The Beginner’s Guide to Discord

Welcome to HOWLS!

Welcome to the most active horror book club on the internet! Our Discord is quite large and can be overwhelming for new members, especially if you’re new to Discord, so we wrote up this little guide to help you out.


How the club works

HOWLS is a book club, but it’s also a community! We hang out, write together, publish anthologies, and of course, read books. Here’s a quick guide to how it works.

The Book Club

We read one book a week, chosen by our members. You are not required or expected to read every HOWLS book. Most of our readers read 1-2 books per month, according to their ability. You should never feel guilty about skipping a book!

In a typical month, HOWLers who have been a part of the community for awhile are chosen to curate book lists, from which the following month’s club books will be chosen. Each list corresponds to one week. For example, @Asenath curated a list called “Women’s Short Fiction” for the second week in September 2020. She chose five short story collections written by women and presented them to the club, and then the club voted to read Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.

For most books, we divide the book into three equal parts and then discuss them on different days. Usually, we discuss the first third of the book on Monday at 12pm EST, the second third of the book on Wednesday at 12pm EST, and the end of the book on Friday at 12pm EST.

The Writing Community

We also have a thriving writing community! We have lots of authors at various points in their career who like to swap stories for feedback and boost each other’s work. Be sure to check it out if you’re an author!

Since 2021, we have also published an anthology every year. This is a community effort, written and produced by our own community members. Usually, interested authors will start workshopping their submission in the summer, and then submit it in the fall, and the anthology will come out around May the following year. Workshopping is intensive, but it’s an important part of our community, since it brings all of us together!

The Different Areas of Discord

Firstly, let’s take a look at the Discord interface.

This is a screenshot of the desktop app. In the yellow area on the left, you’ll see all of the different channels we have available. On the right in blue, you’ll see a list of members who are currently online, starting with admins and tech support. The center is the current channel/chat that you are in. On mobile, you’ll only see the center area, but you can swipe from side to side to see the yellow and blue areas.

When you first land in the Discord, you’ll be in our Rules channel. Be sure to read these over before participating in the community. After that, be sure to head over to #welcome-introductions to introduce yourself.

What’s in a channel?

We have a lot of channels, which we’ll go over in a minute. But first, there is extra information inside channels which you might want to access.

This is the #book-suggestions channel. Up in the top right, you’ll see some symbols. Let’s go through them!


Threads are like mini-channels, that are nested under big channels. You only get notifications about them if you post in the thread or join it. #book-suggestions has a lot of threads in it, and you can click on this button to see them all, including archived threads! If you and a few friends want to read a book together and talk about it, you should create a thread, so it doesn’t clog up the regular channel, and so it’s easy for others to find.

Notification Settings

This is where you can adjust whether or not you get notified when someone posts in a channel. You can also access this menu by right-clicking the channel name in the channel list, or long-holding the channel name on mobile. This is where you can mute a channel.

Pinned Messages

This is where to check to see if there are any important messages in the channel. This is especially important in book discussion channels—check the pinned messages to find the reading schedule, as well as the starting points for each discussion and the review form at the end of the week.

Just click on this button a few times. Now you know what it does.

Channel Categories

We have lots of channels, but we’ve divided them into categories to help you navigate them. Let’s check them out!


Here you’ll find a lot of general information, and it’s a good place to refer back to if you ever have any questions. We’ve already gone over #rules and #welcome-introductions. #reading-schedule will have the schedule art and upcoming reads; #voting-polls will have the monthly book poll and winners once the poll closes; and #announcements will give server-wide information, like information about upcoming author Q&As, anthology information, etc.

Current Discussion

This is the category for the book we’re reading in the current week. If there is an author Q&A planned, you’ll also see #q-and-a-master-channel in this category. Don’t be surprised if the book discussion moves during the Q&A; we want to make sure it’s easy for authors to find the correct channel and not accidentally post in the wrong channel.

Reader Channels

#general-chat: The catch-all for chatting; if you don’t know where it goes, it probably goes here.

#poll-discussion: Each month, 4-5 HOWLers present books that we could potentially read next month in this channel. You can read the nominated books and chat about them here. One caution, though: don’t discuss any spoilers about the nominated books in this category.

#book-suggestions: Have a recommendation? Looking for a recommendation? Want to talk about a book you just read? This is the general “other books” channel. This is also where you’ll find most unofficial side reads in threads.

#book-cover-porn: This is where you show off book cover photos!

#self-promotion: HOWLers can post about their projects in this channel. However, if you are new, you won’t be able to promote your own work until you receive the Certified HOWLer role, which is awarded automatically once you participate in the community enough.

#e-mergency-files: Where to go if you need help accessing a book.

Writer Channels

#writers-corner: This is the general chat for our writing community. Hang out with our writers here, talk craft, or talk about whatever you want.

#open-calls: This is the best place to promote open calls for work, such as an announcement about an anthology opening for submissions.

#feedback-requests: If you’ve just written something you’d like feedback on, you can post it in this channel. In the pinned messages, there is a Google Sheet with all of the current feedback requests—be sure to send a request to edit this sheet so you can post your own! Although we don’t have a strict system, be sure to give others feedback as well as requesting feedback for your own work.

Alternate Readalities

These are official book club reads, but on a longer schedule than a usual read. We use it to read series (like our Dark Tower readalong), or especially long books, like Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s Weird anthology, which took us an entire year!

Party Time

Most of these channels are pretty self-explanatory, and they are our off-topic channels! Come here to talk about games (of both video and analog varieties), movies, food, politics, music, and comics. We also have the #campfire-tales channel, where you can share your own ghost stories and spooky encounters.

Voice Channels

We’re mostly a text-based server, but we do have a handful of voice channels. If HOWLers are just chatting and hanging out, they’ll be in howls-hangout. rec-room and arcane-arcade are for group games, which you can find out about in #game-room.

Upcoming Discussions

This is where the channels for the rest of this month’s book club reads are. These channels will be created once the books for the month are chosen, and a mod will move them to Current Discussion once the week starts.

The rest of the categories are for our archives. This is where you’ll find the channels for all of the books we have read in the past, as well as a few channels that are no longer active. The easiest way to find one of these book channels would probably be to use the Search function. You can also see what books have won on this spreadsheet.

Your Discord Profile

Server Roles

On the HOWLS Discord server, we have a number of different roles that can be assigned to users. When you are assigned a role, your name will change colors—everyone starts out with no roles and a white username. Sometimes, roles allow you to see channels that you weren’t able to see before. For example, if you join our anthology workshop, you’ll get the HBI Agent role and will be able to see the secret workshop channel.

The first role you will receive is the Certified HOWLer role, which will turn your name purple. This role is automatically assigned once you interact enough with the server. It shows that you are an active member on the Discord, and is the prerequisite for receiving other roles.

Changing Your Nickname

You can change how your name appears without changing your Discord username! This is very helpful if you’re a writer and want to appear by your author name, or sometimes when we all change our names as a joke. To do so, click on “HOWL Society” and go to “Edit Server Profile”.

From here, you can change your nickname to what you want to appear as! This will not change your name in other servers, if you are in any.