Online groups became so important during the pandemic. I believe that in-person groups will continue to offer online options when life is more normal, and this is already being shown to be the case.
I appreciate very much being able to belong to groups online. A sense of community is so important in this often lonely life of a writer.
The groups I mention below are a fraction of what is available, but they are the ones I have experience with. I hope you’ll find someplace where you’ll feel “at home.”
The Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group — this ever-growing online group is a free opportunity for writers, illustrators and editors to share resources, encouragement, questions, and links of interest. It is a closed group, so people must request membership. I am honored to co-host this group with Emma Walton Hamilton.
KidLit411 Facebook Group — this amazing online group headed by Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu is another free community where writers, illustrators and editors share a plethora of information and support. It, too, is a closed group, so people must request membership. There is a manuscript swap group and a portfolio swap group in conjunction with the main KidLit411 Group, to allow writers and illustrators the change to give and receive feedback on their work. They also have a fantastic website, KidLit411.com, which is a compendium of links to information on pretty much any topic regarding writing or illustrating books for children. Their website has been listed in Writer’s Digest’s 100 Best Websites issue multiple times.
12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge and Community — Founded and hosted by author, writer-entrepreneur, and digital expert Julie Hedlund, 12 x 12 is an online group in which members are challenged, supported, and encouraged as they attempt to write twelve picture book draft manuscripts in twelve months. There are a variety of blog posts to provide encouragement and instruction. The two levels of paid membership allow differing intensities of participation — at the highest level, there is a monthly opportunity to submit to an agent. There is an active online forum and a Facebook Group for extra interaction. I was a member for the first three years the group was in existence, and highly recommend it, although my focus has turned to middle grade and adult fiction.
The Courage to Create (through The Writing Barn) — is an online group that accepts registrations only twice a year: at the beginning of March and at the beginning of September. It is led by Bethany Hegedus, founder of The Writing Barn, and is, in her words, “is made for writers seeking support in navigating the triumphs and challenges of living a literary life.” The presentations are excellent – uplifting, empowering and inspiring. I highly recommend it.
CBI Clubhouse (Children’s Book Insider) — CBI is an online compendium of information, learning tools, videos, and opportunities for networking for writers and illustrators of all levels of children’s books. It is a paid membership group. It was founded by Jon Bard and Laura Backes in 1990, and is still going strong under their leadership. I learn so much from the monthly newsletter and from the website.
SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) — This is a real life AND online international group for writers and illustrators of children’s books. If you can only join one group, make it this one! Their website is lush with resources and networking/connection potential, there are local/regional groups in which you can participate (all over the world), there are regional conferences, and there are two international conferences annually that should be on every children’s book creator’s bucket list. I have been a member of SCBWI since late 2010, and attended the international Summer Conference in Los Angeles in August 2011, and the virtual Summer Conference in 2020. I highly recommend membership in this group.