The Importance of a Strong Support System

An analogy for friends and family of writers everywhere

Writers need support. The biggest let down for a writer is the lack of support from loved ones. A lot of writers go through this in their career and many end up with no relationship, or one that is so strained that it is probably non-existent. This has already happened to me more than once. On the other hand, a lot of writers have an awesome support system that enables them to do better.

It’s common for a writer to have a failed support system because no one gets a writer. It’s why we often gravitate to our own kind.

Initial Support

The process of writing can be a tough task to tackle, but we writers all understand that it’s part of us. We can’t just set our stories aside because writing that polished draft is too hard. The stories burn into our brains, fighting for a way out. Sometimes we have to fight back.

Unfortunately, what a lot of non-writers do not understand is that the process also requires seclusion. The world we live in has to cease to exist in or for us to reach the world in which our characters evolve. Sometimes it means missing phone calls or being unable to go to a movie with family or friends. Sometimes it means we cease to exist. Yes, there will be time to put the story away and go to a wedding or birthday. It’s the times we can’t step away from the keyboard that we need to most support.

The initial stages of writing require a certain amount of support from family and friends to which no words can be put. So if you feel frustrated because the writer in your life hasn’t come around in a while, it doesn’t mean they are being aloof. It just means they’re busy writing. These initial stages of support are important to lay the groundwork for the future. A future that everyone can be involved in.

Interim Support

Interim is a process of support that goes beyond just giving a writer time and space. In this stage, the writer is also trying to expand on their network. And guess who the core of every writer’s network is? You guessed it: family and friends.

Interim Support is perhaps even more important than stage one because this stage can make or break whether the writer can even find a publisher for their work. It means expanding on networking, because newer writers need to have more than just a great story to bring to the table. They need:

  • A large social network of followers
  • A blog with a large network of followers.
  • and, of course, a great story.

Many publishers require this for newer writers because marketing budgets are not what they once were. They might get some promotional copies, a few business cards or bookmarks, a copy of a press release, or some small posters. Everything else is up to the writer to promote. That means getting the word out.

Basically it boils down to newer writers having a following to get their promotion off the ground. The larger their following, the greater their chances are that the publisher will be interested in their story. If they don’t have a following, they often fail. Typically, reaching upwards of 200 per platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Blog) is ideal because it gives the writer access to 1,000 potential readers right off the bat.

So here is what family and friends can do to help:

  • Like social media pages that the writer sets up.
  • Share posts that you like or think anyone else you know might like.
  • Tell others about their work (word of mouth is very powerful stuff).
  • If the writer is asking for help promoting something, don’t hesitate to do so. It means they need help.

Finishing Support

Where Initial Support and Interim Support are very important to the writer, Finishing Support is the real clincher. This stage begins with a finished story–it could be a short story or a manuscript–which has been accepted for publication. But sales don’t just magically happen. Now the writer is ready to launch a marketing campaign.

support a writer badgeThe success of the marketing campaign will again depend on that crutch the writer has been leaning on for so long: the support of friends and family. They play a key role promoting the story in much the same way that those in-home party sales reps need. If the sales rep couldn’t get family or friends to book a few parties to get them started, the new enterprise would fall flat. For writers, promotion for their story is much the same. Family and friends can buy the book to support the writer, sure; but the key to success isn’t in sales to family and friends. It’s getting the word out.

Imagine if a writer had 200 friends on Facebook. Those 200 friends all supported the author simply by sharing a post from the writer about the new book. Each of those friends has 200 friends of their own. Now that story has reached roughly 40,000 people on a personal level! That’s no number to roll your eyes at. Even if only 1/4 of those people actually had interest enough to buy the book, that’s still 10,000 copies. Do you see the importance of this support now?

But just promoting the writer isn’t enough. You might be wondering, “What now?” Remember how I talked about buying the book? Well, even if everyone doesn’t, those who do should make it known. Write an honest review on sites like GoodReads or Amazon. Give it a rating. It helps increase the credibility of the author and the ranking they have on the sites. That ranking can help increase future sales, and perhaps future books as well. If you have a blog, write a review of the book and host the writer on a “Virtual Blog Tour.” If only half of the 10,000 that bought the book on the first round of sales (so 5,000 reviews) wrote a review it would have a drastic impact on the future of that writer.

It’s all coming together now, right?

This is an ongoing process. With each new story the author will go through the rounds of support again, until the day comes when they have a large enough independent following to sustain itself.

If a writer can’t get support and help from family and friends when they need it, they will never succeed. It’s sort of like window shopping. If you see something you think someone else might like in a window, but never tell them about it, odds are that person will never even know it existed.

For more tips on how you can help support the writer in your life, read this great article.

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