And Why You Probably Need One.
Whether we call ourselves writers or authors, it matters not a jot. The two terms are interchangeable in my world. One day/hour/minute I am one, the next the other. We are all wonderful wordsmiths who deserve way more than a pat on the back for putting ourselves out there into a competitive and critical literary world.
But one thing’s for sure: I would not have had even the small amount of success I have stacked up with two published novels (and a third due for release soon) without my various writing tribes having my back; offering me support and advice at every turn.
This novel/non-fiction/article writing gig can be a lonely one, no two ways about it. Especially for those of us who perhaps used to work in an environment packed to the rafters with background noise and chatter, friends to meet up with at lunchtime/at the photocopier/in the communal kitchen queuing for the hot comfort of the limescale-clad kettle. Much as we truly adore the blissful side of shutting the door on the outside world and letting our imaginations run riot, we also (unless we are up in the echelons of the Rowlings and Kings) need to market our books. And it can be a lonely process!
Incidentally, for an inspired article on the stress-free doing of that, click here.
Without wanting to go down the route of teaching anyone (certainly and especially not those who have been in this game far longer than me and my relatively humble twelve months!) to suck eggs, here is my list of the BEST kind of writing tribes out there. These are the pockets of family who help propel my words every step of the way – willing them onto paper, shouting about the finished product from the rooftops:
-Fellow authors who share the same publisher.
I’m beyond blessed to have been signed up by a small and independent publisher, whose author support group is second to none. I mean seriously second to none!
Writer friends at the Big Fish publishing houses regularly reconfirm to me how incredibly lucky I am. But it’s actually very easy to make this happen if your current publishing house doesn’t have such a thing. Whether you are a big name signing for the well-established houses, or a new and unique voice with the indies, all it entails is setting up a secret Facebook page and adding your fellow authors. Voila, you have a sacred space to share information and encourage each other.
Your fellow authors are also a hugely important part of your book sales. Which might sound uncouth, but it’s true. Obviously, when you are part of a multi-genre publisher, your stories aren’t going to float everybody’s literary boat, and yet, you are all in the same boat when you are signed up by the same company. It’s for the greater good that you do pop one another’s Amazon Kindle books into your cart when time and money allow. Everybody thrives that way.
-Online Writing Groups.
I belong to a brilliantly nurturing Facebook writing group whose members span genres, success and experience. We bounce ideas off each other and are genuinely excited for one another when there is something for a member of our little family to celebrate. There are many of these groups dotted about, and often you need to be invited to them first… but do not hesitate to join them when that happens! You could always set up your own in the meantime.
Hint – go easy on the rules and regulations side of things. Facebook book groups (in particular) have been getting a bad press recently for book bullying… it’s uncalled for and unnecessary. I wrote a little article about that recently too.
Start a group with the key objective to boost one another up, not tear one another down and it can only be a success.
-Physical Writing Groups
I was very lucky to have two writing groups sandwiched either side of my home in Spain. At the time that I needed help most, these groups were a fantastic source of inspiration and critique (mostly constructive!). Without them I know I’d never have had the tenacity to make it to publication. Unfortunately, one no longer exists and the other clashes now with playing taxi for dance classes… #firstworldproblems and all that.
I’m toying with the idea of setting up a local monthly morning one. I’m sure there are a lot of writers out there who’d welcome the opportunity and it would be great to rekindle this aspect of my much missed writing tribe!
Why not take a page out of my book?
It never ceases to amaze me just how many creatives we have in our neighbourhoods. If something is missing (in my case a group that gets together at a time that’s convenient for me) sometimes we just have to invent it…
You might choose to organise a book blog tour for your new release yourself, or you might choose to employ the expertise of a blog tour organiser. Either way, you are likely to become friends with these wonderful book lovers.
Book bloggers truly do make the literary world go round and the support of their extended book blogger family is enormous.
When both of my novels were published, I was overwhelmed by the number of retweets that came off the back of each of my book’s ‘stops’. The collective power of these amazing human beings to spread the word about your work should not be underestimated…
-Willing and Enthusiastic Family and Friends
They’re another powerful bunch. Ask them for help, by all means, but remember: the most genuine support comes from the heart.
I have a fantastic cousin who lives in Glastonbury (the setting of two of my novels) and she was in her element printing out posters and dotting them around. I also got some rather attractive bookmarks made up and she offered to do the same with them. It was so much fun hearing about where she had left them/her chance meetings in the High Street when she’d handed them out to friends and acquaintances. *I did buy her a big fat box of chocolates to say thanks!*
My parents and my niece were also champing at the bit to help out (well, until Dad damaged his knee in the process). This tremendous trio became Book Fairies, hiding my novels in prime locations all over Glastonbury and Somerset, creating beautiful Instagram-worthy snapshots that I could share on social media. Torn knee ligament after a somewhat over-ambitious stretch on a bench to stand my book atop a historical plaque apart, I think they all enjoyed the process.
There are many other things you can do besides…
Street Teams have become fashionable of late, for example, springing up with many of my author friends.
They’re not my cuppa when it comes to marketing (sorry-but-not-sorry, I just don’t have enough hours in the day to market my own writing, let alone everybody else’s to quite this extent… and I don’t honestly believe many members of these teams will be in a position to consistently tout a book/books… it all just seems way too high a level of commitment to expect of others. *At this point I duck under the table from fellow writers begging to differ.*).
But I mention them because for some authors they DO work, and they’re another example of people coming together to help.
Beta Readers are also a great source of support.
As a writer I have never felt compelled to take the Beta Reader route (no offence brilliant BRs, I know from my fellow writers that you do a stellar job!).
It’s just that I am ‘one of those’ writers who is way too rebellious to make changes to her story – except when it comes to the red pen of my editor… of course.
If there’s one thing my physical writing groups have taught me, it’s that stories are subjective. We really can’t please all of the people all of the time.
But for many writers, Beta Readers offer a unique source of reassurance and constructive critique. They’re a very special writing tribe who are likely to champion your novel all the way, and definitely worth a thought.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong when it comes to the Writing Tribe. Choose one, choose all of them. Just remember to give to them as good as you get!