As I begin day 3 of clearing the fakers and spammers from my Twitter timeline, it astonishes me how many authors out there are either never in touch, never have anything creative and interesting to say, or never tweet anything other than book promos. There are lots of good people in the writing community, but the ones like this make it hard to enjoy (unless we spend days clearing them from our lives like I’m having to do right now) – so I figured now was a good time to share my most recent ‘writing advice’ article. (I originally posted the following on The Seventh Star blog. You can check that version out HERE, and don’t forget to check out the other authors on that site too.)
Let me start this article off by saying that this was not brought on by any one person or group. This is not ranting or raving, even if it starts seeming like one or the other. This topic just magically popped into my head one day out of the blue. Don’t worry, Kylie love you. Kylie happy. Kylie no go Hulk
So, in the publishing world and even more so online, ever since those newfangled social media thingies came out, writing communities have grown bigger, more inclusive, and more numerous than ever before. The internet is a magical thing, and it not only provides a place to shout from the digital rooftops, “Hey, I wrote a book! You should read it!” – but also a place to make true and lasting connections with like-minded people – in your case, most likely, fellow writers.
“Wait, stop! What on God’s green Earth is a community?” If you’re thinking this right about now, well, chances are you’re probably not a writer, but just in case you ARE wondering, allow Google to translate:
Wow that’s a lot of definitions. As a writer it doesn’t take much to picture us as a group of nuns or insectivorous birds (and as an artist I’m really trying hard not to draw what this might look like), but I think #2 is my favorite. “A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
“And just what the flickety flock is a fellowship?” – you might be asking… You know, if you enjoy making up random curse words so as not to offend anyone… Well, fear not. Google to the rescue!
Cool, so, now that we know, moving right along…
Whether you’re part of a Facebook group or a Twitter clique or a Google hangout, etcetera etcetera, chances are everyone in that group of yours shares your interests, your passions, and your dreams. We all want to be the next Anne Rice or George R. R. Martin. We all have a website that could use more subscribers and at least one book we want with all our hearts for people to read. When interacting with peers in the writing community, whether a big one or a small one, it’s good to keep those things in mind. And also these things:
1. Talk to people like a living breathing human, not like a damn robot.
You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen it, and sadly, almost every writing community has one. That writer who screams “I wrote a book! Go buy it!” and never screams anything else. Like a broken record, they just keep screaming the same things over and over, in the hopes that someone somewhere will listen. (I’ll spare you the Google definition and just tell you that is the definition of insanity) – Their pre-programmed chitter chatter has been set to “TALK” and is never switched over to “LISTEN.” These are the people I usually end up blocking on Twitter, muting on Facebook, and ignoring everywhere else. Please don’t be this person. Be a human, not a robot. Ask your peers how their day is going, and mean it. Don’t plan every conversation out like a battle for the last word or the sale. Talk to people like people; like friends; like you want to be talked to. That whole “Do unto others” thing is basic common sense, and when does common sense apply if not with your career and the people involved in that career?
2. Return the favor.
If a fellow writer buys your book, try your hardest to buy theirs. If you’re broke and can’t afford it (as is often the case with me, and let’s face it, most writers) you can at least put it on your TBR list on Goodreads, your Amazon wish list, or your internet favorites for later. And if a fellow writer reads and reviews your book, do your best to return the favor, honestly and gently. I know for a fact how hard it can be to read and review books when you’re busy trying to write your own books (my TBR list grows longer every week and I’ve been reading some books for a year now because there’s just not enough time) but even if it takes a while to return the favor, return it anyway. Success and friendship often go hand in hand, and both are 2-way streets. Or at least, they should be.
3. Find common ground outside of writing.
You can’t just talk about your books all the time, lest you break the first rule and turn into a babbling robot. You already have one thing in common with your fellow writers, so why not find out what else you have in common? Talk about your favorite music, movies, TV shows… Or better yet, ask them about theirs. When you can connect with your peers on a deeper level than just writing, you have the potential to make real, lasting friendships with them. I know writers can be reclusive, but come on, who doesn’t like having friends? Put yourself out there then sit back and watch what happens. The results just might surprise you.
I know it’s a short list but that’s all I can think of. And maybe that’s all there is to it. Listen, be kind, and be yourself. The path to success is a lot easier to walk together than alone, and when you treat people the way you want to be treated, when you want their success as much as your own, when you put yourself out there and make genuine connections, you might just find your tribe. And that is worth way more than a few extra book sales. So go forth and be awesome. Or else you might make me angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. 😉
Be the lightning,