One of the best parts of my work at Inkling Creative Strategies is going to my authors’ book signings. In November, my client Marc Lee Shannon released his debut collection of essays, Sober Chronicles™, and it’s been my pleasure to attend several events he’s held to promote it.
It’s an emotional experience to watch him talk about the book to an audience, sign copies for attendees, and see a whole bunch of people standing in the same room holding copies of it.
When you work so hard with somebody on their book for such a long time, it’s gratifying to see the author win in such public ways. I don’t seek out glory at these events. I don’t approach people to talk about Inkling unless they approach me first. I like to sit on the sidelines and watch this guy enjoy the success I envisioned for him.
But the truth is, you don’t have to be an editor or a writing coach to support your writing friends and the local authors in your community or personal sphere. I’d argue you have a responsibility to do it.
And today, I want to talk about how and why.
It’s Not About the Money
Here’s the thing about people who write and publish books: no one does this for the money. I don’t want to be a dream killer, but the fact is that becoming Stephen King, John Grisham, or one of the literary heavyweights who has made a career out of cranking out books is extremely, extremely rare.
Recent reports on the state of publishing show that if you sell 2,000 copies in the life cycle of your book, you’re doing FANTASTIC.
My book is $15.00 on Amazon. That means that if I achieve maximum performance, I can make around $30,000. That’s a good chunk of money, but not enough for me to retire.
I’m not saying that aspiring to be Stephen King isn’t a goal to work toward. But as I talked about at the beginning of the year, becoming the best artist you can be is a much more worthwhile pursuit.
But sharing your work with an audience is still a vital part of the process. After all, art is about hospitality, and for many of your writing friends, letting others experience their writing is the culminating step.
Writers can’t share their work without an audience to share it with. And you get the opportunity to be a part of that audience by supporting them.
This is important because while the vast majority of published authors don’t do this for the money, they seek something even more valuable: to create dialogue surrounding their stories and receive the affirmation that something they made changed someone’s life.
It’s Not a Competition
Some time ago, I wrote a blog post about the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit and what I learned from it as a writer. If you’ve seen it, you know that The Queen’s Gambit is a show about competition, where the central character ultimately learns that forming alliances with competitors is more valuable than longing to crush them to bits.
I have found this true about writing and creative endeavors, not just chess.
I’m a part of a writing community where my writing friends have submitted work to the same publications or anthologies on several occasions. You would think that this would create a situation where we would see each other as the enemy and hoard our work in hopes of gaining an extra edge.
Instead, someone set up a thread on our community forum for people to collaborate on their submissions.
Sure, everyone hoped to have their work accepted for publication. But we all recognized that there was a more immediate goal: to help each other become better writers.
It isn’t about receiving attention for your work or even publication. It’s the fact that, published or not, every piece is another step toward becoming a better writer, and we get to help each other do this.
If that’s your attitude, when one author wins, everyone wins. If you see it as a competition, you miss out on celebrating with people when good things happen to them.
I’ve been a part of communities where competition and hostility were part of the motivation—even though the creative relationships seemed friendly on the surface.
Trust me—being in a group where everyone helps each other revise because there is more at stake than publication is much more enriching.
It Reminds You of Why Your Writing Matters
Seeing my writing friends win makes me want to write more. It doesn’t discourage me. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m falling behind or must “hustle” more.
It shows me what’s possible with my own work and clarifies my vision for what I want to do with it next.
When you look at your friends’ successes and reflect on what makes them so inspirational, you discover something about them that you want to incorporate into your work.
That’s not plagiarism. That’s participating in a creative community. It means that you see your writing friends as real authors whose work can inspire you as much as any of the writers that are a part of your creative lineage.
Need Support For Your Writing?
Sometimes reaching out for help makes the writing process less overwhelming. That’s why I’m pleased to offer Virtual Meetups, a free 30-minute one-on-one Zoom consultation to talk about whatever concerns, questions, or ideas you have related to writing.
It’s the fastest, easiest way to get the answers you need about the process so you can reach your full creative potential and start impacting and inspiring readers.
Click here to find out more about Virtual Meetups and book some time on my calendar!