I was talking to some writers recently and we were discussing various RWA chapters around the nation. What we found interesting is that the chapters that were frequently mentioned, had huge published authors as members. What we also found interesting is that these chapters continued to produce great authors. Now, we did jokingly say that there must be something in the water, but in reality, the reason for the success came from the published authors.
There is a tendency for writers, once they have "made it" and moved from the unpub side of the room to the pub side of the room, to change how they now deal with other writers. With deadlines, new proposals, edits, speaking engagements, and publicity, finding time to attend those local writing chapter meetings or to help out with critiques takes second place in your life. I get it. You are busy.
But here is the thing. You were once unpublished and loved every moment when some published author helped out a bit with your career. They may have talked with you during a lunch break at a conference. Maybe they did a critique for you. It didn't matter how big it was, they were there for you even for that small amount of time.
Unpublished authors need that connection with those that have been there. They don't want to sit in a room with you as you "give your keynote speech" like some god or goddess (although these are fun and have a benefit). They want a little one-on-one time.
When we return to that comment I made earlier about the RWA chapters, the reason those chapters continue to produce is that many of those successful authors are there to help out. They still get their hands dirty and do those small things around the chapter to help out.
Look, I don't want to say your success is not a worthwhile accomplishment. I applaud your success as an author. But I do want to remind you that you were indeed once unpublished. You got there because someone else helped you along the way. So, what can you do?
- Don't say your are too busy to help out with your chapter contests. Sign up to read some of those stories and provide feedback.
- At RWA Nationals, don't hide away in the "PRO-ONLY LOUNGE" knowing no one can get to you.
- If an unpublished author does approach you with stars in their eyes, BE POLITE! Ask them about their work. Show them you care.
- Share your expertise with a few of those unpublished people.
- Don't talk to them about the strategies you use now to market or write proposals. Discuss how you approach these things as someone WITHOUT a following.
- Here's a challenge - I dare you, at the RWA National Conference, if you are a USA TODAY or NY TIMES Best Selling author, sit with those unpublished people way back in the back of the room. I dare you to make their day and just talk.