Fellow writer/blogger Eve (The Desert Rocks) recently wrote about an unpleasant expeince she'd had at a writers conference. Though I've always enjoyed the conferences myself, I can't say I'm surprised by Eve's experience. Writers have always seemed to me to fall into two groups: those who are unfailingly supportive of each other, and those who are all about themselves. Eve's experience was clearly with the latter.
Some authors, no matter how much success they achieve, are always insecure. They're afraid someone new will come along who will eclipse them--make more money than they do, have better numbers than they do, be more popular than they are--so they snipe at each other. They tear each other down. And they're judgmental. We all make mistakes. They use those mistakes against each other like weapons. Makes me think of that Bible passage about casting stones....
These are the users, the writers who want others to support them, to read their books and their blogs and recommend them to everyone--but give nothing in return. "Buy my book, give me good reviews, tell your friends about me, help me promote my stuff. Just don't expect anything from me in return. I don't have time to read your books, let alone comment on them. And if I take advantage of you, just smile and keep putting out the good word--after all, it's an honor to serve me. Can't you see that?"
The smart writer realizes that success for one is good for all of us. When any author develops a healthy following, people are buying and reading books. Which means they're going to be buying and reading more books. Other writers' books. For those who still want to be traditionally published, remember this: another author's monster success means the publisher has money to invest in new writers. Maybe you.
I've known a few from the Dark Side--one in particular comes to mind. She was smart, funny, fun to be around--but she'd sell her own mother into the white slave trade for a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. She didn't mind using others, including those who were supposedly her friends. A group of writers in Kansas City gave her a most unflattering ego-inspired nickname. Her career took a downward turn--two publishers dropped her. She didn't get the support she would have gotten from the writers community that would have been there, had she not been so self-centered.
I've been fortunate in that I had a great group of friends during my time in traditional publishing, and I have the best, most supportive writer friends anyone could want now. William, Beth, Donna, Karla, Mike, Mark, Christina, Eve, Shelly, April, Robb, Nicole, Cathy, Kyle (if I've forgotten anyone, I apologize)...here's wishing the best for all of you. I will cheer each of your successes as I would cheer for my own!
Now, guys, if you want to have fun at a writers' conference, we should all go together....