Monday, 29 June 2009

Writing newgroups: worth the time?

I've been pretty busy lately, not only with my book on medieval guns but also with my latest novel, which is finally gathering momentum. Blogging at Gadling takes a chunk of time every day too. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and decided to cut out something from my work day. I've gone No Mail on all of my writing newsgroups except for the one for Damnation Books, which I'm using to get aquainted with my fellow authors, and a gunners group I need for my book research.

Until I did this I didn't realize how much time I spent on these groups. Even skimming through them takes a decent amount of time every day, and when you add it up over the course of a month, it's just too much.

Newsgroups have their place. I've made some good cyberfriends and even gotten a bit of work through them, but I'm beginning to feel they cost more time than they're worth. So much of the talk tends to repeat itself: how to find an agent, copyediting questions, self publishing, and endless debates over ebooks. This is all useful for beginning writers (although there's a lot of misinformation out there too) but I'm thinking midlisters don't really get much out of them. Perhaps there needs to be a midlist newsgroup?

What do you think? Are Yahoo and Google groups for writers worth the time?


Lisa said...

I'm on a couple of LinkedIn groups. Sometimes they are worth the time, because I don't have an agent for my book yet.

It all depends on whether you need to learn something new or not. If you don't know a thing about e-books, for example, you can ask other writers for ideas: what worked, what didn't and what to watch out for.

Sean McLachlan said...

Newsgroups have been helpful to me in the past, but there's a high signal to noise ratio like with everything on the internet. I find reading Publishers Weekly and chatting privately with other professionals to be far more helpful. The vast majority of people on newsgroups are beginners, and so that's the way the conversation is skewed.

Another thing I find useful is reading how to write books, because I can still learn things from the good ones. I just reviewed an excellent one at

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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