The Online World

Today I’m posting about the online world that is becoming increasingly important to writers. Not only can we email submissions and check out publishers and agents guidelines with a few clicks of a mouse, but we can also become active within a community that helps us to develop as writers, whether we are published or still at the very start of our journey.  Have a read of my post and feel free to make comments on this topic…there we go, already a benefit to being online!

I’d like to start by talking about conferences.  These events are a great opportunity to network, make new friends and learn even more about the craft of writing. But what happens when you can’t make the conference itself?

The Claytons 2013 is what happened for me! I was unable to make the RNA Conference this year – well, I do live in Sydney, Australia, so understandable really – and I couldn’t make the RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) conference either as it was held in Freemantle, WA so it worked out a bit too costly to attend.  The Claytons 2013 is an online conference organised by the RWA for those who are unable to attend the actual conference for whatever reason.

I was a bit dubious about what this experience would bring and wondered whether I would get much, if anything, out of the experience, but I shouldn’t have worried. The Claytons 2013 was an unforgettable experience. It was held in the chat rooms for RWA members and began with a cyber-cocktail party which was heaps of fun as we all thought about what we would ideally like to drink, brought to us of course by the heroes dotted around the room albeit in our imaginations. The organisers used word play games to get the chat happening although just like an actual conference, you can probably imagine that a group of women didn’t need much encouragement there! To keep order at the conference, which took place the following day (thankfully only cyber hangovers to deal with!) the organisers also gave cues as to when we needed to quieten the chat room ready for a presenter.

Guest speakers at the conference delivered everything and more. We heard from Alexandra Sokoloff, American Novelist and Screenwriter; Valerie Parv, Australia’s Queen of Romance who has sold 25 million copies of her books worldwide; and finished the conference on day two with a question and answer session with Charlotte Ledger from Harper Impulse.

The wealth of experience and knowledge that presenters and delegates brought to the online conference made it an overwhelming success. The conference left me motivated and with so many ideas on how to develop my writing.  As well as the serious stuff at the conference, there was a lot of fun as there would be at a physical conference. There were giveaways of critiques, novels, homemade coasters and not to mention a random giveaway of an e-reader for one lucky delegate (I still can’t believe that it was me!)

As well as online conferences, writers utilise many other tools at their disposal. Some writers hold virtual launch parties for their books and the views seem divided as to whether this helps or not. I would love to hear from anyone out there who has either held an online launch party or who has attended one.

Being a part of The Write Romantics has shown me just how much support writers can get in the online world. I have never met any of the ladies on this blog but I feel as though I know them pretty well. I can email when I’m feeling low about my writing, share any joys that come my way during the journey and take comfort in similar experiences by sharing knowledge. 

I must admit that I’ve had a Facebook account for a long time but it’s personal and used for sharing news and photographs with close friends and family. But, with the online world comes a Facebook “page” on which we can promote our writing to anyone. I guess it’s kind of like sticking up a poster to advertise oneself as a writer and then being able to paste it to noticeboards all over the country and internationally as well. I wonder, has anyone had much experience with a Facebook page? Has anyone found that it’s a good way to build a reputation as an author and to gain a fan base?

And then we have Twitter which I have found is a good way again to share knowledge – plenty of people I follow add links to their Tweets and as I follow many writers, agents and publishers, these links are a great learning tool with hints and tips including how not to approach and agent, calls for submissions, as well as reviews of other authors and their work. It’s also a great way to get to know a little bit about an agent if you’re thinking of approaching them for representation. Not only does it help to discover their personality traits and perhaps indicate whether you could “gel” in your professional relationship, but it also helps you get to know the sort of writing that they represent.

Some writers whom I’ve followed on Twitter do tweet a lot of “Please buy my book” type pleas, but the writers whom I admire the most engage in conversation if I complement their books and that to me generates a huge amount of respect for them and their work. It’s also a big encouragement for me to buy whatever they write next. You know what it’s like: with favourite authors I rarely read the blurb, I just buy the book and dive straight in.  

The online world enables us to communicate with editors, agents and of course readers from just about anywhere. The online world has linked writers, agents and publishing companies from all over the world and long may it continue to do so in a profession where it’s easy to feel lonely and as though you’re walking solo on a journey with an unknown final destination.  

Please share your thoughts and views on this post…and I will of course respond!

Until then…happy writing!

Helen R x


4 thoughts on “The Online World

  1. Hi Helen
    The virtual conference sounds like a wonderful experience. What a great way to meet people! I love the idea of a cyber cocktail party – although I think I’d have wanted to have a real cocktail on hand to help me through the initial icebreaking part of the party.
    I think the online world is a fabulous way to get in touch with other writers and I wish I’d discovered Twitter sooner. And as you know I love being part of the Write Romantics and being able to share the highs and lows of writing with you all.

  2. Hi Alex,
    I must admit I did get into the cocktail party with a glass of red!
    I was reluctant to join Twitter but it’s been fabulous for learning about writing and publishing, what agents look for (I can recommend #askagent) and even for finding books to read by authors I hadn’t heard of before.

  3. Hi Helen, apologies for only just getting an opportunity to read this. Great post and really interesting about the cyber conference. I had no idea that it was something RNA did. Was there a cost to it? I’m thinking it may be interesting for next year. Also, huge congratulations on the e-reader win – nice one!

    I’ve got into blogging but I really need to make more of Twitter. It’s finding time. I struggle to find time to write, nevermind everything else I know I should be doing alongside it. But, one day, I’ll get there …

    Delighted to have you as part of the community and love that we can all support and help each other.


  4. Hi Julie,
    The cyber conference is organised by Romance Writers of Australia and it’s held on the same Saturday of their actual conference. 2014 will see the RWA conference back in Sydney…which means that I can go! (and I’ll be at the RNA conference too as I’m visiting family at that time).
    There was no cost to delegates and it was a full on day plus a Sunday question and answer session and I learnt so much in such a short space of time.

    I can definitely recommend Alexandra Sokoloff’s book, “Writing Love”, which I’m making my way through now. It gives so much help on structuring stories, writing the all important premise for our story, story ideas, heroes and heroines and endings. What I really liked about Alexandra’s book was that she analyses so many of the films that I have seen multiple times and the examples really help to make sense of the theory that she discusses. There is a chapter on using the “index card method” and I intend to use this on the novel I’m working on at the moment as soon as I get to the end of my first draft.


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