The minds behind the new Reddit sub-group, YAWriters, knew what they were setting out to create when they first thought of a new forum for writers. They wanted a place where, like their diverse team of writers on different levels of publication, people involved in all areas of YA could mingle and share knowledge in a peaceful, fun environment.
“We’re just authors who want to help authors, with no ulterior motives,” said Beth Revis, author of the Across the Universe series and a moderator on the YAWriters team.
The YAWriters team definitely is more than qualified to help other writers. Besides Revis, the other moderators include BBC writer Lilah Vandenburgh, author Julie Cross of the Tempest series and writer Nicky, who goes by the name ZisforZombie. With such a broad range of interest and different background stories, all of the writers can offer advice on different scenarios, and know what pitfalls to avoid.
“There are a lot of places where authors are taken down the wrong path. A forum that is biased toward one form of publication or another, or one that’s run for profit – we’ve done surveys to see what readers want, and we are pretty much working towards making a community that is thriving, lively, and supportive of authors,” said Revis.
“YAWriters is geared towards published authors and those aspiring to publish professionally, be it through traditional means or self-publishing. People here are self-motivating. They’re writing and finishing manuscripts, not dreaming about one day putting pen to paper and starting that novel. It’s a supportive place geared towards sharing ideas and methods to help everyone learn and improve. Traditionally published, self-published and unpublished authors alike are treated as equal contributors,” agreed Vandenburgh.
Reddit can be described as the Internet’s bulletin boards. Hundreds of users browse the forums each day, and discuss topics from near-death experiences to current news events. Using this social media network as their foundation, YAWriters hopes to be able to cultivate a feeling of diversity, openness and a readiness to grow. So far, it seems to be paying off.
“The YAWriters subreddit is currently reaching near 1,000 members. [This] includes people from all aspects of YA writing – editors, agents, published authors, self-published authors, those who are agented or aspiring, and more. There really is something for everyone, and a wide variety of resources are available,” said Revis proudly.
Many writing forums have gotten a reputation of being bogged down with endless posts of self-promotion, bordering on spam. YAWriters has already prepared for this type of problem, and set guidelines in place that for members to follow. While there are times and places for people to link to their social media and work, the focus isn’t on naked self-promotion, but on helping writers.
“I think YAWriters is an important resource for writers as it seeks to demystify publishing and emphasize craft. But there’s also that community aspect, similar to a workshop setting. The format offered by Reddit seems to work well for both,” said Vandenburgh.
YAWriters operates on a schedule of scheduled events and open discussions. Visitors to the forum will see a schedule for AMAs, or “Ask Me Anything” sessions, made famous by Reddit posts where celebrities are asked questions on different topics.
Recent YAWriters AMA sessions have included more popular names in the YA writing community, including agent Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary and popular self-published author Leigh Ann Kopans.
“Once, we had a trauma nurse who gave advice on how best to wound our characters,” laughed Revis.
The board tries to host an AMA session on Mondays with a follow-up focused discussion on Thursdays. Other features include periodic one-line pitch and full query critique sessions.
“Those get fun and rowdy. They’re our most popular feature, and people do seem to get a lot out of them. We also do writing sample crits. We even do a weekend open thread just for people to socialize and rant about their work-in-progress,” said Vandenburgh.
Cross plans on starting new “YA Phenoms” discussion series, where readers will dissect a book or genre to find out what made it successful.
YAWriters is not a member-exclusive hangout. Writers wishing to join in with the threads will only need to register under Reddit, but after that, the forums are open to them to mingle as they please.
“Don’t be shy! Join the conversation whenever you want, participate as much or as little as you want,” encouraged Revis.
“We want as much diversity as possible. We have writers of all ages and stages of development,” Vandenburgh added.