There are several writers’ groups in the South County area where you can take your short stories, poems and novel chapters to be critiqued by other members and hear speakers talk about various subjects relating to the craft.
The new Sun City Center/SouthShore Author Meetup is not one of them.
The first meeting of the new group was held Wednesday, Oct. 7, in Sun City Center. The group will get together monthly but a permanent day and time have yet to be set.
Despite the name, group founder Adam Porter is hoping to draw writers from all over South County, from the Manatee County line to south Brandon.
This group isn’t to replace what’s already going on in other writers’ groups.
“There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel,” said Porter, himself an author and speaker. “We differ from other writers’ groups because we are not solely a ‘book talk’ group. Eventually we will get to a point where we’ll discuss authors’ books or passages, but not for a while and never entirely. There are other good book and author groups doing that already. They tend to focus on the book and less on selling the book.
“While it’s awesome and necessary to get help and feedback in the writing process, many [authors] don’t realize that the work just begins there,” said Porter. “Belonging to our group is in no way guaranteeing sales, but we are going to discuss the strategies of those with loyal followings. We’re here to find out how to get where we want to go with our work.”
Porter continued: “With indie publishing (self-publishing, including online e-books) there are approximately 40,000 new titles a month receiving their ISBN numbers. This makes it sound daunting, but there are a lot of ways to grab readers’ attention from among the pack,” he said. “The way the book looks, the title and cover and the synopsis are what make readers pick up one book and not another.”
“I use, ‘Where were you on Nov. 22, 1963,’ because unless you’re under 50, everybody remembers where they were when President Kennedy was shot,” said Bob Mills.
Mills, an expert on the John F. Kennedy assassination, has written nonfiction books published all over the globe in many languages. He is now taking that topic — and other conspiracy theories — into historical fiction.
The 11 charter members of the new group ranged from beginning writers to several published pros. One, Elysa Hendricks, has 16 published romances. Other members, including two former librarians and a writer of children’s books, have published hundreds of columns, articles and stories. Member Charlotte Knaub, a published pro, writes of her experiences as a former nurse in New Guinea.
“Those who haven’t ventured into publishing yet,” Porter said, “you belong here. There’s nothing wrong with doing it right the first time.”
Some very experienced writers have the idea that it takes a lightning bolt or some special meeting to get loyal followers. “Being right there at the right place at the right time,” said Hendricks.
But it was pointed out that a steady approach can mean making money, if you know the proper channels and steps, even if you never become a household name.
By the end of the meeting, those around the table each said they had learned something from someone else.
“This is going to be a working, real-time author’s resource rather than a testing ground for new material,” Porter said. “We’ll be talking about various ways to sell books, how to have launches, look for and seize opportunities. And we’ll be helping each other find things that have worked.”
Porter said he got the idea for this kind of group while working with Alice Boose of the Sun City Center Writers’ Club, which explains why most of the first members are from Sun City Center.
But the aim is to draw writers of all genres — fiction and nonfiction alike — from all over South County.
Thanks to Rosie Kofant of JSA Medical Group, a temporary meeting place was granted in JSA Medical Plaza.
“Who are your readers? How do we find out who we are writing for and how do you find a loyal group of them?” was one topic of discussion. Another concerned publicity and social media.
“We’ll take 10 specific points and examine them, like getting a group of qualified beta readers and how to be actively involved in both the writing and selling process,” Porter said.
Anyone in the South County area who is interested in learning about writing and sharing their own experiences is invited to attend the November meeting.
The temporary meeting place is at JSA Medical Plaza, 787 Cortaro Drive, Sun City Center. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.