By Jude Walsh Whelley
Writing can be a solitary occupation. At the heart of the matter, it is sitting down alone, putting words on the page, crafting them carefully, and revising until ready to release the words into the world. How does one prepare the world to receive these words?
Today’s writing universe has most of us doing our own platform building and marketing and for that we rely on help from fellow writers and readers. I like to think of my obligation to help another writer as more a priviledge than a duty. The best term I have heard for this kind of help is literary citizenship. In today’s post I am going to suggest fifteen ways to practice being a good literary citizen.
1. Buy books! This can be a print version, or Kindle, or book on tape, but by buying that book you are providing income for a writer.
2. If you enjoyed a book, take a few minutes and write a review. The more a book is reviewed, the better!
3. If you blog, offer to host an author when her new book is published.
4. If you read a blog post where an author is interviewed or her book discussed, write a comment. Nothing thrills a writer more than having someone want to talk about her work.
5. If you belong to a book club, recommend your writer friend’s book for club reading and discussion. Most of the authors I know love to talk with book club groups and with skype or google chat, this can easily be arranged.
6. Go to book signings. The author usually reads from her work and often shares information about how she got the idea, how it evolved, her publishing journey, and her life as a writer. This is also a great way to find out what her next book is about.
7. Post on Facebook any upcoming publications, book signings, author updates.
8. Also on facebook, “like” all author pages.
9. If a writer publishes links to her blog posts, share them.
10. Twitter is our new friend! I am just learning how to manage twitter posts with tweet deck and know there are other ways of managing it but bottom line… tweet and retweet if you can.
11. Volunteer to be a beta reader. A beta reader is someone who is not familiar with the manuscript and will read the entire document and respond in the manner the writer requests. This is a huge time committment, so it truly is a gift to the writer.
12. Be an encourager! If someone tentatively mentions that she might like to write, encourage her to try. If a person is blocked, remind her that this too shall pass and the words will again flow. When a rejection is recieved, be the soft place for that writer to land until the disappointment passes and the urge to write and try again returns.
13. Join writing organizations like the Story Circle Network (www.storycircle.org) or National Association of Memoir Writers (www.namw.org). It is the easiest way to find your tribe and many offer deep online connection possibilities.
14. Attend writing workshops. I love the annual Antioch Writers’ Workshop (www.antiochwritersworkshop.com) in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I can reccomend Story Circle Network’s Stories From the Heart (www.storycircle.org/conference/) held in Austin, Texas every other year. Eric Maisel (www.ericmsisel.com) offers Deep Writing Workshops all over the world. Just google writing workshops and your city and you will be amazed by the possibilities.
15. Take writing craft classes! This is great self care for a writer but is also a fast track to building your writing community. You will find kindred spirits and you can support one another as you learn. As many writers supplement their income by offering classes you are again helping a writer make a living.
These are just my thoughts, please share any suggestions you have!
Jude Walsh Whelley writes fiction, memoir, and poetry. She lives in Dayton, Ohio. This post was previously published on her blog, Writing Now.