The Complete Guide to Writers Groups That Work

Today I have a talented writer, B.J. Taylor , in the blog studio with me. Between writing on assignment for Guideposts, she has been published in Writer’s Digest and a multitude of Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Other credits include articles in Romantic Homes magazine, Victorian Homes magazine, Angels on Earth and Lexus. An accomplished speaker and a member in three active writers groups, she has conducted numerous workshops for writers—including one up-coming engagement at the Yosemite Writer’s Conference.

She recently completed a book titled, The Complete Guide to Writers Groups That Work. For the next two days we will be discussing her book and we will include an excerpt on Wednesday.

MD: Why did you write this book?

BJ: I was taking writing classes at a local college. It was just what I needed to fit writing into my life—it gave me deadlines and made me accountable. Then the classes ended. I knew I’d stop writing the first time I was rejected. It’s just so hard to stay positive without support and encouragement, so I started a writers group.

MD: What is the concept behind the book?

BJ: Successful writers don’t write alone. Yes, writing is a solitary effort, but if you want to get your work published, you need constructive, unbiased critiques. A writers group can suggest a different opening or hook, encourage you to try new word choices, guide you in polishing your writing to grab an editor’s attention, and empower you to find success. A writers group can elevate your writing to a quality level—a level that will get noticed by editors and agents—and that will increase your chances of getting published.

MD: Why did you decide to self-publish?

BJ: Many publishing houses will not take on a “niche” book such as Writers Groups That Work. After trying for quite a while to get it picked up by a publisher, I researched self-publishing. There is no longer a stigma associated with self-publishing. Even the big publishing houses are taking notice of self-published books. Many great books, like Bridges of Madison County and The Christmas Box, were originally self-published and later became bestsellers. And then there was the cost. It used to be that prices were pretty steep but costs have now plummeted with print on demand, and the quality of a self-published book is equal to a book put out by larger publishing houses. You can also make anywhere from 50-70% profit on each book sold.

MD: What are the advantages and disadvantages to self-publishing?

BJ: The advantages of self-publishing include complete control over the finished product: you design the cover (they’ll help you if you want), you set up and format the interior, you can include quotes or sidebars or text boxes. You write the back cover text and can include a photo of yourself and a biography as well. This is your book and you control all aspects of the publishing process.

The disadvantages of self-publishing encompass the considerable amount of time and attention which will be required for each and every detail of the finished work. But when you love something as much as you do your project, you won’t mind devoting time to it.

The book can be purchased through Infinity Books and here.

Stay tuned for more from B.J. tomorrow. Same bat time. Same bat channel.


B.J. Taylor said...

The interview was fun! Thank you for posting it on your site. BTW, I love both of your dogs, but that skateboarding one is a kick.

Merrie Destefano said...

Thanks for dropping by, B.J.

And thanks for allowing me to interview you. I believe a good writer's group is a crucial element to achieving publication and I'm sure this book is going to help a lot of people.

You'll have to keep us posted on how the book does!


Anonymous said...

Merrie, thanks for interviewing my good friend, B.J. Had she not been so positive in her comments about my writing and encouraging me to continue to put words on paper, I would have tossed my dream in the round file and been miserable! I'm not published in the fiction world yet; but when my work is accepted, it will be a testament to her loving guidance. I'm hoping her book takes off like wildfire!

Merrie Destefano said...

It was a pleasure! And I know what you mean. Having someone to support you in the creative process is so important.

I think the book, The Complete Guide to Writers Groups That Work, will be a welcome tool for writers who want to develop a nurturing environment for creative endeavors.

Thanks for dropping in, NanCC! I hope we hear more from you later.

Julie Garmon said...

B.J., you're helping so many writers follow their dreams--me for one.

Way to go, my friend!


B.J. Taylor said...

Nancy, Julie and Merrie, too,

Supportive, encouraging and motivating -- that's what you are to me. Thank you.


Sunny said...

BJ - Your book is just wonderful.. easy to read and understand and so helpful for the new writer just starting out as well as an established writer who has never had the pleasure of being in a writer's group. Thanks for covering such an important topic so thoroghly ..

Sunny Karas

Merrie Destefano said...

Already, you have a fan club!

I really can't wait to see the results you get with this book. I know from personal experience how important it is to have a core group of people you can trust with your half-born ideas.

Julie and Sunny,
Thanks for stopping by and letting everybody know how you feel about B.J.'s book.

B.J. Taylor said...


Glad you found the book easy to read. It's my pleasure to share the wonderful experiences of success from the three writers groups I am in. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Merrie's blog.


Sallie said...

I know BJ's book will be a huge success, this is exactly what writers need, even if they don't know it yet:) Congratulations to her on seeing this project through all the stages of its growth. I can tell by her answers she has a lot of passion for the subject matter. I loved reading your interview and since B.J. has encouraged me to keep writing many times when I felt like giving up, I love seeing her on your blog. B.J., you go girl! Thanks, Merrie!

Merrie Destefano said...

Sallie said, B.J. has encouraged me to keep writing many times when I felt like giving up...

I know what you mean, Sallie. B.J. has done the same for me, too. I think it all comes down to the fact that we all need a cheerleader, someone to champion our cause even when we are weary of the race.

Thanks for stopping by, Sallie!

And everybody else, I'm going to post the second part of B.J.'s interview in a couple of minutes.

Catherine Madera said...


I'll never forget the first time I talked to you about writer's groups in New York. For the first time I thought seriously about joining one and have never regreted it. It changed my writing life totally! Thank you so much, and for your continued encouragement and words of wisdom. This book is a wonderful tool for writers. Catherine

Meg said...

Congrats on your wonderful book! I've learned so much from my online group- which you encouraged me to join. And now I'm thinking of starting a face-to-face group. I read your book cover to cover, and your wisdom will help me immensely.
Wishes for lots of success to you!

Merrie Destefano said...

Thanks for dropping by and sharing how BJ and her book have encouraged you!

Blessings on your journey as a writer--