How to Build a Writing Community

We’ve heard it before: writing can be a lonely affair. Maybe you enjoy your days spent in front of a glaring screen with a mug of tea and a potted orchid as your only companions. Or maybe it’s time to step out of the office and be a part of (or create) a thriving writing community.

We’ve asked panelists from the How to Build a Writing Community panel (coming to BinderCon LA), to share some of their favorite tips.

Let’s start with just being there. Lauren Eggert-Crowe says, “Show up. If you want to build community, participate. The more you show up to support other people at their readings and events, the more people will come to your own readings. Say yes to as many invitations as you can. Be a regular face in the crowd. The more you do, the more people you will meet, and the deeper friendships you will build with the people in the community. That’s how collaborations arise.”


If you’re feeling more ambitious, Siel Ju has some great advice: “Start a Literary Journal, Zine, or Other Publication. Yes, there are already thousands of lit zines out there — but if you’ve taken a good, long look around and still see a niche you’d like to fill, why not go for it? I wanted a flash fiction zine that sent tiny stories via email for easy reading by smartphone — so I started Flash Flash Click. Turns out, a lot of other people wanted a flash-via-smartphone zine too and started to subscribe!

Being the editor of a publication gives you a readymade reason for reaching out to writers you know, like, read, or admire from afar — as well as a reason to read more widely and discover new writers you’d like to be part of your community. So check out what’s out there, find a niche, and get that journal going.”


Find Local Literary Resources & Then Leave Your House

Michelle Franke says, “Writers! Take a moment to figure out what literary offerings are available in the city you live in, and in the cities you’re traveling to. Google bookstores (especially indies!) in your area and visit them. All of them. Support them with your cash and pick up their events calendars. Many bookstores are hosting writers reading their books all week, score! These events are often free, double score!! Find a city-wide literary events or cultural calendar online. This calendar might include lectures, performances, or a reading series. Once you know where the writers and readers will be, leave your house. Go see them. Get excited about what other people are writing and reading. Find out if writing workshops are available in your area. Take a class! Some are more expensive than others, so find one that’s right for you. That might mean an online option if you’re in the boondocks. That’s okay. Invest in yourself and your community quest. When you meet other writers and readers, ask what reading series, literary journals, websites, and events they like! And, as your community circle widens, leave a little time to celebrate the success of others. Share a publication, a reading, basically any good news. Because you know very well how hard pursuing what you love can be. This kind of support will make your community strong.


Build Around Love

Invite writers and community members you admire, and encourage them to invite writers they love and admire. So many of us have strong relationships with other writers, collaborators, and readers, and it’s good to celebrate those relationships. For my reading series, HITCHED, I ask a writer whose work I enjoy to feature and then I ask that person to invite someone they work with or collaborate with to feature with them. More often than not, the reading ends up being a love-fest, filled with exciting work and new faces. I guess my tip is to build around love.” -Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

To get more great tips, including Q & A, plan to attend BinderCon LA, March 19-20, 2016. Tickets are now available.

More info on the How to Build a Writing Community session at BinderCon LA:

how to build a communityHow to Build a Writing Community

(Siel Ju, Lauren Eggert-Crowe, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Sunyoung Lee, Michelle Franke)

Writing may require a room of one’s own, but many writers also seek to be part of a community — for inspiration, encouragement, and advice, as well as professional networking. This panel aims to empower writers to participate in — and even create — their own literary communities. Featuring community organizers of different backgrounds, in different fields, and with different motivations, this discussion will show participants how to go from feeling like the literary life is a solitary endeavor to becoming an integral part in a dynamic, real-life community.

Participants will leave the talk with an arsenal of tools for practical community building. Topics discussed will include: starting (and growing!) a reading series; evaluating the pros and cons of launching (yet another!) literary journal, changing the race and gender imbalances in publishing through local action; working with local universities; crafting a community around a small press; tag-teaming with an existing literary nonprofit; and assessing the needs of the community where you live.

Buy your tickets now >>



How to Promote Your Writing — Tips from Writers (Part 2)

Last month I asked our community of writers for their best tips on how they promote their writing. We collected a cadre of tips and posted them here: “How to Promote Your Writing.” But the tips kept pouring in, so just in case you haven’t completely nailed down every possible way to promote your writing, here are even more tips:

Mutuality Mindset

Julie Schwietert Collazo says, “I don’t love promoting myself–it doesn’t come naturally to me–so I like to look for natural partners and mutually beneficial opportunities. Last year, I spoke on a panel at The New York Times Travel Show about travel in New York State. I was invited to do so by the state tourism board because of my guidebook about the state. This is one of many ways that writers can get away from the screen and promote their work AND connect with natural allies who can promote and support their work (and whose work you can promote and support). You don’t have to sit around and wait for these opportunities to fall in your lap, either; you can go out and pursue them. Within your niche or genre, who/what is your natural partner? How can you work together to reach mutual goals?”

 Throw a Party

Lillian Ann Slugocki says, “I launched my latest book with a reading/party with four other writers. It got a lot of PR, we got listed in Poets and Writers, profiled in Time Out New York. I kept a blog and a month before the reading, posted interviews w/ the writers. It was great fun and it really worked.”

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee also does readings, signings and classes whenever her books come out, and adds, “The event is an excuse to send out press releases and announcements to local and national media to keep you and your work in the forefront long after it’s been published.” Cecilia ties in her events to the theme of her books including cooking classes for her cookbooks, and tastings and slideshows for her travel guides. She notes, “The more interactive the event, the better, I think.”

How can you make your book launch party or other event pop with a unique interactive component?

Enlist Friends & Get the Word Out

Laura Shin, a bit of a social maven, says, “When one of my ebooks came out, a friend suggested I ask family and friends to buy it around the same time to boost the ranking. I also participated in several Twitter chats and radio interviews to promote it and made sure to let all my sources know when it came out. Aside from the ebook, I try not to turn down any opportunities to speak at conferences or on webcasts or webinars as long as I feel qualified and have the time. I also share every story I write on all my social media platforms, including LinkedIn and Google Plus, and I tweet each story multiple times since I am sure not all my followers will catch my first tweet of a new story. And again, I share it with all sources since many of them will want to share the story with their network and audience as well.”

Don’t Write Books?

Melanie Padgett Powers says, “I don’t write books so I’m not out to promote my writing as much as my services as a writer and editor. I have found in-person networking invaluable. It really helps to meet people, and if they need your services plus they like you, they’ll be more likely to select you when looking for an editor/writer. People like to work with people they like. It’s human nature, so I work to build long-term, authentic relationships. No BS. I’m honest about what I can provide and how I think we can work together. Opposite of in-person, I find Twitter a valuable tool as well. It doesn’t work for everyone—I think you have to truly love Twitter and, thus, be willing to commit to it. I take part often in tweet chats, which allows me to network and show my expertise in certain areas. I also respond to tweets often. You can’t simply tweet about yourself all the time and not tweet to people. Twitter needs to be a conversation tool for it to be effective.”

Still More Tips & Resources:

Speaking of networking and finding natural allies, Join Us in L.A. on March 19 & 20, 2016 for BinderCon LA, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Sign Up for our email list for more great info & resources.

Get your Early Bird Tickets to BinderCon LA, there are only a few left!

Are you new to BinderCon? Check out our video booth from last year’s BinderCon LA:

BinderCon 2015 Video Booth from Out of the Binders on Vimeo.

Hope see you this March, in LA!



Episode Six: How Aparna Nancherla Learned to Work Well with Others

The BinderCast is the only podcast exclusively devoted to women and gender non-conforming writers and their careers. In each episode, co-hosts Lux Alptraum and Leigh Stein tackle the essential questions of making it as a writer. Produced by Jennifer Lai.

For many of us, writing is a lonely, solitary activity – so how do you make the transition to writing as a member of a team? Late Night with Seth Meyers writer and Totally Biased alum Aparna Nancherla talks about going from being a stand up comedian to a team member in a TV writers’ room, and what she learned along the way.

Subscribe to The BinderCast on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Further reading:

Aparna’s website

Aparna on Twitter

Why Comedian Aparna Nancherla Wants You to Stop Calling Her “Nice”

Defending the Bomb: Comic Aparna Nancherla’s Imperfectly Worded Tweet About Makeup


BinderCast Bonus: Emily Gould Reads Friendship

The BinderCast is the only podcast exclusively devoted to women and gender non-conforming writers and their careers. In each episode, co-hosts Lux Alptraum and Leigh Stein tackle the essential questions of making it as a writer. Produced by Jennifer Lai.

A special bonus for BinderCast listeners: here’s author Emily Gould reading from her book Friendship.

Hear our full interview with Emily in Episode One of The BinderCast.

Subscribe to The BinderCast on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts.


LA BinderCon Panel: Writing Without Pity: Disability, Illness and Our Bodies

Wondering what programming we have in store for you at LA BinderCon? We’ll be announcing all week – stay tuned for more (and be sure to buy your tickets while Early Bird level is still available!).

Writing Without Pity: Disability, Illness and Our Bodies
(Karolyn Gehrig, Eileen Cronin, Santina Muha, Lara Ameen, Sara Benincasa)

From misguided media mentions to flattened metaphor, disability and illness are often used to position narratives rather than represent reality. This panel will discuss the coverage and placement of disability in journalism, how to write personal narratives without pity, and the linguistic tropes we associate with disability, which no longer serve our lives.