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