Do you know what I owe most to any success (however minor) I’ve had with publishing my stories?
Look no further than the title of this blog post. Collaboration!
I’ve been very fortunate to work with some talented, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and very patient people over the course of my writing career. (And let’s be clear–you have to be patient to work with me) From my excellent developmental editor, cover designers, alpha- and beta-readers–or just readers who give extremely helpful feedback–I am not an island.
What I’ve discovered, since I started writing my first book (JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE) when I was a teenager, most people cannot do well in the publishing world alone. I am no exception.
Collaboration is integral in so many jobs, and writing is no exception. While the bulk of the writing process is done alone, in front of a keyboard, while massive amounts of coffee (or caffeinated drink of choice) and snacks are consumed, there are steps before, during, and after, that require more than one set of eyes and hands.
From the developmental editor who listens to my ideas, or reads my outlines and writing samples and helps make sense of it (or reads a finished manuscript and gives me TONS of notes to elevate the plot and characters), to the reader at the end of the line, it’s a group effort.
Every step of the way–other than the actual writing itself–I have help and support.
I depend on a lot of people to help me make my stories as good as they can be. However, I also do what I want, so if my stories are not good, it’s because I didn’t listen to someone. The people who help me share the credit when things go well, but don’t get any of the blame when things go bad. That’s on me and my stubbornness.
The people I work with are honest without being cruel. They suggest ideas that elevate my own. They encourage me when I’m feeling defeated. They keep me grounded when I get full of myself. They’re ears and shoulders in a time of need. They’re comic relief when things seem dire. And they’re my own personal Google when I have no idea what I’m doing.
I know that without the help of the people I work with, everything would be a complete mess and I probably wouldn’t have sold a single book. Of course, a bit of talent, luck, and basic knowledge of how to write a story matters, but the people who support you are invaluable. They make being a writer worthwhile.
One thing that I fail to do time and time again is credit the people who have helped me in my writing journey. I try really hard to remember to give credit where it is due, but I often get caught up in how excited I am with a project and…just forget. Luckily, those I work with know that I don’t intentionally forget them, so there are never any fights about it.
Regardless, I always want those who help me to know how much I appreciate them. However, most of them are like me – they don’t like the spotlight being put on them. Quickly, Allen, Chelle, Bae, Marty, TJ, Teresa, all my alpha- and beta-readers, the end-product readers, reviewers who get word out, Dean (@DeanColeWriter) for his excellent, gorgeous covers for the JMI series and THE GRAVITY OF NOTHING, and anyone who has selflessly offered tips, tricks, and critique.
I owe all of you a big hug–unless you’re the “no touchy” type. You can have a smile and a “thank you” from an acceptable ten feet away.
Overall, one piece of advice I would give to any writers is that you should always be willing to listen. Of course, sometimes you will get bad advice, or people will intentionally try to sabotage you, or you will even get advice from people who feel they are more knowledgeable than they actually are. If you learn to spot good and bad advice, locate some great allies, find people who actually know what they’re talking about, you find lifelong collaborators.
Collaboration only elevates work and makes it better. Not to say that a writer cannot strike out on their own and write a really good story, but having other people work with you, to really give it a shine, is always great.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,