It isn’t always convenient. It isn’t always easy. But it is always worth it.
What am I talking about? Mentoring. Authors mentoring authors.
Early on in writing, I had simple questions that I would spent hours trying to answer correctly. Several years into writing, I was fortunate enough to encounter a group of authors who were only too happy to answer questions and steer me in the right direction. Having gone it alone and having had guidance, I can tell you from firsthand experience, having guidance is a whole lot better.
One thing that surprised me then, and still does to a lesser degree, is whatever happens to a writer, it’s generally happened before to another one. And unlike in many career fields, authors are extremely generous in teaching those behind them on the ladder the ropes. That isn’t altogether altruistic. Some of it is, but the simple truth is, the better informed an author is, the better the decisions he or she makes. And better decisions benefits not only that author, but all authors.
RWA is the largest writing organization in the world. It’s long been notorious for mentoring and author education as well as advocacy. Way back, I was privileged to be the first PRO mentor of the year. What is that? PRO is a sub-group within the RWA organization. It is focused on (as yet) unpublished authors and teaching them what they need to know to become better, more informed professional writers. To aid in acquiring or honing skills that will serve writers well.
Some authors cringe at that thought of taking on that kind of commitment for a week much less for a year. But for others, it is merely an extension of the mentoring they already had been doing and continue to do afterward.
I’m not advocating that every author will mentor. I’m not advocating it is a rite of passage that writers should. I am saying that no one person is an expert at every facet of all that goes into producing books for publication. Whether it is writing, how publishing works, what editor at what publisher is a good match for a specific writer, how to market a book, how-to create images with which to market or where to get them. There’s a lot more to writing than writing–when you write to sell. No one can know it all. But if we share information, do together what none of us can do alone, then we all benefit. That is the message I’m sharing.
Whatever your area of expertise, share what you can. Help other authors avoid mud puddles. Because when an author hits a puddle, the mud often splashes onto all other authors.
In helping others, we help them and ourselves. That, my friends, is a win/win!