Monday, August 8, 2011


RWA. EPIC. Publisher loops. Writer loops. There are a ton of them out there, especially if you add in groups on social media. I belong to several and have found them to have both benefits and detriments.

They are great ways to network. You meet people who are in similar circumstances as you and face similar situations. You also have the benefit of reaching people with more experience and who can offer advice. I’ve found great assistance offered on the various RWA loops—from advice about how to write, or how to submit manuscripts, to suggestions about what to bring to my first book signing. I even received 1000 “Signed by Author” stickers in the mail from an extremely generous loop member who just wanted to help me out!

Loops are terrific for promoting your work—they’re a built-in audience who understand the give and take desired by writers, kind of an “I’ll read your blog if you’ll read mine.” They usually have large numbers of members who have similar interests as you, as well as their own readers who may want to broaden their horizons by reading your work too.

They can also be great for encouragement. I can’t tell you how many messages of congratulations for a book release, upcoming signing, great review, etc. I’ve seen on the loops.

Facebook also has its own version of loops—groups of people with similar interests. The biggest difference with Facebook groups that I’ve seen is that you have more information about individual members of the group based on the accessibility of their profile. That, and some groups allow you to post excerpts from your work in addition to links for all group members to see.

While I’ve found loops and groups extremely helpful and beneficial, there are some downsides. One is that they are extremely time consuming. While they are great places to post a question, reading every single blog post, interesting article or review can take up huge amounts of time. They give me a tremendous amount of guilt, because since I post my blogs on the loops, I feel obligated to read others’ posts as well. And comment, if I can. But doing so takes hours, literally, and while I’d love to do that every day, there’s just not enough time.

They also generate a ton of email, especially if you receive individual emails of every post. Just seeing the number of emails I receive, or the number of posts that I haven’t yet read in a Facebook group makes me sweat and stresses me out (ridiculous, I know, but...).

Many groups have specific rules that must be followed in order to remain a member. The rules are meant to make things easier for everyone, although I’ll be first to admit that I sometimes find them intimidating. The stricter the rules, the less likely I am to post, although I still read everything that I find of interest to me at a given time.

As a rule, I tend to filter what I read based on the subject of the message. I skip over the topics that aren’t as pertinent to me at the time, and read at least the first in the string of any topic that is pertinent to me. If I’ve done a lot of promo posts, I’ll try to make sure to alert other bloggers that I’ve read their posts or commented on it so that I don’t seem one sided or only a member who’s in it for myself.  But it all depends on time.

While loops are great time savers when looking for information or promoting something—it’s one message sent out to hundreds of recipients—they’re also great time eaters, and it’s important to strike a balance between posting on loops and writing!


  1. Yes! Loops--or Groups can be time consuming!! I know this one so well!! LOL!! The only requirement or restriction I have for my FB group is no "non-writing" blog posts. You know--the ones that talk about high tech stuff or want to sell you something or mlm crap. I can't stand that. That said--any kind of writing is welcome. You know fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, just don't sell the group Ronco Kitchen Knives!

    And yes the reading does take time---but I've told others to just make it fun for you. Not everything will be of interest to you. When it feels like work, time to walk away :)

    That said, I'm glad you're in the Writers' Post and I'm hope you have fun with us!! Cheers, Jenn

  2. I agree with you right down the line. I absolutely LOVE taking part in several groups for exactly the reasons you mentioned, but yes, they do take up a LOT of time. And like you, I am not comfortable to simply write and post without reading the contributions of the other members. I once left a group that I liked very much, simply because it became too time consuming and the group's leader required steady participation in order to retain membership.

    When I began GBE2, I wanted to make it very clear to members and potential members that this was to be a no-pressure environment. I want the writers to feel free to skip a topic--or ten--if they want, without guilt. I want them to know that it's perfectly okay to post when they want, read when they have time, and comment when they feel like it.

    There is a certain amount of built-in pressure, and that can't be avoided, no matter how flexible a group's guidelines are. Like you, I don't want to be the person who hopes to increase personal readership without reading the posts of other members. It's a balancing act, to be sure.

    All in all, the benefits of belonging far outweigh the hurdles, but there's no doubt that as terrific as blogging with the masses is, it definitely has its flip-side.

  3. I love the idea of having blogs linked one after another. It's as good as a reader, but has capability to comment on the blog without clicking to go there. But, I prefer the reader because it's the commenting that gets to me. I know a lot of ppl like to receive comments, so I try to leave one, but I'm not one of those chatty, bright people who are able to leave a comment to every blog I read. If I have a genuine comment, it flows from my finger tips. On the other hand, I find commenting hard if there is no more to say than "I enjoyed this blog"...which I consider trite and I do not like to appear shallow.

    Me...on the other hand... I don't care if people leave comments or not on my blogs. I appreciate a thoughtful comment, but I am equally lame in response. I don't do the comment game very well. FYI...if you happen to read my blogs, please do not feel obligated to leave a comment. I get my pleasure from my visitor counter! :-)

  4. In reading Jenn & Beth's comments, I realized that I had not addressed my group, BFF. My co-host, Tracie, and I decided that our group would be NO pressure. We post inspirations on Monday & Friday. There are NO time frames. They can post where they want and when they want. It is not unusual for someone to get inspiration after a challenge is over... In our opinion, it is quite alright to come back to the group and post a link for an inspiration that is already 2-3 weeks old.

    OK...I'm done. LOL

  5. I, too, spend lots of time reading (and commenting) on loops. While I fully believe in the benefit of mutual support, I sometimes wonder if there are actually any non-writing readers on those loops! Are we all preaching to the choir?

  6. I don't know, Jenn, Ronco knives sound pretty cool! :) Seriously, though, I do love your group and enjoy participating when I can.

    Beth (Word Nerd), yes, I agree that the benefits outweigh everything, and I definitely meet a lot of new people.

    Darlene, while I do try to comment, I agree with you that it's difficult to comment on everything. Especially without sounding trite. I tend to write short comments (as you can tell by my responses). And on my own blog, I LOVE the stats that show me how many people read which post--it's addictive!

    Jannine, I wonder the same thing. But I have to assume that even writers have friends :) who they will tell about a blog, author, etc. if they like their writing. At least I hope so!

  7. I belong to several on-line loops, but I have to admit the only ones I check regularly and read the lists of posts are the ones from my publisher. If there's a special event going on with the others, I'll tune in. It's not a lack of interest in the other loops, but the time consuming thing. As a part time writer with a full time job, if I'm on the computer, I want to be using most of that time to write. Promotion does need to have a part in my writing routine, but if I spend too much time on-line on the loops, I tend to get distracted and lose valuable writing time.

    I think loops are a great way to get yourself out there, make professional contacts, get support, etc. etc. I just wish there was a more time efficient way to deal with them all! (g)

  8. I join loops cautiously. They're fun, but big time takers. I'm like Debra. I work a full schedule (weekends, too), and I feel I should participate if I join. Great post, Jen.

  9. Excellent post, Jen.
    Online 'presence' is essential as a way of becoming 'known' and also promoting your work. It IS time-consuming, but it has its own rewards, quite apart from the 'promo' aspect.
    I've made many online friends through blogging, joining loops and FB groups so, although I might have joined them initially as a promo exercise, it's gone far beyond that. I enjoy them for their own sake.
    Writing can be a lonesome job, so it's great to be in contact with other writers (which I really enjoy, having written in complete 'isolation' 30+ years ago).
    It's a give and take process, as you say. If you don't contribute, or leave comments, you can't expect others to respond to you.

  10. Debra and Ana, obviously I agree with you. But Paula, you bring up a great point. Writing is a solitary pursuit. I think that might be one of the things I like about it. At the same time, though, it's SO nice to have people to talk to who are pursuing similar goals.

  11. I also work a lot of hours at 2 P/T jobs, plus have 4 kids and a husband. Finding time to write is hard enough! I do what I can on the various loops, and try to post whenever I have a new book out...but if I have to choose between writing and blogging, the characters talking in my head make it clear to me which one I need to do!

  12. Hi,

    The thing with loops and marketing, is keep it brief: hone sentences to the bone, post quick and move on to next! Just a case of keeping the contact going, your face in the picture. ;)

  13. Seriously now, I'm with Deb's. It's a time consuming task all this darn networking and it does drag you away from your writing. So how best to achieve a happy balance? If I knew the answer I'd be writing more novellas and doing less of the waffle on blogs etc., and penning a 90,000 - 100,000 novel.

    Right, that's it, I'm off to play with Diamonta Whitaker, her younger sister Leohne, Richard Courtenay Viscount Somerton and
    Francois De Boviere Count of Mont Saint Marche. Which do you reckon is the Highwayman from among the gents? ;)


  14. Fiona, yup, after dealing with my husband and kids, the last thing I need is my characters yelling at me!

    Francine, you're right, brevity is the key. And I'm voting for Richard.

  15. I also agree with's a give and take thing. If you support other authors, hopefully they'll return the favor and support you.

    I just REALLY wish there was a magical way to stretch time so I feel I can give my best to making connections and promotion and cranking out new work!

  16. Debra, I'm busily at work perfecting my cloning ability (that's why I haven't written much). As soon as I perfect it, I'll let you know! :)

  17. I totally understand what you're saying...I'm pretty new to the group, trying to get my "footing" (this is basically my 2nd writing group I belong to)...I agree, I am finding it very hard to make the time to read posts and comment. I found it hard to find the time to get on my home computer BEFORE I joined the is hard enough to keep up with FB and a couple blogs, which I post on sporadically as well. There are only 24 hours in a day, and you're right, trying to juggle all these things DOES take HOURS!! I am trying to find a balance myself. But I do feel guilty when I find myself having trouble reading/commenting on other members' blogs.

  18. So far I've found everyone has been understanding about not posting or commenting in the groups I've been involved in, so I think it's a pretty common problem. Good luck with finding the balance.

  19. Hi Jenn, great post! When you belong to a lot of loops sometimes you miss the Blog Promos. I missed yours which is why I am responding today.

    I agree with you that the stricter the loop, the less likely I will post and I usually end up leaving that loop especially if you are restricted to the comments and what you post.

    I have one loop that is wonderful, open and receptive and another that is completely dead. I don't know why the loop exist and I wonder if the reason is because the rules have become so strict. When did writers start censoring writers?

    It can be daunting to see all the comments, I usually choose digest so that I am not getting an inbox full of individual emails. That way I can just jump to the conversation I desire and respond to the appropriate person without going insane.

    While I can not hit every blog on the loop, I do try to support my fellow writers, even if it is not a topic I find particularly fascinating. A show of support is important whether they come to your blog or not.

  20. Hi Lizzie, thank you for stopping by! I like to support my fellow writers, as well, although I don't do it as often as I should. I find I stop by about 3-5 blogs a week and try to vary who I visit so no one feels badly. Hopefully once school starts and the kids are out of the house, I'll be better at visiting everyone. And I agree that strict rules, while necessary, probably do hinder responses (glad to hear it's not just me!). The digest is a great idea. I've always been afraid of missing something important, but I may try it with some of the loops I'm less active with.