by Eldred Bird
One thing I’ve always liked about writers is that most of us tend to see other authors as our comrades, rather than our competition. We like to share ideas and lessons we’ve learned along our journeys through the literary landscape. Instead of putting others down, writers lift each other up. We’re a community.
That’s what Writers in the Storm Blog and other resources like it are all about. They’re about writers helping other writers to elevate their skills and achieve their goals. But what’s in it for us? How does helping others help us reach our own goals?
Let’s look at some of the benefits we reap by helping others.
One of the best ways to help writers, especially independent authors, is to read their books and then take the time to post an honest review. The more reviews a book gets, the more likely it is they will be pushed and promoted by the algorithms.
Identify yourself as a fellow writer in the review. Give the author some encouragement and then give some real feedback. Be honest but tactful. Most writers would rather have honest reviews than a bunch of empty ratings, even if they are five stars.
The benefit to you comes in a couple of ways. A well written review will often catch the eye of the author and in some cases they will feel compelled to reciprocate. They may even reach out to you and ask for permission to use your words in their promotions. This can lead to wider exposure for you.
Readers also look at reviews when deciding whether to buy a book or not. A well written review may lead them to put your name in a search engine and check your offerings out as well.
Beta reading for other authors is a great way to help take them to the next level. We all get blind to our own mistakes over time, so other eyes are essential to producing a quality manuscript. Offer to be those eyes. Even when a story is not in our chosen genre, we can still recognize plot holes and speed bumps that need to be delt with, so don’t limit yourself too much.
The main benefit of beta reading for others is building relationships. When you help them out, they’re more likely to help you in the future. When your next manuscript is ready for other eyes ask for them to return the favor.
Beta reading will also benefit your writing. Reading examples of different voices, genres, and descriptive language will help to expand the tools you have at your disposal when you sit down to the keyboard.
Joining a critique group is a great way to help other writers. A well-run group offers the opportunity for both new and experienced writers to come together and share what they’ve learned. Unlike beta reading, the feedback is face to face (be it virtual or in-person). This allows for a back-and-forth conversation, sparking discussion and clearing up feedback that might otherwise be misunderstood.
If you are a new writer, the benefit to you is obvious—you get to pick the brains of more experienced writers. If you are a veteran writer, critique groups can expose you to new ideas and genres you don’t normally read, thus broadening your horizons. It also helps you mentally to be around others who understand your struggle the way non-writers can’t.
Some authors choose to share their knowledge through blogs like this one. It’s an effective way to help lots of writers all at once. Blogging gives you the chance to present the lessons you’ve learned in a way that reaches a broader audience and creates an archive that can be accessed whenever needed.
Blogging helps you by extending your reach as a writer. Getting your name out there attached to helpful writing related information can push you higher in the search engines and add to your credibility. It helps you spread your brand, which in turn can lead to better sales numbers.
The research required to write a blog also helps to build your own knowledge and skill as a writer. I can’t begin to tell you the things I’ve learned researching materials for a blog. Well, actually I can. That’s what I do every time I write one! When I’m preparing a blog post I do the research, learn new things, and then share the results with all of you.
Social media has become a big part of succeeding as an author. While it can be both a blessing and a curse, it’s something we all must deal with. Taking the time to share and interact are key to building an online presence to bolster your brand.
We can help other writers build their presence by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts. Tagging them and adding links to their books and websites helps get the word out when they have new releases or events to promote.
What do we get out of this? Not only do our followers see the posts, but their followers as well, which increases our reach beyond our own borders. If their followers comment on our interactions, then the exposure extends even further. It doesn’t take long for a well worded post or reply to grow legs.
One word of caution—be careful when using social media to grow your audience. Make sure your interactions, as well as the people you interact with, fit your brand. It’s easy to get pulled into exchanges that hurt your reputation, so be mindful and think before you hit the ‘send’ button.
Writers really are a community. We should all do whatever we can to help each other succeed. Reach down and lend a hand whenever possible. You never know when you might be the one needing a hand up.
How do you help your writing community? How has it benefitted you? Let us know in the comments!
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Eldred Bird writes contemporary fiction, short stories, and personal essays. He has spent a great deal of time exploring the deserts, forests, and deep canyons inside his home state of Arizona. His James McCarthy adventures, Killing Karma, Catching Karma, and Cold Karma, reflect this love of the Grand Canyon State even as his character solves mysteries amidst danger. Eldred explores the boundaries of short fiction in his stories, The Waking Room, Treble in Paradise: A Tale of Sax and Violins, and The Smell of Fear.
When he’s not writing, Eldred spends time cycling, hiking, and juggling (yes, juggling…bowling balls and 21-inch knives).
Top Photo credit: Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay
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