In my Salonniere column (an homage to my role in the salon of women writers that gave rise to She Writes), I will be talking about the growing intersection between creativity and community. How do social media tools impact writers? And what are the challenges and opportunities these intersections present?
But before I do that, I am going to do a series of posts focused on this community right here: our growing community of women writers. It's been about eight months since Debbie and I flipped the "on" switch for this network, and our approach up to now has mostly consisted of observing the activity here (sometimes with delighted incredulity, sometimes with concern) and responding to questions and issues as they've come up. By now, however, certain clear themes have emerged, and it is high-time that I invited all of you to participate in the conversation I'm starting today—Where To, She Writes?
To kick things off, I am going to list what Debbie and I see as the primary issues/topics at hand. Please comment, add, or otherwise weigh in, and next week (or maybe sooner, not sure I will adhere to the once-a-week thing, founder's privilege), I will refer to your feedback as I formulate my take on the matter.
ONE: The Great Self-Promotion Debate
. What constitutes "good behavior" on She Writes, and where does promoting one's writing fit in here? What is the line between self-promotion and sharing good news? What do we mean by "self-promotion" exactly, and—very important, I think, as I care deeply about the success of the writers assembled here—does it work
, and if not, what does? Finally, what should the "rules of the road" be for our community when it comes to comments, e-mail, "friending" and otherwise participating in the site?
TWO: The Man Question
. How do you feel about the presence of men on She Writes? I am all for it, for the reasons I gave
in our "About" section, but I know not everyone agrees. Why not? What do you think our policy should be about having male members on She Writes? And why the "She" in She Writes in the first place? (If I had a nickel for every journalist who's asked me that I would have...about fifty cents. I have not been interviewed by that many journalists.) And to the men who are here: what do you think? What drew you to She Writes?
THREE: "Emerging" and "Established" Writers—Do We All Belong In the Same Place? (And How Do We Know Who's Who?)
A few weeks ago, I gave a talk to an extremely elite group of women novelists. So elite I was glad that I did not know all of their names until after they'd already asked me a raft of smart, sharp and challenging questions about how She Writes might fit into their writing lives. One concern was that if they joined a network like She Writes, they'd simply be expected to give—their knowledge, their contacts, their blurbs, etc.—without being clear about what they'd get. The "emerging" and "established" question raises another issue, too: can She Writes meaningfully serve writers who fall into both categories? Can our community, our services and our platform give both new writers and writers with ten critically acclaimed novels what they need?
FOUR: Communications. How Often Do You Want To Hear From Us? What Do You Want To Hear About?
This is a tough one for us, especially as we grow, as it's unlikely that any two She Writers would have the exact same answer to this question, much less nearly eight thousand. Some of you really dislike seeing "She Writes" in your inbox, some of you like it a lot. Each and every time we message all of you, we agonize quite a bit, afraid of spending good will, but equally afraid that the amazing content and relevant goings-on here aren't being as well-explained or clearly communicated as they ought to be. In this post I'll also add some practical how-to guides for setting your She Writes e-mail settings, privacy controls, and opting out, or in, of our communications with you.
FIVE: Where To, She Writes?
Sometimes I think of She Writes like a house—we built it, and you came. (Thank you!!) Lately, however, I have been thinking of She Writes less like a destination, and more as transportation—something that can take us into the future of publishing. This is the part where I get out my crystal ball, and would love to know what you see when you look in yours, too. Where is publishing headed, and how will She Writes, and its sister network She Reads (not yet launched, but always part of the plan), fit in?
I hope this provides food for thought, and that these questions resonate with you, too. Next week I will dive into the first one: The Great Self-Promotion Debate. Should be a doozy.