The first rule of Write Club is: you do not talk about Write Club.
The second rule of Write Club is … wait! Perhaps we should talk about it??
Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about what is acceptable behaviour in writing circles and what is considered bad manners. Perhaps you’ve already broken some Write Club rules.
Dare to read on? Are you tough enough to take a punch to the face and come back fighting. Yes? Then chew on these, suckers (Arf)! Enjoy …
Writers Shall Not Ask Other Writers to Write Their Book for Them
This should be obvious but clearly it isn’t, because I’ve had a few people contact me and the first line they write in the message is … ‘Can you write my book for me?’ (!!)
ERM NO! Hire a ghost writer, that’s what they’re for! I recommend John F McDonald. PLUS, if you want to turn your novel into a screenplay, why not try Elinor Perry-Smith?
Writers Shall Not Send Unsolicited Material
Seriously, this is like meeting someone for the first time and forcing food into their mouth without asking if they want some. Don’t do it. What’s more, don’t send unasked-for stuff to industry pros like literary agents either, you’re wasting your time!
Writers Shall Not Ask Other Writers For Reviews
Think about who you are asking this favour of and whether they actually have time to spare. Many writers also have a day job, so their time is extremely precious. HOWEVER, book bloggers are actively looking for books to review … it’s a question of looking in the WRITE PLACE! Doh!
Writers Shall Not Spam Everyone Up The Arse
There’s a thin line between marketing and spam. KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. Yes, yes writers love to help fellow writers, but AGAIN, remember it’s book bloggers you should be targeting.
So, don’t use your social media simply to try and flog your blog, plus always remember another person’s online space is like their house. Don’t plaster posters up over it without asking, this is the sort of thing that annoys the crap out of people online.
Writers Shall Not Advertise in Comments & Threads (unless asked)
Three words, ‘move to trash’. Just like rule 4, this practice is SPAM too! DON’T lose your credibility as a writer online.
Writers Shall Not Ask to Read Someone’s Work In Progress (WIP)
Can I read your manuscript? Ha! No. Most writers have a group of beta readers. Professional writers need to earn a living. They can’t give work away. Hobby writers may say yes to your request but learn to tell the difference. Would you ask a chef for their recipes before they publish the cookbook or would you wait and buy the book?
It should be the same for novels. Peer review is okay, muscling in is not. If you can’t tell the difference then do what I do, don’t ask, drop subtle hints and wait for them to offer!
Writers Shall Not Ask for A Free Book
Many people don’t stop to think about cost. Is it free to put a book together? No. Asking for a free book is like asking for money. Most of us can’t really afford to write books, we do it because it’s who we are.
If you enjoy the work then please support your writer friends by paying 99p for an ebook. I love paperbacks but if I can’t afford one I will spend 99p for an ebook. Most of us can do that. (Psssssst if you still want a free book, then look out for competitions and giveaways on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve won a few books this way).
Writers Shall Not Enter into Spam Wars
Writers who constantly plug their books think this is good exposure but trust me, it’s NOT. Find someone who loves your book and ask them to push it. Chances are they may do this already!
If an author constantly posts the same thing over and over, no new info, nothing different to say – people switch off. Find a new and exciting way to get people thinking about your book. Change it up.
Writers Shall Not Ask for Free Editing
Editing and proofing are REALLY IMPORTANT. Don’t skimp on this by trying to be a cheapskate. There are lots of cost-effective services around, LIKE THIS ONE, or THIS ONE.
Writers Shall Not Ask for Access to Agents or Publishers!
You should NEVER message a writer out of the blue and ask them to put you in contact with their publisher/agent. I can’t emphasise this point enough.
Effective networking means friendship and trust. Example: I made friends with a writer. Exchanged feedback. She was searching for a publisher. I knew someone. I contacted them on her behalf. She submitted her work. She now has a book deal.
A month ago, this writer didn’t know me and this month she landed a book deal via me. Then, I got the chance to pitch my work because of this same writer’s encouragement.
Remember: friends first, favours second!
Concluding: It’s difficult to navigate the writing world without knowing the ‘rules.’ I hope I’ve made it a bit clearer for newbies and in avoiding these pitfalls I’m sure you’ll find every success on your writing journey.
The first rule of Write Club is: you should definitely talk to everyone about Write Club.
Emma Pullar is a bestselling and award-winning writer of dark fiction and children's books.
She supports Bang2write, The London Screenwriters' Festival, and Into the Script.
Follow Emma on Twitter @EmmaStoryteller or Instagram @emmapullar_storyteller or fb Emma Pullar.
You also find her on Linkedin.