Ways to Support the Author in Your Life

Yahoo Image Search

Yahoo Image Search

Many of us have seen the above picture and it’s right.  That is a great way to support an author that you enjoy and want to see them continue.  Yet, there is another area of support that I wanted to touch on.  What do you do if the author in question isn’t a favorite, but part of your non-cyberspace circle?  Maybe a spouse, a sibling, a friend, or somebody that you interact with outside of a computer.  Is there anything else you can do besides the following phrase?

“I support you and know you can do it.”

This is a powerful phrase, but you have to be ready to back it up with actions such as simply telling others about the book or even beta reading if asked.  Don’t say it and follow up by asking about the author’s Plan B, grilling them about sales made, pointing out the odds of success, or anything that you probably think is helpful as a Devil’s Advocate.  Authors mentally and emotionally beat the shit out of each other enough.  We really don’t need those within our physical presence to add to our stress.  As workers of words, many authors even leave themselves exposed to these things in a negative way.  Remember that authors work with layers beyond what is really being said, so they can look further into your words than you may expect.  Asking about Plan B could easily be interpreted as ‘My support is to placate you, but I really think you should grow up and get a real job instead of acting like a child’.

Patience-and-Time

So, what are some things you can ‘give’ to an author?  I can think of four things:

  1. Time–  Even if the author is a pantser, writing and editing takes time.  Formatting and promoting a book takes time.  Getting cover art takes time.  Being an author takes a lot of time and you need to understand that.  Every non-author event, errand, and request takes away from that time.  If you don’t give the author time to work on their craft then you aren’t really supporting them.  FYI-  Giving them time at the end of the day when you’ve worn them out both physically and mentally, doesn’t count.  It’d be like you being run around to help other people and THEN put back into your job without rest or time to gather your thoughts.  Since writing is very mental and emotional, this course of action typically results in the author not even trying that day.
  2. Patience– This connects very closely with time.  Creating a book and making it the best that can be requires patience.  Not just for the author, but for those around them.  You will have moments where they refuse to leave the work alone because they are on a roll or something is gnawing at them.  This is what most artists are like.  It’s an itch that has to be scratched or the author will be unfocused.  Maybe even irritable.  Patience goes double for anyone trying to make a career of it.  Rowling, King, Tolkien, Steele, and all of the big names weren’t famous over night.  It took a lot of patience and hard work for them to get there.  Don’t believe me?  George R.R. Martin published the first Game of Thrones book in 1996.  The TV show hit in 2011 and that’s when he became the household name.  15 years for him to reach a level that you might be expecting your author friend/family member to make in 3 years time.  Any author who makes it big overnight is DAMN lucky and I don’t think that system exists any more.
  3. Space/Privacy–  Many who follow this blog probably know that I don’t have an office.  I work on my bed or downstairs at the table.  The latter tends to put me in traffic while the former means I only have to deal with the phone.  God knows how many times I’ve smacked that cordless bastard.  Anyway, an author needs space, privacy, and quiet to focus on what they’re doing.  This is the same for any job.  You don’t walk about to a construction worker using a jackhammer and start talking to him about the grocery list or a funny article.  Just give the person space and if you REALLY need to talk to them, politely ask if they’re busy.  Don’t just walk up to them and start jabbering away as if they can drop what they’re doing.  It’s insulting, frustrating, and means you’re talking a person that isn’t happy to see you.  So somebody better be sick, injured, dead, or some other time of emergency when this happens.  Oh, and if you’re excuse is that the author has music or the TV on then I have some insight for you.  For some, sounds we can control the source of are fine.  I can mute Pandora and the TV with ease.  The only way I can mute another person is with a stun gun and that just means you’re going to interrupt me later because you feel I overreacted.
  4. Understanding– No, I don’t mean understanding the author’s story.  If they are trying to explain then at least attempt to follow along.  Many times an author will be talking about their story to get it straight in their own head.  At these points, you’re there so that the author isn’t talking to himself like a crazy person.  Anyway, understanding means to realize that this is a path that they love and they look at it as a job.  Not a hobby like you might see it, but a way to gain fulfillment and happiness.  This means the money doesn’t always factor in and repeatedly bringing it up can cause friction.  I admit that his is the hardest way to help even between other authors.  You really have to listen and let go of your own priorities/goals/whatever to get a sense of what the other person is trying to explain.  If an author feels like they’re not understood by those around them then their entire support structure could collapse.  They’re alone and have no idea who to turn to for help.  Even admitting you don’t understand, but won’t get in the way is a positive thing.  Because if you don’t understand and try to push the author toward what you think they should do then you aren’t helping.  In fact, you’re probably hurting them in some fashion and creating that isolation I mentioned.
Yahoo Image Search

Yahoo Image Search

So, what if you don’t support the author friend and think they have to stop?  I mean, it’s a free country and you might not have the patience to give the space and time to someone you don’t really understand.  If that’s the case then simply stay out of the way.  Maybe this person can’t be cut out of your life, so you find other stuff to talk about.  If called on your lack of support then state that you don’t like what they’re doing, but you’re staying out of the way.  It might hurt the author, but at least you aren’t trying to stop them.  That usually doesn’t end well.

One thing you SHOULD NOT DO, is question the people who still support the author and attempt to make them feel like they’re idiots for doing so.  Say you do get through and start turning people against the author.  You may think you’re gathering an army to save this poor soul from him or herself.  In reality, you’re isolating them from their circle and creating resentment and distrust.  Not only toward you, if they even know you’re behind it, but to everyone around them.  It isn’t that they’ll suddenly think they weren’t good enough to make it.  It’s now that they were abandoned by their circle and never given a chance, which isn’t a person you want to deal with when you need help.  Maybe all the earlier support is now seen as lies too.  Honestly, attempting to pity those who support an author trying to make it does so much damage once that author finds out.  Relationships across the board take some hits and all because you had no faith in the other person.  See, how much easier it is to simply stay out of the way or avoid the topic?

Wow.  This was a really long post.  As you can guess, I needed to get something off my chest.  I’m sure I’ll have some real world conversations coming out of this one from various blog spies.  Whatever.  I think this had to be said because an author is only as strong as his or her support team.  At least that’s what I believe.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
This entry was posted in Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Ways to Support the Author in Your Life

  1. Oloriel says:

    Excellent pointers, Charles! I need to point my spies over here as well (but we must make sure the spy agencies do not meet and engage with each other. The last thing I need is for them to find a support group!), so they can get a hint, so to say.

    Like

  2. L. Marie says:

    Charles, I hear you! Thanks for this comprehensive list of ways to support an author. With your publishing schedule, I’m sure you need to be able to concentrate and get the work done.

    I don’t have an office either. I work at home, either on my own books or freelance projects. Because I work at home, I sometimes get phone calls or texts from someone who is bored and assumes I’m not doing anything because I’m home. I never got that kind of attention when I worked in house for a company.

    Family members and some friends seldom ask me to talk about my stories. Some are not fantasy readers. I guess some hope I’ll give up this madness and “get a real job.” In some ways, I’m grateful they don’t ask in depth questions. I don’t want a bunch of opinions about what should happen in the story. And that’s what happens sometimes when someone asks about a book. Or sometimes I’m told, “Why don’t you write about (insert an adult topic that is totally inappropriate for my 9-12 year old audience)?” I just smile and nod at comments like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get the texts at times too. Though I find them easier to delay a response to because one can always read it later. Not like a phone that keeps ringing and leads to a beeping answering machine. I guess when you work out of the house, people know you’re busy and that the company has rules against using the phone. Working from home is seen more as you having guidelines than rules because you can’t really fire yourself.

      Interesting that people make suggestions that don’t fit your audience. Guessing it’s something they want to see or assume will sell amazingly well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. Marie says:

        ” Guessing it’s something they want to see or assume will sell amazingly well.” Usually those making suggestions aren’t interested in books for kids or fantasy for any age. They’re interested in nonfiction or realistic fiction. This is their way of saying, “Write something else.” Unfortunately for them, I can be very stubborn.

        Like

      • My response to them would be ‘write it yourself’ if they kept pushing. I’ll never understand why some people believe anything outside of nonfiction or realistic fiction are pointless. That and how the authors behind the other genres are talentless.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jan Hawke says:

    Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    Charles – I hear you. It’s horrible to admit, but I’ve got more ‘proper’ and quality writerly work in this nearly a year since my husband died than I ever have before. It’s not that he didn’t support me in practical tangible way (I dearly miss the cups of tea, distracting the dogs and even the occasional sinful fry-up when I was on a roll), but the peace and quiet factor has been bliss, even though I haven’t been actively engaged with the work in progress. I’ve had time and space for building up my platforms and dealing with all the real chores of being a writer so that 2016 is the first year I can say that I’m actually looking forward to the marketing and promotion chores as well as the core writing (which I’ll be back in harness for next month). We DO need support of the intimate kind – just in the background and with the sound right down! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry for your loss. I have noticed that authors who get more done with less stress and delays tend to have fewer people around them. Loners, retirees, small families, or whatever the situation. The truth is that other people who live in the same house require attention. Not only children, but adults. In fact, I’ve found that my wife and parents get underfoot more than the 6-year-old. Good luck with your 2016 plans.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well said. I’m pretty much alone in this, outside of my online circle. Nobody else gets it, or wants to. Talking about any of this with actual people is a sure fire way to kill a conversation. I am left alone, but that might not be for the best either. I think we all carry our burden and forge ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There is a downside to being left alone. For me, it’s that I have nobody to bounce ideas off of. If the Internet goes down and my phone runs out of power then I’m isolated. To be fair, sometimes the killing of a conversation can get one out of a very boring 15 minutes.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on Nicholas C. Rossis and commented:
    My brilliant author friend, Charles E. Yallowitz, shares some sage advice.

    Like

  6. VelahAuthor says:

    I like that final meme; “It only takes one…” Can I relate? Absolutely!
    Great info, Charles! Keep ’em coming!
    — John

    Like

  7. MRS N, the Author says:

    Reblogged this on POTL: All Things Books, Reading and Publishing and commented:
    My fellow author has some very insightful advice for authors, their circle of friends/family and followers. Saying something as simple as, “You can do it” or “You matter” goes a long way to supporting an author.

    MRS N aka N. N. Light

    Like

  8. adeleulnais says:

    Charles thank you for posting this, it explains everything really well. I am lucky that I have the support of my wife Becca but this post goes into all the little details that really make an author feel supported and cared for. Just what everyone who loves a job they do deserves. thank you again. oh and have reblogged on firefly465

    Like

    • You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it. People tend to get surprised by all these little, simple details that come into play with authors. They think in terms of money and sales, but never at what’s needing to make the product prior to publishing.

      Like

  9. adeleulnais says:

    Reblogged this on firefly465 and commented:
    Please read this wonderful post as it explains every little detail about how you can support an author.

    Like

  10. Great post, Charles. It would be nice if when one reaches out to someone to complain they wouldn’t say, “Well you brought this on yourself.”

    Like

  11. I agree with everyone else. This is all excellent advice, Charles. A lot of the time my family just humour me in my writing endeavours. They see it as a hobby and, perhaps it is, but they just don’t understand that it’s much more than that on a personal level. I’ve given up trying to explain it. I think my writing friends on here keep me sane, though I have said for a long time I need to go to a writing group – so I don’t have to deal with the eye rolls, or the groans, when I want to wax lyrical about my characters 😉

    Like

  12. This is a great post, Charles. What wonderful words of wisdom for anyone living with or supporting a writer/author. Beautifully stated 🙂

    Like

  13. Not having a private office would be hard for me, definitely. I had to train my kids to respect my work time whe they were younger. (Now they’re teens and don’ t want to associate with me.) At least my husband is supportive!

    Like

  14. Jack Flacco says:

    I so understand this: “So somebody better be sick, injured, dead, or some other time of emergency when this happens.”

    I SO understand this!

    Like

  15. I think this is one of my favorite posts of yours that you’ve ever written. And it’s partly because I can feel your frustration flowing through the words — made all the more powerful because it’s a frustration all of us have experienced before! I can’t stand when people say “Oh, I’m only playing devil’s advocate.” Maybe that’s what you think you’re doing, but if you’re purposely taking the opposite side (without being asked), it’s because you, on some subconscious level, don’t support me. Or, rather, you think what I’m doing isn’t the right move, and instead of just saying that, you’re trying to undermine my confidence. It’s infuriating. Sometimes I’ve actually found myself saying to that sort of person, “I know you’re trying to help, but I’m not looking for a devil’s advocate right now. Just be happy for me and support me, okay?”

    Anyway, love this post, A+ job, and keep right on writing, sir — you’re awesome!

    Like

    • Thanks. Really let the words and thoughts fly on this one. Felt like it had to be said. I despise the Devil’s Advocate thing. As if an author doesn’t already have one on his/her shoulder whispering away. It’s like these people think you put blinders on and need to see the negative side of the path. We know it’s there, but focusing on it too much is more dangerous than in any non-artistic field. Sounds like you have a better tactic than me. 🙂

      Like

  16. Reblogged this on Myths of the Mirror and commented:
    Writing can be crazy-making. We read posts making fun of the writing life, our quirks and insecurities, our endless search for balance. I’m blessed to live with a person who supports my passion, values my work, and stays out of my creative way. Charles Yallowitz wrote this great post with another take on how to support the writer(s) in your life. In case you missed it…

    Like

  17. Great post! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Like

  18. You are exactly right. It does take such a physical and mental toll..especially if the author has a day job….don’t get me started on people talking to me while trying to write. My husband loves to talk 🙂

    Like

    • My wife is the same with loving to talk and not noticing when I’m working. I don’t have a day job outside of parenting a 6-year-old, but that has its own pitfalls when it comes to writing time. Usually me stepping away to get a drink and coming back to 3 pages of one letter.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Steven Baird says:

    Brilliant and significant. Thank you!

    Like

  20. Support is pretty crucial, especially when we get knock backs as you do … great article Charles.

    Like

  21. Mahevash says:

    Support…more important in action than in words. Great post illustrating the struggles of the writer’s life.

    Like

  22. Pingback: Top of 2016 #5: Ways to the Support the Author in Your Life | Legends of Windemere

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s