How Much Time Should You Commit

to Supporting Fellow Writers?

The indie writing community is rather tightknit, full of people supporting each other in their endeavors. We understand the value of cooperation: feedback leads to better writing, cross-promotion provides free marketing and favorable reviews sell books.

And we generally understand there’s no real competition in our industry. Just because a reader buys a book from Author A doesn’t really make it less likely he’ll also buy from Author B. So there’s no downside to helping each other out save time constraints.

And time constraints will become a problem as you grow more prominent in the community. You’ll find other writers requesting assistance more and more often: can you review my book? Give me feedback? Tweet about it?

Take it as a compliment. It means they respect you. And the community probably assisted you along the way, so you’d like to give back. But how do you balance your own projects with supporting fellow writers?

1. Retweeting

If you’re on Twitter, retweeting is a quick way of promoting a fellow writer. It’s also a bit of self-promotion, because your tweet now shows up in their feed.

2. Supporting their Blog

If the author has a blog, there’s lots of ways you can support it:

  • Create a list of fellow authors’ blogs and display it in a sidebar of your own blog, then encourage those authors to do the same. This system can easily lead to dozens of authors listing your own blog, and it requires zero effort on your part once you have made the list.
  • Create blog posts that reference the posts of other authors. When someone has said something witty or profound, share it with your own readers. It can be especially effective if you can add your own commentary to it. Be sure to provide a link to the author’s original post. While posting small amounts of quoted text is acceptable, repeating someone’s entire post is extremely bad form (not to mention a violation of copyright, which all authors should be defending).
  • Reference their blog posts in social media such as Twitter or Facebook.
  • Regularly leave comments on their posts. Comments tend to breed more comments, which encourage interest. It also gets your own name out there, so be sure to include a reference to your own site and/or your books.

3. Interviews

Interview an author and share it on your blog. This gives the writer an immense opportunity to share something of themselves and their works with a new audience. Then cross-promote, having the interviewee provide links to the interview on his blog and social media.

4. Guest Posting

Here’s another low-maintenance option: let another author write a post for your blog. Not only do you have to do very little with it, but it also saves you a post if you keep to a schedule!

5. Like Facebook Pages

Liking someone’s page takes no time out of your day, and you never have to do anything with it again. This assists in two ways. First, your own fans can see what you like, and they may check out some of those liked pages. Second, it ups the number of likes for your friend’s site. The simple fact is people take more-liked pages more seriously than less-liked pages. (The same goes for Twitter accounts.)

To take it a step further, you can also periodically share posts from the author’s Facebook page, providing exposure for them and page views for you.

6. Do an Author’s Night in Person or Online

Host an author’s night with another author. If you’re lucky enough to have one local, you might do it in person at a nearby bookstore. More likely, you’ll want to do it online. Not only does the distance not matter, but it’s also likely to attract more people.

This sort of cross-promotion allows two authors to effectively share a pool of fans.

Google Hangouts is useful for such an event, because it allows for real time updates as readers ask questions and you answer. Hangouts allows up to ten people to join a video chat, and it allows up to 150 to join a text-based session.

There’s a common thread throughout these possibilities: cross-promotion. While you are sincerely doing other authors a favor, you are including that help in your own marketing strategy. The effort you put out is also productive in terms of your own projects.

There’s a delicate balance to be had when you agree to assist other writers. It’s something that benefits the community as a whole, but it’s not reasonable to expect you to constantly pour energy into other people’s projects. You do need to be selective in how you direct your attention in order for your work to thrive as much as you hope others’ will.