Okay, I’ll accept some authors do behave similar to demanding toddlers. Currently, due to small press and self-publishing more people than ever before are publishing books with big dreams of being the next E.L. James or Stephen King. Most are unaware of the entire process of making it big never happens as fast as they’d like. Most of the time, it never happens at all.
It is unrealistic to expect big name authors to help aspiring authors, but every now and then, some do. They have thousands of such requests. They have legal obligations to promote writers within their publisher’s stable. There’s also the possibility that the author who wants promotion isn’t quite ready for publication. Famous writers also have deadlines, book signings, conference appearances and a life.
Here are a few ways authors/writing groups have helped me.
· Publisher knowledge via an online or local writing group. I joined Novel Sisterhood, which is free, and received incredible support. I was also in RWA-related groups whose purpose was to educate and help the aspiring writer to get published. My RWA dues ran around $200 considering all the groups I belonged to, but worth it.
· My local writing group, Crossroads Romance Writers, helps me hone my craft, but also serves as a cheer team to get me through the rough patches.
· Conferences are a great way to meet other writers, publishers, and even agents. By attending conferences, I networked, developed new friends, and was even invited to present at future conferences.
· Critiquing each other’s work is a valuable service. Many writers only want praise for their first attempt at writing. There is a happy medium between recognizing what is good and what could be better. Keep in mind, this is a two way street. It is helpful to see how other writers construct a story.
· Being a positive social media friend is a great way to get more of the same.
· Occasionally, friends review my book, but not always, because it’s not something they read or time issues. I have hundreds of books I’m going to review, but average only about six a month.
· Attend workshops presented by published writers. I’m not much on reading books on the craft, but I’ll do workshops since they are more hands on.
· I get most of my valuable promotional ideas from published authors. These ideas can come from social media, FB groups, workshops, or even face-to-face conversations.
· Guest blogs posts on other writers’ sites, especially after I initially hosted them on my site.
· Sprinting or page accountability to another author keeps me writing.
· Groups such as 2 Friends Promote, Rave Reviews Book Club or ASMSG are for promotion.
Even as I wrote my list, I realized the one thing all my help had in common was effort on my part. I didn’t get to sit back while a crew of authors worked for me. If you really want someone to work for you, then you need to hire an assistant.
Those with the entitlement attitudes will alienate people. My reviews are fair and usually favorable. I’ve even refused to review books I couldn’t do a semi-favorable review for, but still, a few writers attacked when their review wasn’t glowing. One even threatened suicide if I didn’t remove two sentences in my review that she didn’t like.
I remembered the author’s name and watched her alienate other writers and writers’ groups. Not good form, demanding people promote you, and then designating how to promote. Any help is always a gift, often an undeserved one.
When someone has helped me, I thank the person, but try to do something helpful in return. A handwritten note to the librarian who shelved my books can help give my pen name a positive association.
Sometimes what looks like entitlement is a publisher or publicist pushing an author to invite everyone they’ve ever met on Planet Earth to a FB event. Some start the invitation with a disclaimer. No writer owes you help. If you help others first, they will be more likely to help you. Often help isn’t immediate or comes in the form you want. Don’t ever lower yourself to backbiting or complaining about a lack of help. It not only gives you a bad rep, sometimes it gets you kicked out of writing/promotional groups, but it can dry up any future help too. Don’t be an entitled writer. Instead, be a grateful author.