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Author Topic: Paying for a Writing Group?  (Read 3912 times)

Offline Doctor_Chill

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Paying for a Writing Group?
« on: August 05, 2015, 06:51:43 PM »
So Marc (Overlord) today posted a piece on the Facebook Group postulating on the few failed writing groups we've had on here. He proposed that there be a fee to enter a Writing Group, thinking that might spur commitment. I don't know how to link the post from Facebook to over here, but I will be giving out his proposed suggestions below. Though I'll keep my comments to myself for now, I was wondering what everybody (people past and currently in the Writing Groups most especially) thought on this.

Marc's intro post: "Floating this idea out there: would you pay a small fee to enter a writing group that was administered in a way that that feedback was given by multiple readers so long as you returned the favour?
We have started a number of writing groups but they all bomb as people sign up and disappear. I think a fee would ensure continued involvement as it is an investment and we could give that fee to an admin.
It would need to be the right mix of dedicated and enthusiastic writers for sure, but could work?"

Further comments: "Maximum of say 4-6 people per group. All critique each other. Monthly exercises and study suggestions. Condition of membership is that you keep up with the group and if you can't (without good reason) your spot is offered up. Goal is to not be harsh on writers, but motivate them and keep them contributing and being contributed towards the goal of eventual publication."

"People start out meaning well but take their critiques and disappear. The issue is that a writing group cannot maintain itself and it ideally shouldn't have to - the writers need to use their time to write rather than organise. Also, a bit of direction and being prodded is motivating for most. My idea is that you are really paying the admin to keep things flowing and setting the exercises and study material. You are not paying for critique as that would cost a fortune, that comes in return for providing critique to others in the group which would be a condition of membership."

Hmm? I'm also linking this post to the Facebook Group to allow their view to percolate here (seeing as I don't know crap on how to link that specific post.)
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2015, 07:02:47 PM »
I think it's an awful idea.
I'm sorry to say, but it feels Marc doesn't know what's going on in his own forum :-\

The current Writing Groups are just starting but they are quite active, already on the second round of reviews, split into 4 groups of 5 writers each.

Nobody paid, nobody is disappearing.
To think that you need to pay to be involved is a big slap in the face for the forum regulars who keep this alive because we love fantasy books so much. It also follows the fallacy that in this society the only things worth having are the ones you need to pay.

It feels that people think the forums only exist when their own space doesn't work.
Chilly doesn't mention that, but apparently all these 'paying people' would be 'renting space' on the forum.

Marc is confusing the people who register on the forum only for publicity and get critiques, the ones with 1 or 2 posts and not interested in interacting with anyone, and the real Writing Groups we have here.

I know I'm always the person who's nice and happy and everything ( ;) ), but this idea left me speechless and seriously annoyed. >:(
« Last Edit: August 05, 2015, 07:15:21 PM by ScarletBea »
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2015, 07:03:03 PM »
To get a direct link to a post, just click the timestamp (beneath the name of the person who posted it). ...and I don't even have FB.  8)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/FantasyFaction/permalink/1453861304923059/

Will take a look at what he says now, but I doubt I'd pay to enter when it's possible to do it for free. I think I get what his argument will be, and I think it'd just depend on the type of person.
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2015, 07:12:44 PM »
Yeah I agree with Bea. The way the writing group has been set up this time around completely solves all of the problems they're mentioning imo, things like writers being incompatible, people taking critiques and leaving, etc.

I have no concerns that anyone will disappear, and think it's great so far. Plus there's already a mechanism in place to keep it fresh and keep up involvement over time (re-mixing the groups), so I don't see why it wouldn't carry on for a long time yet.
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2015, 07:23:13 PM »
to be honest, i don't think i'm going to be as offended as many folks.  then again, i'm a noob.

the thought feels kind of like fantasy football.  (um.  fantasy american football.  for the uninitiated, it's like d&d for jocks.)  many leagues go stale after the first few weeks because it requires committing time to research, injuries, watching the games, etc.  to combat that, lots of things can happen.  people pay $10, $50, or even i've seen $300 to even play.  there's often a charter everyone signs with sharp rules.  there's a commissioner to keep everyone on track.  players are ruthlessly cut if they forget to set their lineup for the week.

granted, there are a TON of less rigid leagues, but membership to the good ones is an exclusive thing.

if we changed anything, i'd probably have a giant pool of "open writing groups" loosely assembled (the jv team) and then we can invite the good ones to graduate to the varsity team.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2015, 07:32:27 PM »
to be honest, i don't think i'm going to be as offended as many folks.  then again, i'm a noob.

the thought feels kind of like fantasy football.  (um.  fantasy american football.  for the uninitiated, it's like d&d for jocks.)  many leagues go stale after the first few weeks because it requires committing time to research, injuries, watching the games, etc.  to combat that, lots of things can happen.  people pay $10, $50, or even i've seen $300 to even play.  there's often a charter everyone signs with sharp rules.  there's a commissioner to keep everyone on track.  players are ruthlessly cut if they forget to set their lineup for the week.

granted, there are a TON of less rigid leagues, but membership to the good ones is an exclusive thing.

if we changed anything, i'd probably have a giant pool of "open writing groups" loosely assembled (the jv team) and then we can invite the good ones to graduate to the varsity team.
@Saurus came up with an analogy which I think fits perfectly: it's like gym membership. If someone's motivated to go, they'll go. If they're the kind of person who thinks they need some outside reason to go, then they'll be much more likely to give up.  :D
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Offline xiagan

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Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2015, 08:00:49 PM »
I wonder why he thinks that uncommitted people who clicked 'like' once on facebook (exaggerating to make a point) have a more educated opinion about it than the forum users and/or writing group veterans...

I like the gym analogy and I'm pretty sure that's how it would turn out.

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« Last Edit: August 05, 2015, 08:15:59 PM by xiagan »
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Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2015, 08:16:23 PM »
The idea of folk having to pay just to be a part of an online writing group (unless there is some sort of professional tuition programme as part of it) sticks in my craw for several reasons. I suppose it could be argued I already pay a little for mine, but that's for room hire. Maybe if the money went into a pool to pay for a professional crit for a lucky winner...

I'd be much more inclined to have a 'crit point' system where you have to give decent amount of feedback on the work of others, say 3-5 times before you can submit one of your own, then the counter resets. Makes people work for it (at least a bit) rather than just take and disappear.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2015, 08:35:54 PM by CameronJohnston »

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Offline tebakutis

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Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2015, 09:51:30 PM »
I'm currently in two writing groups (one in Baltimore, one in D.C.) and I don't think this is a good idea. There are certain things that you can justify paying for to improve as a writer but a writing group (or a book doctor, for that matter) is not one of them.

I do see how there could be a tendency in online writing groups, specifically, to have people bow out without warning. This is usually because people don't often consider how much work it really is to critique other's stuff, and also because when you only know people online, the social contract isn't as strong.

My recommendation to anyone who wants a writing group is to find people local to where you are, or within driving distance. If there isn't a writing group for your genre nearby, start your own. Attend local sci-fi/fantasy cons (always thick with newbie authors) or post fliers at game shops, anywhere you think you might find like-minded folks who are looking for a critiques.

When people are meeting in person to critique, and everyone knows each other face to face, it's much easier to keep the group together and much more likely for it to succeed. But I don't think just tacking on a fee is the solution.

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2015, 03:56:27 AM »
a fee would weed out the people who are not sufficiently motivated to stay active.
Attrition is one of the main reasons these things collapse.

However, there are plenty of no-cost alternatives, so if you charge a fee there needs to be a benefit to joining this group instead of the alternatives.

I suggest that there might be other ways to identify writers who are sufficiently motivated and have the stick-to-itiveness to continue.
1. writers who have finished something.
2. writers who have written X number of words.
3. etc., etc.

Whenever I join these types of things, my hope is to find one person who may be a long-term critique partner, so even if the writing group dissolves, I might have obtained a lasting benefit.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2015, 08:10:30 AM »
A number of the meeting-offline writing groups in my local area require a small fee for involvement. It covers admin, space, refreshments, other costs. I don't find the idea wildly outrageous. And in the model that Marc lays out, there is a benefit to paying the fee - the group is administered and well-organised, including "bonus content" like exercises and guided discussion.

It's too soon to say whether our current groups will blossom or shrivel. I agree that there are measures in place to tip the balance towards blossoming - members are part of the existing community, and there are mechanisms in place for allowing organic growth and shift within and across the groups. But at the moment, we're being led, organised and kept on track by enthusiastic volunteers. It's a lot of work for those folk, and if (when) they no longer wish to take on that role, the groups may well meander and diminish. The notion of a fee - even a token one - is a way of making sure all the members acknowledge the importance of those administrative roles. But perhaps it might be better to ensure all members take a role in the admin tasks.

Offline Overlord

Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2015, 09:35:24 AM »
Cheers, Bea! I shall remember all of that :-)

No one is asking you to pay to be involved in your writing group... we are talking about offering another option for those who want it.

---

Quote
A number of the meeting-offline writing groups in my local area require a small fee for involvement. It covers admin, space, refreshments, other costs. I don't find the idea wildly outrageous. And in the model that Marc lays out, there is a benefit to paying the fee - the group is administered and well-organised, including "bonus content" like exercises and guided discussion.

The OP posted a very small part of my conversation. Here are 'some' other bits:

My idea is that you are really paying the admin to keep things flowing and setting the exercises and proposed study material. You are not paying for critique as that would cost a fortune, that comes in return for providing critique to others in the group which would be a condition of membership [it is an alternative to a point based system that has failed in the past].

...

The group will rely on me making it awesome. I'm considering guest webinars with authors and discussions with them on certain topics. Kind of like a college course style [although obviously not working towards a qualification or ever claiming to be more than a writing group, I just want it to have that feel] - all in a bid of keeping involved writers motivated and with their eye on the prize :)

It won't be for everyone. But those who want something a bit more structured and assurance that someone is chasing others on their behalf may find it useful.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 09:59:36 AM by Overlord »
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Offline Overlord

Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2015, 09:54:22 AM »
Though I'll keep my comments to myself for now, I was wondering what everybody (people past and currently in the Writing Groups most especially) thought on this.

At least two members of former writing groups are interested in getting involved but concerned that they will fall and they'd have invested a lot of time for nothing and aren't willing to do it. My idea aims to get these people involved in something in addition to the self-maintaining writing groups.

I don't see the issue.

I could understand if I suddenly locked all you groups and said 'pay me or get out', but, as I hope you know, I'd never do that. I am saying 'you guys go right ahead, use our servers to run your groups - you are more than welcome' and at the same time looking for options for those who are too nervous to get involved.

You are also not considering the reason I posted this in Facebook and not on here... different user groups.

Your presumption I'm trying to hurt your groups, indulge in my own greed or anything else is rather hurtful and unexpected.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 09:56:33 AM by Overlord »
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Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2015, 10:07:31 AM »
Cheers, Bea! I shall remember all of that :-)

No one is asking you to pay to be involved in your writing group... we are talking about offering another option for those who want it.

---

The OP posted a very small part of my conversation. Here are 'some' other bits:

My idea is that you are really paying the admin to keep things flowing and setting the exercises and study material. You are not paying for critique as that would cost a fortune, that comes in return for providing critique to others in the group which would be a condition of membership.

...

The group will rely on me making it awesome. I'm considering guest webinars with authors and discussions with them on certain topics. Kind of like a college course style - all in a bid of keeping involved writers motivated and with their eye on the prize :)

It won't be for everyone. But those who want something a bit more structured and assurance that someone is chasing others on their behalf may find it useful.

A more structured course with guest webinars with authors and discussions on certain writing topics, sounds like it would be hugely useful to people, and I'd imagine people more serious about improving their writing would be happy to pay guest authors a little beer-money for their time (sounds fair to me).

Nanowrimo works in large part because of community interaction with other writers, but also that it has a deadline urging you to get writing now and not a nebulous later, so I can see a more structured writing group could be beneficial to people.





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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Paying for a Writing Group?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2015, 10:18:22 AM »
Your presumption I'm trying to hurt your groups, indulge in my own greed or anything else is rather hurtful and unexpected.
Nobody is thinking that!
We just feel it isn't needed :-\
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