I seem to have corresponded with a number of writers over the past few weeks who tell me that writer’s groups are a waste of time and ineffective. This is in spite of the fact that I have been a member and facilitated the Berkeley Writers Group for several years and it continues to thrive. Still meeting face-to-face might not be for those of either softer or harder feelings than the Wednesday warriors who attend my group.
I believe the idea of an author’s life being a solitary one is outdated and ridiculous unless the writer chooses to walk alone. There are many options today that Mark Twain never had.
- A Master At His Desk
Since I last wrote on the topic, a number of online communities have come to light. But I want to put the spotlight on Author Salon, a new initiative aimed at helping authors prepare to pitch and market their manuscripts. It is a win:win community wherein the author is able to hone their work, while agents and publishers can delve in knowing these writers have done their due diligence.
When you sign up for Author Salon there are a lot of questions about your work. Often these questions make you look at your manuscript through new eyes. This is essentially the idea, that you see it not as the writer, but as the agent or publisher.
You will need to refine your pitch, synopsis, introduce your characters, clarify the overriding conflict and examine many other aspects. You need to plan for a few hours at least and this is only the first round.
Once you have completed your proposal, it is reviewed by peers and the Author Salon staff, all experienced agents or people who have worked in the publishing business for years. You get graded as your proposal is developed and this enables the agents and publishers who troll the site to know who is holding a more finished product.
This is not a get-rich-quick or silver bullet offer. Author Salon seems to hold pretty high standards and if you have a tender ego, perhaps you had better give this one a miss.
However, if your goal is to get published, if you fear your manuscript sinking into the publishers’ ever-growing slush pile and if you are willing to do what it takes, Author Salon might just be the answer.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).