As some of you may know, my background is in business. I spent over 25 years making money for some of the world’s largest corporations. Unlike some, I never found it as a soul-less existence. I enjoyed what I did and I especially enjoyed working with so many great people. When I decided to leave to concentrate on my writing, I knew I would miss my colleagues. It’s a wonderful feeling being part of a group working towards a common goal. Becoming an author, I expected my working life to be more like one man against the world.
Instead I discovered a wonderful community of authors.
The best part of writing has been the care and support shown by many hundreds of authors. It was such a surprise. In the world I’d just left, you never spoke to your competitors. You studied them, sure, but only to find weaknesses in their offer to exploit for your own financial benefit. Yet I had so many fellow authors, competitors of mine, offering help and advice, whether in the craft of writing or how to generate more sales.
And some not only gave advice, they actively promoted my books. How was this possible? Surely these authors telling readers to buy my book meant those same readers wouldn’t buy the books of these authors? But I learnt very quickly that publishing is not a zero sum game. There are enough readers to accommodate all of us. Yes, many of us would love to sell more books, but the issue isn’t a lack of readers, it is a lack of awareness, and as us authors help promote each other, we help ourselves too.
Yet I think there is more to this than a simple “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” I’ve had authors I’ve only ever met through blogging and social media give up hours of their time to beta read my books. Not only have they done so willingly, they were thrilled to help. In my recent promotion, many authors shared and promoted what was happening. One author in particular sent out regular tweets to their followers informing them of my promotion, all unasked.
There was even one writer, knowing how much I loved cricket, who offered me tickets to see England play a test match at Lords as they had a ticket going spare. This was a writer I’d never met in person but purely through blogging. I am still bowled over by the kindness of this gesture, and how much fun that day was.
While not all authors are supportive, as not all in life take time to think of others, I’ve encountered so many examples of authors offering help and support to each other and celebrating the success of their peers – from multi-award winning authors down to those just starting out and every level in between – that I believe there is something in the psychological makeup of writers, possibly linked to our ability to empathise with others, that encourages this warmth and support to each other.
And the best part is, it’s more enjoyable to give than receive. Over a year ago I started my Pay it Forward campaign. It was a little thing, really. I read a lot of books, so it was no hardship changing my reading habits to read more works by either self-published authors or those published via small presses and promoting this I liked, yet the longer it has gone on, the more I’ve enjoyed doing it and offering just a little exposure to those books I feel deserve it.
So the one piece of advice I would give to any new writer is to reach out to other writers. Don’t just read what people have to say, write a comment, get in contact. For the most part I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the reaction you’ll receive.
So what about you? What support have you received from other authors? Is there a particular act that stands out or is it more the ongoing encouragement you find helpful? I’d love to hear from you.
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