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Let’s ban how-to webinars for writers

No, I don’t really want to ban anything.

However, I think many webinars crafted for aspiring and emerging writers are taking a lot of our money for very little information.

  • How much does the webinar cost? $150. $250. $500? That seems to me to be a rip off from the outset inasmuch as those producing the webinar could sell the same number of tips in a paperback book or even a downloadable PDF for a lot less.
  • When you look at the number of facts in a webinar, you’ll quickly see that the number of words is very low when contrasted to, say, a pamphlet about the same material. Writers don’t earn a lot of money, so I wonder why we are being gouged with high prices.
  • Most webinars are not closed-captioned. So, if you’re hard of hearing–and if no transcript is offered–you’re paying for a presentation you cannot hear. That is to say, it’s worthless.
  • Webinars are linear. That is, they’re like a tape recording. You have to listen from beginning to end. That means you’re forced to hear the information you already know. Unlike feature films on CD, webinars usually don’t include a table of contents or any other way to access specific parts for the information you want.
  • When webinars include guests or panels, a lot of the introductory minutes are used up with that we used to call happy news chatter. That is, the participants introduce themselves, talk about each other’s work, and spend a lot of time (and your money) saying how nice it is to see each other.
  • If the information in a webinar we produced in print (or PDF) in a magazine format with subheads, you could quickly go to the information you don’t already know. That is, your eyes could see the entire presentation’s format in a fraction of the time it takes to laboriously listen/view the whole thing from beginning to end.
  • One thing many webinars don’t acknowledge is that some promotion techniques lend themselves more to nonfiction than fiction. So, they present promotion as an outgrowth of one’s business. This doesn’t work for fiction writers. Don’t get rooked into spending on a webinar focused on business owners who write books about their businesses when you’re looking for help with a novel.
  • Like many written presentations, webinars often spend a lot of time rehashing what aspiring writers already know. If the production included a table of contents, you could see how much of it was new and how much was old before you spent your money.

Frankly, I don’t understand the popularity of webinars. Other than the fact they cost a lot more money than the same facts in printed form, most of us can read faster than we can listen. We can scan a page of type in seconds, but a webinar moves along (relatively speaking) at a snail’s pace.

The advertising for webinars typically suggests that when you pay to listen/view, you’re going to see and hear secrets that are only known to those who created the webinar. Seriously, what a joke. Do you really want to believe some author you’ve never heard of when s/he says his/her webinar will turn your book into a bestseller? Let’s not be naive.

Malcolm

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5 Comments
  1. I agree on all sorts of points. Funny, yesterday I had the option of attending a webinar for work. I chose to do it, thinking maybe I needed to learn more about the topic. When it opened with information I already know, I kept reflexively reaching for the mouse so I could fast forward – which, of course, I couldn’t do. About halfway in, I exited out (or “bounced” as the kids say these days).

    July 11, 2019
  2. I loathe webinars and podcasts. Somebody considers what drivel they think you require then forces you to sit through it all. Very difficult to skip to the ‘good’ bits (if any) in the way that you can with a book, or even flip through the book to see if there *are* any good bits.

    I used to have a boss who communicated (?!) with his thousands of staff solely via podcasts. Squirm-inducing stuff. 😦

    July 12, 2019
    • I don’t know who thought this method of communicating up. Maybe it’s all PowerPoint gone bad, which wasn’t a long trip.

      July 12, 2019

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