Editor’s Note: This article is the second and final installment in our two-part mini series on the value of supporting fellow writers. To learn why we decided to spotlight this topic, read our introductory post.
I’m selfish. I like to cling to this lie: if I give too much of myself to others, I won’t have enough time or energy for more important tasks. Though I could become toxically obsessed with lending a hand, how many of us actually struggle with that? Maybe one in ten.
As humans, we often need rewards dangled in front of us to incite us into action. That may sound unspiritual, and we should be willing to make sacrifices, but since the Bible promises that God will reward us according to our deeds, desiring a return on our investment is natural. And if we don’t contribute to the writing community, we miss out on four treasures.
1. Opportunities to Reach More Readers
Wake up. Your real foes are Netflix and video games, not fellow authors. Whenever new readers enter the fold, that’s a win for everyone in the publishing industry. View other authors as your coopetition, not competition. Coopetition is when two brands in the same niche cooperate to grow each others’ businesses. Investing in other authors is (to a degree) investing in yourself.
You’ve probably picked up a novel and noticed praise from an author you admire on the back cover. Ooh, you think, this story must be exceptional. But did you ever pause to wonder why that author endorsed it? No one will pay attention to his opinion unless they love his books. Essentially, the blurb targets his fans and shouts, “Hey! Check out this book that’s on par with mine.”
In addition to goodwill, busy authors have three motivations for endorsing others’ books:
- If you’ve heard of an author, then you see that she’s endorsed several of your favorite books, you’ll become curious about her.
- When authors exchange endorsements, that leads to increased sales.
- An author’s biggest fear is not that readers will spend their budgets on other books. It’s that they’ll stop reading and buying books altogether! Every book purchase keeps the market alive.
The only writers who can negatively affect you are those with diametrically opposed values—i.e., unprofessionals who don’t care about quality, or radicals who try to establish literary tropes you refuse to comply with.
If an author impresses you, send readers her way. The more outstanding books you expose people to, the more they’ll enjoy reading (and expand their personal libraries). And if readers respect your recommendations, they’ll start to respect you as a writer too.
2. Opportunities to Advance God’s Kingdom
Jealousy is the enemy of community growth. It breeds pessimism and a hoarding mentality. While we each have dreams we should pursue, we’re called to first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Our primary goal should be much broader than achieving our own ambitions. Whenever a kingdom-building writer succeeds, we all succeed with her as part of one body.
As Mariposa said in her article last week, “Nothing great can ever be accomplished alone.” If we pool our talents, commit to high standards, and urge each other to persevere, over the next decade we have the potential to witness a revolution of the arts. Dozens of feature films produced off stellar Christian novels, superior and highly accessible education for beginning novelists, Christian art festivals, new literary societies, and more!
We need advanced writers mentoring novice writers and helping them gain footing in the market. We need a larger focus on cross-promotion and unified efforts to reach new markets. We need volunteers who donate their time to organizations that are dedicated to nurturing the writing community. We need, eventually, to step outside the writing community and join forces with other types of artists. May the world know us as a community, a movement, an idea, and may our individual egos, awards, and faces fade into the background.
3. Opportunities to Form Beneficial Relationships
In the Christian life, we constantly walk between split hairs. This means that, as writers, we must learn to balance shrewd business decisions and selflessness.
The right contacts can boost you years ahead of where you’d be on your own. They can introduce you to other influencers, promote you to their audiences, and provide the advice you need for the stage you’re at. But don’t give just to get. “Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return” (Luke 6:35). Beta reading, writing encouraging notes, and joining a street team for another author’s book launch are a few gestures that will bless others. If you look around with the intent to serve, you can probably brainstorm more.
One relationship could radically—or subtly yet significantly—change your life. The writing friends I pour myself into are usually the first to beta read my manuscripts, assist with marketing, and encourage me. I’m grateful.
4. Opportunities to Reflect Christ
After years of hard work and integrating yourself into the writing community, you’re published and sales are climbing. It’s time to relax and concentrate on building your personal empire. Right?
Although family and financial demands rightfully keep many writers from devoting as much time as they’d like to the writing community, I hope we never lose the love for our neighbor epitomized by Christ who, as Lord of the universe, stooped to undergo humiliation to save humanity.
Everyone reading this article is farther along than someone else. Even if you’re still developing your skills, you probably have one speciality—perhaps writing a character’s thought process. Those strong in experience, time, connections, subscribers, or optimism, help the weak. Then we shall all be strong.
You might be overwhelmed with responsibilities and can’t spare time to beta read, or maybe you aren’t well-known enough to drum up publicity for a friend’s debut novel, but I guarantee that you have something to offer.
All for One and One for All
As 1 Corinthians 12:12 declares, we have the privilege of being part of something larger than ourselves: “The body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body.” Let’s strive to grow together and care for each other so that we all thrive.
Many moons ago, a series of suspiciously providential events led Daeus to cast his lot among the worldwide community of Christian storytellers. Since then, no reports indicate that he has come back out. Perhaps he is lost among those fine gallivanters forever. Rest in peace, Daeus Lamb.
Daeus dreams impossibly large (which doesn’t bother him a bit) and tends to bite off more than he can chew. Watch this in action as he tries to capture the depths of the fantasy genre on his YouTube channel, or as he seeks to express the meaning of life in just a short novelette. (Psst. It’s a popular little book called God of Manna and you can get it for free here.)