Monday, April 9, 2012

Letter to a Writer's Friend...

I did not write this post.  I am not a published author - yet!  But, I hope to be one day.  I found this post really interesting because it lays out how you can be a real friend to your writer friend.  I think sometimes, people that don't write don't understand how lonely writing can be.  It's a very raw professions and salt is regularly poured in the wounds.  I'm not even really an "author" yet, but I've already felt the sting of writing.  

So, this post is a simple "how-to" guide on being friends with an author, or at the very least, a writer.  No, the two are not the same.

Writers, this isn't really a post for you; it's a post for your friends; it's a post you can print out and give to your friends.

Dear Friend of an Author (or writer - I added this...):

Congratulations! You have an author for a friend. And you want to know how you can best support your friend in her career. There are definitely some solid ways to do this.
  1. Attend. When your friend has an event, attend. It might be a book signing at a book store, a party to celebrate the release of a new book, or just a talk at your local church. Attend. Please. And bring other friends with you. You've gone before, you've heard it already. So? Go again. It's about being a friend.

    Writing is a lonely profession. We lock ourselves up in our caves and pour our hearts onto paper and revise and revise and if we are lucky, there's a book at the end of the process. But writing is odd. Our work is not complete without readers. It's both a very private profession and a very public one. And often, we recluses need help with the public portion of this profession.
    • Do not ask: Do you want me to come?

    • What your writer friend hears: I don't want to come, but if you insist, I will.

    • What your writer friend will say: No, no. There's no need for you to come.

    • What your writer friend is hoping: You will come. Period.

  2. Buy. Yes, it's a layout of a few bucks. The equivalent of buying them a cheap fast-food meal. A couple burgers, a fry and a coke. It's important that you buy a book. Why does this matter?
    • Writing isn't complete without the reader (see above).
    • Most writers are paid a royalty, which means it's a percentage of total sales. If a book sells billions, the writer is rich. If it sells only dozens, all that work, all that hope--there's no reward. We are self-employed: no insurance, no paid vacation, no salary, no monetary reward at all. It's not your problem and we don't expect it to ever be your worry. But please, if you are a true friend, buy the book.

    Where to buy?
    Amazon. Unless your friend has a preference, buying on Amazon means the sales rank will go up, which helps other people to find the book. The biggest difficulty we have it reaching people and letting them know our book is available. Buying on Amazon helps.
    At book signings. On the other hand, if there's a book signing you can attend, go. (See above: Attend.)
  3.  Read. Do I have to say it? Apparently, yes. Read the book. At the least, you'll find out something about your friend that you never knew. At best, you may be totally amazed.

  4. Talk. Just as important as buying and perhaps even more important, tell someone about the book. Tell LOTS of someones. Word of mouth--a person telling an acquaintance about a fabulous book--is still the best way to sell books. It has to start somewhere. Why not with you, the Friend of the Author? If your writer friend has postcards, take them and pass them out. Know a librarian, a teacher, or someone in a field related to your friend's book? Combine #2 with this one--give that influential friend a book. Wow. That would be a kind thing for you to do for your writer friend.

    Book Review. Specifically, talk about your friend's book on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads or other social media sites by doing a book review. I know. It's a bit techie to figure out how to post a review. And I know that it's a bit of writing that you would have to do and YOU are not the writer here anyway. But that bit of writing would be greatly appreciated and could really help your friend. If twenty of MY friends wrote reviews of my recent book, I would cry. What a kindness.
  5. Support. In many other small ways, you can support your friend. Listen to them complain about the editorial revisions. Just like when you complain about the technical details of your engineering project, it doesn't matter that you understand. Mostly, your writer friend just needs a friendly ear, just like you need one for your daily woes.

    Ask about progress on a project. Join the writer in dissing the editor who rejected the latest project. Stop by with a cup of coffee and make the writer leave her cave for a 15 minute visit with a real person. Send her a $10 gift certificate to her favorite bookstore, so she can buy that novel that is making the rounds right now. Take an early morning walk with her. Meet her at the library where you will both just sit and read; companionship is important. Take her for a drive in your Miata. Do pedicures together. Sit in a hot tub and drink margaritas. In short, BE a friend. Talk is cheap; friendship costs. The rewards? A true friend (who just might put you in a book some day).

Friend of an Author, you don't know how much that author needs you. Authors are too good at hiding in their caves, at being recluse. But I guarantee: that author needs YOU. Today. Please. Go and be a Friend.


Darcy Pattison

Novelist, picture book author, blogger, article writer, letter writer, list writer, and hopefully, your friend.

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