Being nice to each other is win-win for writers

The other day Caitlin Kelly – author of the Broadside Blog – posted about why authors need to know authors. Spot on advice, as always. Run, do not walk, to check out what she says.

She indicated in her comments that one of the problems in smaller communities is territorialism. That’s certainly true in New Zealand, which at 4.45 million has about 20 percent the population of New York, spread over the area of Colorado. I’ve been in the business coming up 30 years, and been stung more than a few times by the ‘fair weather friend’ issue – people who are welcoming until you intrude into ‘their’ patch, at which point they become implacably, venomously hostile. My wife still talks about the time she watched another author ‘turn’ on me in a flash, while I was having a polite chat.

I’ve given up trying to interact with the New Zealand academic community because of this sort of behaviour. Summed up when our top historian exploded with anger and swore on national radio when my name was mentioned.

All of which stands against what I think is important in so many ways. Particularly the fact that, to me, writers are all in it together.

Not just history. All writing. The territory isn’t a fixed commodity – it expands with each author. Different people always write differently – everybody has something to add, even if they are writing in the same field. It all goes together, positively. Wonderfully. And if everybody co-operates – which means helping each other to become better writers, to find new ways of helping each other market great books – the audience will expand too, and everybody wins.

To me, these values have always been true, but they’re even more important today with the changing industry. Authors have to work together more than ever – promoting not just themselves, but others. Genuinely. Because other authors write great stuff too. I think the strategy is one way of helping attract new readership – pulling people into books who might otherwise not. Growing the market.

It’s not rocket science. Being nice to each other pays off. Actually, I think that’s also true of life in general.

What do you think?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012


25 thoughts on “Being nice to each other is win-win for writers

  1. Absolutely. The only way to go, especially in self publishing, is with co-operation and teamwork.

    I realized years ago that I was more likely to shop at a book store that was within a block or two of other book stores than one that was off by itself. I might not buy from each one every time I go shopping, but more often than at the ones marooned off by themselves, which require a special trip.

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  2. I’ve been noticing this theme recurring lately in the blog world. I wouldn’t say that I was purposely sequestering myself out of a perceived self-defense, but it wasn’t until recently that I really began to comprehend the true “team effort” that is self-publishing.

    Whether we comment on each other’s blogs, re-Tweet each other, review books, spread word of mouth publicity for a fellow author, we are always building a better writing community and ensuring that the very network we are striving to build will be that much stronger for ourselves, too.

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  3. Totally agree with your comments about supporting each other. I do try to support other writers, but don’t have the time to do as much as I’d like. Still, even a little support is better than none at all! :o)

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  4. Actually, I believe in that wholeheartedly. We all win when we promote each other. If I promote a writer, their readers will come and see who I am. We both benefit.

    Great blog post, Matthew. 🙂

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  5. I couldn’t agree more and find it shocking that others have actually verbally attacked you. Writers should join together, regardless of field, genre or location. Of course we’re not always going to agree, who does? This is what discussion is for, and when required, agreeing to disagree on certain points while continuing to engage on others; with civility and mutual respect.

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    1. It’s not just verbal. I’ve had to put up with all kinds of stuff including one occasion when a military historian stood over me in Archives New Zealand, with balled fists, red face, and absolutely screamed at me, wanting to know what I was doing. I’d never met the guy, but apparently I was writing in ‘his’ field and that made me Public Enemy No. 1. When he saw me working away in a corner he rushed in to harangue me. Not nice.

      I’m far from alone, the NZ scene is rife with it, and it’s so unnecessary! Kindness and a generous spirit are virtues that pay dividends in so many ways, and not just in writing.

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  6. I see this in television sometimes and often I think it can be put down to individuals that only have one or two good ideas, invest everything in them and then feel threatened when someone else who has twenty good ideas stumbles into “their” territory.

    I think that is one key difference between creative and academic communities and one of the reasons why the two don’t always mix well. Fantastic to see you maintain such a healthy attitude despite it all!

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  7. It’s not just the support in terms of word-of-mouth. I’ve learnt some great bits and pieces from other authors which I will weave into my writing to make it stronger.
    It’s always helpful when people suggest links to competitions or other methods of publishing too!
    Thanks for a great post.

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  8. Matthew, I wholeheartedly agree with you. For self-publishing indie authors in particular working together with others in the industry is proving to be a successful component of building author platforms. Some of the best leaps in my own ‘follower growth’ came by collaborating with writers doing similar or at least related work to my own.

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  9. Spot on! Social networking sites are a great tool for us all to discover new writers and back them and promote them and to give them the opportunity to do what we’re all here trying to achieve. To wake up in the morning and love what we do and love life. I know that’s not always possible, it would be naive to think otherwise, but sometimes we forget we’re all human beings – a species – we should be more supportive of our species, as in the scale of the universe we’re just a dot on the landscape.
    Great blogs like this can make people remember who we really are in the grand scale of things and celebrate what we as human beings can do. Without writing and reading we would be a lesser species that’s for certain. A bit deep maybe for a Tuesday lunchtime in the UK, but working on the final edit of my YA fairy tale The Amber Room which i’ll be self publishing in March/April I’m reminded that with the support of fellow writers and friends, I truly feel part of this fantastic planet called Earth.
    Thanks for the inspiration and a brilliant reminder to us all, Matthew

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    1. Thank you – and I’m glad my post highlighted some of the issues. To me social networking acts in many ways as a microcosm of all human interactions – focussing and highlighting in ways framed by the medium. And niceness is such an important value in any circumstance.

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    1. Me too – well, really for the last year or so. It’s been humbling and illuminating to meet some of the fabulous and supportive people that are out there in the blogosphere.

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