Busy TAA People: Bill Koenecke forms local writing group

Bill KoeneckeAfter learning that there was no local writing group in Murray, Kentucky, retired Murray State University professor and aspiring textbook author William Koenecke decided to start his own. His first writing group meeting, held Sunday, March 15, attracted 26 authors or aspiring authors, many more than the 5-10 he was expecting.

“We had ‘tons’ of questions during our first meeting, which lasted an hour and 15 minutes,” he said. “One piece of luck is that many of the people who attended Sunday’s meeting have MUCH more expertise and experience in writing and publishing than I have at the present time.”

Koenecke, who has been writing an English grammar, punctuation, and writing book for almost five years that is now close to completion, said he wanted and needed the help of a writing group to accomplish that long-term goal.

He and writing group co-facilitator Ken Tucker, a retired Murray State University English professor and author of 10 books, have big plans for the future of their writing group, but right now they are working to spread the word. The writing group has been featured in The Murray State News, and has received attention from the Murray Ledger & Times. He and Tucker will be interviewed on the WNBS Radio Morning Show on March 31. They are also distributing flyers around town and trying to promote via word of mouth. Koenecke has talked to many people at MSU, the local library, and ten public libraries in towns 30 miles or less away, in addition to the MSU Library, the MSU Bookstore, deans and department chairs, and select faculty at MSU.

Because the group has attracted writers from several different genres, they plan to create sub groups led by team leaders that would meet in between full meetings each month. Each sub group, he said, “would set their own goals, read each other’s writing, push each other, praise each other, cry together when their work is rejected, celebrate when their work is accepted, etc.” The team leader would give a brief progress report at the full monthly meeting. To help create a more formal structure to the meetings, Koenecke created a questionnaire that will be used to determine some of the meeting’s activities. He also plans to attract speakers and hold Q&A sessions.

He shares this additional advice for others wanting to start a local writing group:

  • Be sure to have some experts in the group who have a successful track record in publishing.
  • Be humble and if you do not know the answer, just say you don’t know. “People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” he said. “Do all you can to help each other succeed.”

The second writing group meeting, which will be held Saturday, April 18, will feature author and publisher Cora Seaman, who will speak on “the good, the bad, and the lovely of writing and publishing.” If you are in the Murray Kentucky area and would like to attend the next writing group meeting, it will be held from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Emeritus at Murray, 905 Glendale Road.

Click here to view Koenecke’s writing group questionnaire

About Kim Pawlak

Kim Pawlak is Director of Publishing & Operations for the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). She has been writing about the textbook and academic authoring and publishing industry for 20 years.