How Should Writers Treat Each Other?

Me with my new friend, fellow author Mary Driver-Thiel

Me with my new friend, fellow author Mary Driver-Thiel

I want to take a brief moment to talk about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately, something that’s very close to my heart. I’m not going to change the world with this one, but it’s something I feel like I have to say.

Publishing is weird, yo. Something changed this summer, and now it seems like it’s that much harder for a little old self-published historical romance writer to catch a break. I’ve heard similar things from my friends, many of whom are having a hard time where once before they weren’t. There’s been a lot of distress in the writer community.

But I’ve seen something else in the writer community lately, something I really like. I’ve seen a lot of authors coming together to help each other. This helping is far more than promoting each other on our pages or sending tweets or announcements to our followers. It goes way beyond sharing strategies for promotion or recommendations for designers and editors. That all goes on too, and it’s a great thing.

There’s another side of that too, though, if I might interrupt my own thought with another side thought. Lately I’ve seen a lot of hand-wringing from authors hard hit by whatever sales slump we’re all sharing in. I’ve heard a lot of lamentations about finding new readers and whether Amazon is out to get us all or whether self-publishing is all it’s cracked up to be. This kind of worried talk makes me sad. I want to make a living off of my writing as much as the next writer. More in fact, if the minor meltdown I had at my day job last week is any indication. But sometimes I think we forget why we all started writing in the first place.

At its heart, writing is not about running small businesses. Granted, writing IS running a small business, but that’s not why we all got involved in it to begin with. Writing is a passion. It’s something we do with our hearts. We got into writing because we love it. We love the characters, the craft, the words, and we love each other.

800px-Albert_Anker_(1831-1910),_Schreibunterricht,_1865__Oil_on_canvasAt least, if we’re doing it right, we love each other.

I see a lot of authors who get top marks in helping each other out. And I’m not talking about the promo posts and guest blog appearances and all that (even though those things are nice). Nothing makes me happier than to see authors truly being each other’s biggest supporters. I’m fortunate enough to be part of a couple of overlapping circles of brilliant writers who not only give each other tips and clues when it comes to the business and craft of writing, but who are always there with a shoulder to cry on or an ear to rant at, or even someone to rejoice in success with.

THIS is how we writers should be treating each other. It’s hard enough to engage in a profession that is uncertain on its good days and cutthroat on its worst. We need to be there for each other as comrades in arms. Few people in our real worlds can understand what we do, what the dedication and the focus and the sacrifice is all about. But we understand each other because we’re in the same boat. Nothing gives me more joy than having another writer bounce ideas off of me or come to me when they’re feeling down. Just like nothing picks me up out of the mud faster than talking to another writer about the things that really move me. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to come away with more story ideas than I started with once I get started talking to a fellow writer, but that’s a good thing.

So writers, get out there and help your peers! Help them as a friend going through the same thing would help another friend. I say that there is a time to expect promotion from each other, but that time is far, far eclipsed by the time we need to just be with each other, to listen and to talk. We are all in this together, so let’s give each other the love and support we all need.


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