I actually started this post back in April, when I was writing about things I see in writer’s groups online, and it devolved into an angry rant about what I’m tired of seeing rather than a helpful list of nice things we writers can do for one another. So I put the idea on the back burner for a while, and now it’s time to try again. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to know that it’s okay to set a project aside if you’re frustrated with it and go back to it when you’re in a better frame of mind.
Writing is a solitary hobby most of the time. But even though the actual act of writing might just happen between you and your keyboard, once you decide to start sharing your work with others, you step into a whole community of writers and readers. For the most part, I feel like it’s a great community. You’ve got people you can lean on when you’re struggling, and people who understand what it’s like to wait and wait and wait to hear back from an agent only to receive another rejection. There are also moments when the community is not so great, though. I suspect a lot of the people with overbearing or arrogant attitudes are still in the early stages of Dunning-Kruger and try to ignore it, but every once in a while I think maybe it would help them to hear that “tough love” isn’t always love, and it isn’t always the best way to show support for others in the community.
So how can you show support for your fellow writers? Here are a few thoughts.
- Buy their work. When you can, buy their books new instead of secondhand. At a minimum, don’t support piracy websites. It’s a lot of work to write a book, and then there’s still editing, marketing, and so on, so it’s really not fair to take funds away from an author by pirating their source of income instead of paying for it. If you can’t afford to buy books, please utilize your local library. Talk to your librarian about interlibrary loans if the book you want isn’t available. Librarians can also order books to add to the system if they get enough requests, so don’t be afraid to ask for a specific title or author. Nowadays, you can even check out ebooks at most libraries, so you might not even have to leave your house to read your favorite author’s latest hit.
- Review. Whenever you read something you love, if there’s a place where you can leave a rating or review of that writer’s work, you should take a moment and do so. Reviews help convince readers to buy books, but apparently the average is something like one review per 100-200 copies sold. Just taking a few minutes to type up a quick review is a huge help for the author.
- Follow them on social media and interact with their posts. It only takes a second to click the “Like” button or leave a quick comment or emoji on an author’s social media post, but it will make their day. There’s nothing I love more than getting attention on my social media pages or here on my blog. Also, share, share, share their stuff and encourage your friends to follow your favorite authors too.
- Critique. This is a tricky one, and right now I’m only talking about casual posts you see on writing forums and social media. This does not apply to a critique partnership or beta reader situation, which I’m going to talk about in detail next month. Every once in a while, someone will post an excerpt of their writing and ask for comments. Don’t just rewrite someone’s work for them. Leave a simple suggestion, like “I like your overall concept, but the way this is written makes it feel like an infodump to me,” and let them decide what to do with it. Try to start with something you like about the piece. Don’t offer critique when people haven’t asked for it. If you see something you don’t like, and/or you feel like someone’s just trying to show off how great they think they are, keep on scrolling.
- Recommend work to your friends. If you read something you love, share it! Tell your friends, tell acquaintances who might be interested, write about it on your blog, tweet about it, but whatever you do, don’t keep your favorite stories to yourself. The biggest, best marketing a writer gets is through word of mouth and it costs you nothing to tell people, “Hey, this is a great book and I think you’ll like it.”
- Try to be encouraging. When a writer friend is having a bad day, listen. One day you’re going to have a bad day, too, and maybe need their support. Offer encouragement if you can. Scroll on by if you’re feeling snarky or critical; now is not the time.
I’ll probably write other posts about supporting writers from time to time, so feel free to check back regularly! If you’d like to tell us how you support your favorite writers, please leave a comment below. Thanks!
Image credit: Dayne Topkin