Before I published my first novel, I contacted two previously published authors. One told me he never read another writer’s work. The other refused to help me in any way. I found these responses both disheartening and sad. Why is it writers refuse to help newbies? How are newbies ever going to break through without a helping hand?
I understand some reasoning behind the refusal. The seasoned writer doesn’t want to be inundated with manuscripts to read. And, of course there’s the worry or fear that someone might be accused of stealing someone else’s idea. That was actually expressed by one of the writers. But, it’s my contention that writers can help other writers and serve as mentors.
- Do not ask a writer to speak on your behalf to their publisher or agent. If the writer wants to do that, they will volunteer doing so.
- Do not ask a seasoned writer to read your entire manuscript. You could ask them to read a chapter and give you some feedback or to read your synopsis
- Ask general questions regarding the publishing business. How did you find your agent? Is an agent necessary? What does your agent do for you?
- Ask general submission questions. What do I send to the publisher? What format is commonly used? Do I send a query or do I send more?
- Do ask about contests and conferences and ways to get your work noticed on the worldwide web. What contests should I enter? Is it worth it to pay a fee to enter a contest? How many people do I need to have a platform? How do I create a platform?
- What about writer groups and Beta readers. Which ones do I join? How do I find Beta readers? What is your process of early reading and editing?
- Ask them to tell you about their journey. How did they break into the business?
- Ask how you can support the seasoned writer. If you have a platform, you can shout out the writer’s new book. Or, you could offer to read and review the helpful writer’s work.
Of course, I did all this when I approached the two writers mentioned earlier. Nonetheless, they turned their backs on me. This will happen. Recognize that some writers are not inclined to help others. Move on. Find another more helpful person.
I read a number of posts where writers share their experiences. The best ones I’ve found (besides mine!) is The Kill Zone–I read this one regularly and tweet it often. Several writers contribute. The other is Live Write Thrive. This one is more technical. But, again, writers share their experiences.
Maybe as time passes, more writers will help other writers. When they do, everyone benefits, particularly the readers.
What suggestions do you have to help writers be more forthcoming with newbies?