Writing is a solitary occupation. Why do people say this? I never understood it. Yes, there are elements of the writing process that may seem lonely, even if you write with a partner, but it is far from a solitary occupation. Writing in your private journal, sure. That is a solitary occupation and I encourage you to keep it that way! No one has a right to those thoughts unless you move them to a format for consumption or you die and have no plan for what happens to those words. Not to sound all gloom and doom, but if you write anything, you need a plan for that. Totally will cover those sad thoughts in another post. This post is about the 10 essential people every writer should know. Only 10, you say? Well, it's a 10 things list, so that is why I put the word essential in. Your list may look different than mine. Maybe you never thought about these ingredients to your metaphoric author cake, but hopefully, you will give some thought to it now and explore anyone you might be missing from this list.
10. The reader. Not just any reader, but a reader who likes what you write. Not that they like what YOU write, per se, but they are an avid reader in the genre of the book(s) you are publishing. Bonus if this person is someone you are not friends with. If you become friends with this person beyond writing and reading, find another person for this slot. Why? It is challenging to tell people you care about the whole truth. You lose objectivity, even when you
9. The Fan. This person is in your life for one very important purpose-this person reminds you that someone out there digs what you write. They want to read it. They get you. Your humor. This person is your number one cheerleader. Never take this person for granted. If you have more than one, count yourself lucky and treat them all well!
8. The Editor. Ideally, one you pay who may or may not know you personally. This is a double-edged situation. You don't want someone you don't know handling your work, right? Wrong. You don't want someone you can't TRUST handling your work. Even the major publishers have had problems with readers and editors leaking or flat out stealing books. Look for and check on references. If someone is not willing to provide you with published authors that you can purchase a book and read the results of their editing work, contact for the praise about said editing work, and so forth, then you may want to keep looking for an editor. Then there are the editors you do know, you trust with your work, but you have a personal relationship with this person so things can get complicated if their editorial wisdom is contradictory to your creative vision. If their style conflicts with yours. If they are truly qualified to do this job. If you are paying ANYONE for edits. Make sure it is very clear what you expect. Be on the lookout for more on that--check the podcast.
7. The Cover Artist. Sure, you may have all the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do your own book covers. It's one of those just because you can doesn't mean you should. Before you say, "Uh, haven't you made some of your own covers?" I admit, yes. There are covers that I have made. Some of those worked out awesome. Some of those were and will be replaced as I can afford to do that. Some covers that were purchased many years ago need updating. You don't even have to purchase your covers from this person, especially if they are family or close friends with you, but you need that person who can point out elements you would not even notice or think about. You may end up paying very little for an amazing cover or you could pay a whole lot for a crappy one. It happens. Having someone with a visual eye who understands the pros and cons of cover images and formats for books...this is a person you want in your life. Don't overuse them! Also, don't ask them to tell you things you want to hear. You don't have to take their advice, but don't get mad when they point out an element you loved that they don't. It's art. Everyone's perception is different.
6. The Social Media Guru. This does not even have to be someone in the profession or field of writing. This person may be the young person around you who understands how to operate whatever SM account you are trying to add something to, delete something from, etc. SM is one of the life-blood marketing arenas for authors. You will run into an issue at some point. You need someone to ask because the likelihood other authors in your social circle will know is not high.
5. That One Author Friend. You know, the one who is always trying new things and encouraging you to do that too.
4. That Other Author Friend. You know, the one who is set in their ways and reminds you of the cost/return balance of the business of writing.
3. Mentor. The person you turn to for real input and advice. This person will not always be the same for many of us. You may end up with a variety of these in your writing life. Be one when you can.
2. The Failure. Anyone who has labeled themselves a failure in any business industry. Why? Because things will happen. Not everything you do will be a wild success and you need to know how to persevere through that. You need to know what steps to take after that. Do you stop, slow down, change courses, remap the whole plan? This person has been there and done that. Listen to their warnings, but always be prepared to take your own risks and be responsible for those decisions YOU make.
The Success Story. Success as a writer of any kind, but especially as an author is not always measured in dollars. Sure, that helps. However, when you first started writing for the purpose of publishing you probably just wanted someone to read it. Then someone to like it. Then....you see where this is going. There are so many steps on the ladder of success that you have probably been climbing them unaware that you are hitting those milestones, being viewed as successful to the person just stepping up to the ladder. Find someone who has the writing career you want and then reverse engineer their process if you can even get access to it. Not everyone will be like Stephen King and write a book about it. You might find that some of the steps they took are ones you are not ready or willing to take.