Friday, April 14, 2023

How to Find a Writing Group or Publishing Partner Online

Some people feel Covid is behind us, some are still being cautious about in-person meetups. Whatever your preference, it's also sweet to have the freedom of online connections when you're a writer. Or maybe you're a new parent or travel a lot for work, and you can't imagine a schedule where you can meet physically with other writers. Such is our life now, or so it is for many of us.

If you're working on a book, as I've said often in these posts, you need ongoing support. It's very challenging to write, develop, and submit a book in isolation. It speeds and smooths the way if you have fellow book writers creating a community and lending their enthusiasm.

When I poll student in my online classes, at least half the group belongs to a writer's group or has a writing partner. Writing is solitary; it's easy to get a little nutso when you've been on your laptop, deep in your story, for hours without interacting with another human. I know this well! Even virtual interaction with someone else who gets it can ease your way back into your normal life. Fellow book writers also give needed perspective on what you've been doing (even if it's a universe in itself). And of course, there's the immense value of feedback along the way.

My writer's group meets monthly by conference call and we discuss one person's work each meeting. The work is sent ahead of time; most of us respond with "track changes" in Word but we also verbally share feedback on the call. We spend time connecting and updating each other on successes and struggles. Not only do these three other writers give me some of the best feedback and suggestions, I value our "hang out" time on the phone each month for the community it fosters.

Equally valuable to me is my writing partner. I met her at an online class. She lives a thousand miles from me but we exchange chapters for our books regularly for feedback. I liked her posts in the online class so afterwards I reached out. We stayed in touch, both finished our novels about the same time, got our agents. We're now exchanging chapters for our next novels. We've only met once in person, when I was teaching in her city.

I've been in several groups that met by email. My virtual writing partners worked well as long as we writers were at similar stages. Several disbanded because one or more lost interest in their project.

It took me a number of years to find and cultivate these virtual relationships. The first suggestion, if you're looking for one, is to find another writer with the same needs, at the same place in their process with a book.

I've shared this link before, but a solid resource that lists places to find writing partners was in The Write Life. The link is here. (If it doesn't work, go to their website and search for "find a critique partner.")

My second suggestion if you're looking is to decide what kind of writing relationship you need. Here are three options that have been useful to me:

1. Accountability partner. Students in my classes often paired up to be accountability partners after the class ended, just because they wanted to keep the momentum going. This just requires an email or text checkin each week: the writers just say, "Here's what I've done," and that's it. For people who need external accountability to do their creative work, this is gold.

Here's another great article (from Writing Cooperative) about the benefits of accountability partners. Other places to look: writers' forums, Scribophile, writer's groups in your area. Check out The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis ( and Grub Street in Boston ( for like-minded folk.

One of my past clients loved her daily checkins with a 5:00-a.m. club. Another student created her own--a group of writers who all checked in each morning (usually bleary-eyed) b before work and family took them over, to report on their writing. You can set these up on any number of online platforms.

2. Feedback partners/groups. Beyond just getting the writing done, eventually most writers eventually want feedback on their work. A slightly more delicate exchange, so it's vital to know and trust the writer(s) you're aligning with. Are they kind, truthful, and constructive? Do they actually like and support your writing? Are they able to commit to showing up (are they as dedicated as you)? Are you at similar stages with your book? It's hard to pair with other writers who are just beginning if you are deep in final revision, although I've done it when I have history with those writers already. Again, seeing everyone at work in a class is a great venue for testing this out.

Scribophile, mentioned above, is probably the most well-known avenue for finding feedback partners. You earn points towards feedback by giving it. I tried it for a few months but found too much disparity between my writing experience and those I interacted with. Many of my students are wild about what they've gotten from it.

Writer's conferences is another great venue to network and find simpatico groups. Grub Street's annual conference, The Muse and the Marketplace, groups writers by locale and genre and experience to create feedback groups.

3. Publishing partners. When you're starting to submit, it's wonderful to pair up with other writers who are also walking that difficult road. I valued my two publishing partners during my endless search for a new agent. We shared resources and encouragement to keep going. I even joined a "rejection" group on Facebook that really kept my spirits up, despite its name. I also found Query Tracker an encouraging community.

Publishing partnerships are perhaps the trickiest of all. Eventually someone in the pair or group succeeds first. It can create jealousy or all kinds of other feelings, so it's helpful to discuss in advance, to know how honest you and others can be about both their envy and congratulations, and how the newly successful writer will continue with the group, or not.

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