For the month of February, I've invited various authors with current releases to share something about their writing. This week, I'd like you to meet Wendy Tyson, author of the Allison Campbell series and her new release, A Muddied Murder, available on March 29. I met Wendy when she appeared on a mystery writers' panel at my local indie bookstore. Her books are awesome, and she's offered to share some tips for authors that will gain you lots of personal satisfaction and visibility.
Authors are a giving bunch. It never ceases to amaze me just how warm and welcoming suspense authors—folks seemingly preoccupied with crime—can be. I hear a lot of talk about paying it forward, and I have certainly been on the receiving end of established authors’ good will. An author never forgets that successful writer who agrees to write a blurb for an unknown debut, or that author who offers her or his own social media platform to promote a lesser-known author’s work.
· Mentor other writers. Once you’re published, other writers will reach out—for guidance, support, even endorsements. Taking the time to respond to them will mean a lot, even if you can’t do what they’re asking. We’ve all been novices at some point. Remember how it feels to be the new person trying to decipher the confusing world of publishing and give someone the benefit of your experience.
· Teach a class. Sharing your insight is a great way to give back. This can be done individually, but also through workshops and at conferences. If you have a particular skill, offer to teach a class. Writing festivals are often looking for workshop leaders, as are libraries. Teaching is also a great way to make connections.
· Support local libraries and independent bookstores. If you’re lucky enough to have a great indie bookstore nearby, go! Attend events, buy books, mention it online and offer to do signings there. Same for public libraries. I found my hometown library to be a great support and resource. You can offer to help the library by holding workshops and participating in speaking events.
· Visit book clubs. I love book clubs, and I’ve found book club visits to be a terrific way to connect with readers. Plus, in my experience, book club members are incredibly appreciative of an author’s time. Every time I attend one, I learn something new about my own work—and I make new friends. You don’t have to go to someone’s house. You can offer to meet in a public place (like a library or bookstore), or you can do it online via Skype or another platform if you’d prefer.
· Nurture kids’ writing. One of my favorite ways of giving back is by talking to kids about writing. I’ve found them eager to learn and excited about the possibilities. Stop by your local schools and offer to talk to students, or reach out to local libraries or writing camps.
· Fundraise. Do you write about animals? Children? Human trafficking? Find a way to use your platform to raise money for a worthy cause related to your work—or a cause close to your heart. Sometimes fund raising can be as simple as doing a book signing at a nonprofit event. You can also educate or heighten awareness about a particular topic. Of course, you want to be careful to avoid the soapbox, but if you present a balanced view, you may be surprised at the receptiveness of readers and other authors.
· Volunteer. There really are endless ways you can volunteer to use your writing abilities to benefit From taking on a role in a writing organization, to writing brochures for a local charity, to donating your time during a writing convention, you’ll likely find people eager for your help and expertise.others.
In the end, giving back to the writing community will pay back in dividends. Not only will you have the satisfaction of helping others, but you’ll create more presence in the industry and have the opportunity network beyond your inner circle.