've added pages so it serves as a website, too. It's important to have a web presence. A lot of events won't even consider a writer who doesn't. And if someone hears about me or my work, I want to be search-able so they can find me!

For The Secret Garden, the questions were all about characterization and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s characters. For The Time Traveler’s Wife, the discussion was tailored toward the story’s structure, plot, and scenes.

We also conduct author interviews in which our members get to ask the author of the book we’re reading questions about the book or topic in general. We then pick 10 of the best questions and send them to the author to answer.

One member’s question for James Scott Bell was: What is one good marketing strategy that you see authors doing wrong or falling short with, and how can they make it work better for them?

Bell’s Answer: Cover design is a marketing element. Giving books mediocre covers, or ones that are not genre specific, will hurt sales despite how good the book might be. Don’t short shrift on the cost here.

Everything we do in the book club is meant to create dialogue between writers, shine light on things many writers struggle with, and offer advice. Not only will you learn from the books but from the discussions and interviews as well.

So, join us!

Our December/January book is The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray, which could be of interest to members who worry they write too slow, the second biggest insecurity voted on by our members.

Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s an administrator for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, running their newsletter and book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.
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So jump in and join the IWSG Goodreads Book Club!


nashvillecats2 said...

Most interesting to read Chrys, tips like these are invaluable.
Thanks for sharing.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Even though I haven't read all the books or commented, I've enjoyed the book club. I really learned a lot from James Scott Bell's book.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I agree with Natalie's comment above. I haven't read all the book selections, but I learned a lot from Bell's book, and I really enjoyed the interview/q and a.

Pat Hatt said...

Having your own presence sure is needed indeed. Cover can make or break too.

Christine Rains said...

A great cover is a definite must. I love reading the members' answers to the questions in the discussions.

cleemckenzie said...

Have to echo the cover discussion. Without a good one, it's hard to sell a book.

Chrys Fey said...

@Natalie, I'm glad you found James Scott Bell's book useful. I hope you find other writing-related books we read useful as well. :)

@Madeline, no need to read all the book selections...unless you want to. :)

@Pat, Christine, Lee, Yes, the cover of a book is highly important.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The Secret Garden is excellent for characterizations. I have The Time Traveler's Wife but I haven't read it yet.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Great post!
Thank you, Chrys!

dolorah said...

Ok, I'm convinced I need to join this club.

Thanks Chrys.

Sherry Ellis said...

Thanks, Chrys! I'll have to check out the marketing book.

Chrys Fey said...

@L. Diane, The Time Traveler's Wife is an interesting book.

@Dolorah, I hope you do join it. :)

@Sherry, I hope you find it useful.

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for the update on the reading group, Chrys.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys and Alex - looks I need to join in ... thanks for the insight into the group and its approach ... I'll look to join asap - cheers Hilary

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Chrys! I enjoyed your post on the IWSG Goodreads Book Club. So far, I've read and enjoyed all the books. Now I have to order the Dec./Jan. one. I haven't figured all the ins and outs of how Goodreads and the book club work ~ Just too much going on. But I'll get there! Thanks for taking the club on!

erica and christy said...

I found this at the exact right/wrong time!!! Writing too slowly is my biggest insecurity. I love the idea of this... I just don't know how to squeeze in one more thing, but it's super important, so I'm going to try! Thanks! Christy

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - have just jumped continents ... I'm getting back into things = I may well do this in the New Year ...and join?! Sounds really interesting ... cheers and well done on this - looks an excellent reading group ... Hilary

Gwen Gardner said...

Heh, another book I need to add to my TBR list. I'm horrible at marketing. I agree about covers, though. If the cover looks cheap or unprofessional, I'm not even interested at looking at the inside.