No doubt most of you are familiar with the concept of “Paying it Forward.” In Catholic terms, it could be considered just good old-fashioned generosity. We are kind to others and try to help others, whether or not we receive any repayment for it. We trust that God will treat us with the same generosity we show towards others.
How, then, can we pay it forward in our writing careers? In the July/August 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest, thriller and young adult author Jordan Dane shares how she keeps a framed sticky note on her desk. It has one word on it: “Fantastic.” It was written by bestselling author Sharon Sala who encouraged Dane and helped find her an agent. This is a beautiful example of paying it forward. Dane writes, “When I asked how I could repay her kindness, she said, ‘Do the same for someone else.’”
Not all of us are bestselling authors with the power of connecting a fledgling writer to an agent, but we all have the power to offer encouragement and support to our fellow writers. We can help other writers in a variety of ways.
Here are five ways to Pay it Forward:
1) Write a (Kind) Review – I’ve written a lot of reviews in my life and I can usually find something kind to say about a book. I’m not saying you should give it five stars if it doesn’t deserve it, but have an open mind and a kind pen. As writers, we can appreciate the hard work that goes into writing a book. Treat others’ works the way you want your latest book to be treated. If you truly cannot say something kind, sometimes the best thing to do is not review it. (This is usually the tactic I take). There are plenty of good books out there to promote. There is no reason to tear someone down.
2) Buy a book – We all appreciate when someone buys our books. Especially now, with Kindle versions, it is often possible to spend 99 cents and support an author. Whether you intend to read the book or not, the price of a cup of coffee or a candy bar can go a long way in helping another author.
3) Be a beta reader. This is where those criticism tools can really come in handy. If someone asks you to read and comment on her work in progress, it is a great honor. Yes, it is time consuming, but we can all use the honest feedback at the point in the story-writing process when one can actually make changes.
4) Use Social Media to help promote other writings – I don’t know about you, but I hate shameless self-promotion. I find promoting other efforts much easier to do. So, go ahead and share about that great book you just read or about another author’s media interview or article.
5) Connect writers with those who can help them. As I stated at the beginning, we don’t all have the power to introduce someone to an agent, but we can make the connections we do have. As our own careers progress, those connections become greater.
Living generously is good for the soul and for one’s career. Pay it forward in your writing career and you’ll be happy you did.