Monday, January 13, 2014

Being Supportive, Being Authentic

by R.C. Lewis

One of the best things about the writing community is that it's so supportive. Writers share information and experiences on blogs and Twitter, offer advice to newer writers, and spread the word about others' books.

For me, there's a fine balance between that support and being authentic. If you don't like someone's cover or book, do you still rave about it in the name of being supportive? Some writers do, and I think they often have valid reasons for it. Tastes are subjective, so they're objectively celebrating the effort and accomplishment. They're offsetting the inevitable snark-reviews.

Good reasons. If that's what makes sense to you, go for it!

The trickiest place for this is in reviewing. I decided a long while ago that I wouldn't review books. Period. Books I love, hate, or are so-so about. My own nature is to find things to pick on, so I make a lousy "celebrator of effort and accomplishment" if I don't adore everything about a book. And if I review one writer-friend's book (because I love it) but not another's (because I don't love it), it gets way too awkward. I can't say I love everything, because I don't. Because I'm admittedly really picky, it's often hard to focus on any aspect I thought was good.

So no reviews for me, and I think that's a decision each author has to make in a way that works for them. It has to do with personality along with a whole host of other factors.

There are other things I can do, though, that I think are more universal. I can be vocally supportive of all paths—traditional, agented, small publisher, self, whatever. I can likewise be supportive of writers in all genres.

Most importantly, I can make sure I never look down on a fellow writer.

While it's critical to have self-confidence in this business—we need to believe our stories are worth reading—it's just as critical not to let that cross over to arrogance. In my case, I write Young Adult sci-fi. I do so because it's what I love, and I think my books have something important to add to the conversation.

That's not the same as thinking I'm better than everyone else publishing or attempting to publish in that area. I think I'm pretty good at some things. I know I still have plenty to learn.

I think I can add a different voice. I don't think "different" means "better."

I have opinions. I have some expertise. I don't have the right to poop on someone else's parade.

This is why decisions about how to publicly convey our support for each other can be so tricky, at least for me. Being honest, authentic, and supportive while keeping our egos in check … it's a big balancing act.

How do you choose to show your support for your fellow authors? Are there things you find you just can't do? Where's your balance?

R.C. Lewis teaches math to teenagers—sometimes in sign language, sometimes not—so whether she's a science geek or a bookworm depends on when you look. Her debut novel Stitching Snow is coming from Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2014. You can find R.C. on Twitter (@RC_Lewis) and at her website.


JeffO said...

Like you, I don't do reviews, though I will sometimes comment on likes/don't likes. As for supporting fellow authors, I beta read, I have done cover reveals and guest posts/interviews, and I comment a fair amount on other blogs. And I loved what you said, don't look down on other authors. That's huge.

Mel Kinnel said...

I don't do reviews on my blog but I have done a cover reveal and had a guest interview. I'm more about the "congrats" for a fellow writer who has finished their project than picking apart (or not) their piece of work.

Sophie Perinot said...

This is a tricky topic indeed because of the evil "branding" once you are published and a "brand" you need to be careful not to praise things you don't feel are praiseworthy because--right or wrong--your endorsement (and trumpeting can be seen as that even where it is intended just to be "go you! you finished") can come back and impact your own brand/reputation.

I review very rarely. I tend to congratulate all on their lauch days as that does not imply I have read the book or that I am passing judgment on it.

thị hậu nguyễn said...

I don't do reviews on my blog but I have done a cover reveal and had a guest interview. I'm more about the "congrats" for a fellow writer who has finished their project than picking apart (or not) their piece of work.
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