Dancing Word, the brain-child of writer Anne McDonald, originally started in 1999 as Christian Writers Web Community on the iUniverse website. Anne hoped to provide a spot where Christian writers could find articles, interviews, and other resources that would encourage them to hone their writing skills. Eventually the site branched out and became Dancing Word Writers Network.
With so many demands on our time, why should we bother to teach free online writing workshops or participate in author chats that don’t seem to directly benefit us? Because with every positive encounter with a potential reader, we have the opportunity to build a following. But even more so, we can have a profound effect on someone’s future.
When I started Dancing Word online eight years ago, my intentions were two-fold: to help authors promote their books, and encourage aspiring writers in their endeavors. Several established writers stepped up and offered to teach online workshops – willing to share their writing techniques and answer questions. At the time, none of them realized that one of the eager students who participated week after week would someday blossom into today’s best-selling author Susan May Warren.
Another regular chat participant – a hard core fan of one particular Christian writer – came to the chats promoting her favorite author, and decided to stick around. Over the course of months, she encountered other authors and sampled genres she’d never tried before. Her reading appetite now embraces many authors, and she’s on her way to publishing her own book.
Who might you help equip to write the stories God has placed upon their hearts?
So far, Dancing Word has hosted hundreds of online author chats and writing workshops. Presently we have a number of teen and young adult writers that have made themselves at home, eager to learn all they can. They’re also voracious readers that market favorite books via word of mouth.
Have you ever watched young people discuss their favorite authors? They’ll literally tell everyone about their literary discoveries. Books are passed from friend to friend and a new fan base begins.
My son, Jason, who has attended Dancing Word chats for years, has become a loyal fan of several of our past guests. Recently when I asked him why certain authors got his attention he said, “When I heard about their stories, I went, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta read that.’” He’s been pushing books by particular authors ever since.
Several times, when he received the latest release from one of his favs, he’d call each of his friends to goad them about it. Of course, they’d rush over to try to gain access to the book before Jason could read it. Sometimes it came down to friendly blows, bribery, bargaining, or just plain sneakiness. One particular friend had been an avid vampire story fan, but did an about-face when he encountered excellent Christian fantasy. My son ended up tackling him one day when he snuck out of our house with Eye of the Oracle. Jason agreed to let him read DragonSpell instead. Now his friend has started his own Christian fantasy collection. You can’t buy that kind of advertising for any price.
So when you make your marketing plans, be sure to consider live chats and workshops, even if they don’t seem offer overt financial gain. You don’t know what long-term rewards you’ll reap when you step out to plant a seed.