Blog ReviewsBlog, Reviews
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2018

Getting the Most out of WritingForums.com

KarenB

If you are a writer looking for answers to your questions about writing, editing and publishing, WritingForums.com is a valuable resource. Privately owned and community managed, this website provides information on every aspect of writing, including fiction and non-fiction, poetry, the editing process, traditional publishing, and self-publishing. The website is forum-based, with over 20,000 members, 75,000+ threads, and over a million posts. WritingForums.com aims to offer a safe, friendly, and welcoming space where writers of all abilities can connect and learn from each other's experiences. There are opportunities to ask questions, exchange tips, engage in discussions, and share resources.

How it works

This website is run for by members, for members, with many active staff and volunteers involved in making sure everything runs smoothly. Community members act as administrators, supervisors, mentors, and moderators, and there's a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek page explaining what everybody does and how things run.

Once you've signed up for a free member account you can start browsing the forums, asking questions and responding to others' posts. You may want to start with the "Introduce Yourself" thread, where you can share as much or as little information about you and your writing as you'd like to. When you click on a forum name, the top few posts will often be pinned posts laying out some basic rules and guidelines for posting in that particular forum. Next, you will see the posts that have had the most recent activity. Many forums are very active with a lot of discussions going on throughout the day. You can search each forum using the search tab on the top right of the page.

The site offers both free accounts and paid subscriptions, and free members can upgrade to a paid subscription at any time. It takes a few minutes to make a basic, free account. In order to guard against spammers, new members will have certain features restricted until they have posted in the forums at least 30 times. They cannot, for example, post any promotional content, or share their work to the creative boards in order to get feedback on their writing.

The subscription service gives you immediate access to extra site features. Paid members can access hidden forums and a writers' chat room. They can also share their writing and ask for feedback from other members. A one-month subscription currently costs just $3 (USD) and a yearly subscription is $25. Subscribers who offer relevant services (such as publishing or editing) may also promote themselves in the Outside Resources section and other areas, allowing them to connect with writers who may need their services.

Navigating the site

Many of us have become accustomed to searching through Facebook groups and other social media threads to find the information we want. Compared to that, this type of forum-based site feels like a breath of fresh air. It is well organized, easily searchable, and simple to navigate. The forums are organized into broad categories, such as Community, Publishing and Verse, with clear titles, and one line descriptions, for each forum. Inside the forums, each thread has a title and a note of which member started the thread and when. You can quickly see how many replies there are and how recently each thread has been active.

At the top of the homepage you can access various pages such as new posts, rules and FAQs. There's also a page called Just Chill where you can go for off-topic discussions or to play some word games when you're on a writing break (or procrastinating). The whole site is searchable from a handy search bar at the top of every page.

Writing

The Writing forums cover a range of topics including:

  • General Writing Discussion
  • Research
  • Prompts
  • Challenges
  • Writing Competitions
  • SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
  • HATs (hints and tips)

While there is a general "writing related" forum, there are also forums covering verse, prose (fiction and scripts), and non-fiction prose.

Publishing

The forums within the publishing category are extensive and varied, offering information on a wide range of issues that writers and authors might encounter. They include:

  • A general publishing discussion
  • Beta reading
  • Editing
  • Traditional publishing
  • Self-publishing
  • Marketing
  • Calls for submissions

Writers with a range of experiences weigh in within the publishing forums, and it is possible to ask very specific questions. You can ask, for example, which cover design people prefer, or if other members have worked with a specific agent or publisher.

Beyond the forum

This is a specific category allowing members to reach out to each other elsewhere, and share resources. It also facilitates supporting each other's blogs and books, following each other on social media, and creating real-life writing groups. Topics include:

  • Author Interviews
  • Podcasts
  • Reviews and recommendations
  • Outside resources
  • The blogroll
  • NaNoWriMo support

Once again, you will have to prove you are a genuine member (by posting 30+ times or buying a subscription) before you have access to many of these features.

Feedback

Once you have proved you are a genuine community member, the site gives you a few different ways to get the all-important feedback you need to grow and improve as a writer. You can share your short stories, novel excerpts and poetry in relevant threads, and ask for feedback from fellow members. The site provides some useful advice on presenting your story for online critique that you should read first. There is also an opportunity to ask direct questions of the Writers' Forum mentors. The mentor directory lists experienced writers who are prepared to reach out and help new writers. You can view their area of interest and bio, and there is a link to message them directly with any questions you may have.

Competitions

Monthly competitions and challenges are run for both fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction challenges include essays, journalistic articles, opinion pieces, memoirs and travelogues. Fiction competitions will focus on a theme, and community members are welcome to suggest one. There are strict rules regarding word count and how entries are to be submitted, which can all be found in the Challenges, Contests and Prompts category. Winners are given an award and a month's free subscription, but just as valuable for many writers is the judges score and review, which is effectively free feedback and advice on your story or non-fiction piece.

A few things to keep in mind

Forum-based websites like this are incredibly useful, but they are also very prone to spammers looking for writers to sell their products and services to. It is with this in mind that the site insists on the 30 post rule before unlocking aspects of the site that could be open to abuse. You can always get around the rule with a paid subscription, which is very reasonable, but if you don't want a paid subscription, you will have to be patient and build up your posts, by making meaningful comments on others' threads. Short, meaningless comments posted purely to meet the post count may be deleted. Do not be tempted to get self-promotional too early. You may well be marked as a spammer if you do. Sharing a link to your blog or book will be possible, once you have hit the 30-post mark, but even then make sure it is done in an appropriate way and within a relevant thread.

Be aware that any writing you share on the creative boards will then be visible to other members and may be accessed by the general public. You always own the copyright to everything you have created, so this is not a problem, but do keep in mind how sharing your work here might affect future plans for publication or submission. Some publications will want work to be unpublished, and while posting in a forum for the purpose of feedback is not generally considered publishing, it is possible that some publications might not like the fact your work is freely available on the web. If you are sharing writing that is part of a novel, it is advisable to publish excerpts only. It is common practice to publish novel excerpts online or in print media in order to promote the work, but, with a few exceptions, it is not advisable to have your entire book available on a public forum. However, the site offers Workshops for members, which are not visible to the public or to search engines. This protects their future publishing rights.

The site is carefully moderated and posts that are abusive or offensive should be reported to the moderators. There is a strong commitment to making these forums a welcoming, safe, and helpful place for writers of all different abilities and experience levels. There is a list of rules that are designed to make sure all members are respected and comfortable. Remember if you post a piece of writing for critique you may well get negative as well as positive feedback, but it should all be constructive and respectfully offered. Taking on board what people don't like about your writing, as well as what they do, is part of how we all grow as writers. Both new and experienced writers have much to gain from a responsive and supportive platform like WritersForums.com.

Get in-depth guidance delivered right to your inbox.
Subscribe
Chat With Us