Better Together: The Beauty in an Author Community
It was about a year ago when a well-connected, well-known author came to me and said, “I need help knowing how to market my new book because technology is changing so quickly.” I totally understood; it’s hard to keep up with the latest.
And then his next words surprised me: “I also need a community of people who get writing and this crazy book world. I’ve been an author for many years, and I feel lonely in that.”
“…I feel lonely in that.” Those words stuck with me in a big way. And since I first heard them, I’ve listened as the same sentiment is expressed by many other writers.
Being a writer is, by nature, a solitary pursuit. Sitting in front of a computer and putting words on a page, you’re a one-(wo)man show. And that solitude often doesn’t change when you’re in the marketing stage.
While I’m not a writer, I work with a lot of writers. I repeatedly hear about the hardship of feeling lonely and misunderstood. While the solitude and “portability” of the writing profession are gifts, they can also mean isolation.
My takeaway? You can’t be a satisfied, successful author and work in isolation. You have to step into community with other writers and marketers.
It was partly for this reason that I started the Author Coaching Network last fall. There was a need for marketing coaching, but there was also a need for book marketing collaboration and author community.
If I can, I’d love to brag about my first Author Coaching Network (ACN) group for a minute. They are rockstars! The group consisted of 15 authors, all committed to writing powerfully and marketing their books with excellence. They were men and women from across all phases of a book’s life–some at the very beginning with just a young book idea, others with numerous books already in the marketplace.
The marketing efforts and learning takeaways were massive, but the creativity and collaboration through the intentional author community are what really took the cake.
Part of the Author Coaching Network is an in-person Mastermind group (all about book marketing!), and on that first night in Nashville, everyone gathered around the table and met face-to-face for the first time. Within 15 minutes, intense one-on-one conversations were happening. These authors were hitting it off, engaging in deep and awesome dialogue about writing and marketing. It was incredible! Their ability to connect so easily was a really natural consequence of a shared passion for authorship.
Over the course of that weekend together, relationships were deepened. Pastor and author Scott Savage, a member of the group, wrote about it all on his blog. His comments about the dangers of isolation are spot-on. He writes, “This community experience pulled us out of isolation into collaboration. And all of us were leaving better than we came.”
One author came into the program with a big dream for a book, but with skepticism about marketing. Over the course of the six months, she saw the beauty in creatively sharing her product, and just recently, she launched her book with a bang–and with a team of author friends from ACN cheering her on every step of the way.
From this Author Coaching Network group, I’ve continued to learn the importance of community for an author. Here are six reasons why this structured camaraderie among writers is essential:
1- Community fights self-doubt.
Sitting solo in front of a blank screen can be dangerous. In that isolation, it’s easy to let lies slip into your brain. You know those voices that say, “You can’t do this,” or, “No one wants to hear what you have to say,” or, “You don’t know how to market this”? A community of writing peers provides exactly the encouragement you need to refute the lies and to be reminded that you can. Sure, it’s nice to have a spouse or a friend to remind you that you’re good enough, but it’s all the more powerful when it comes from someone who’s been in your shoes and felt the same feelings.
2- Community provides ideation.
When it comes to building a marketing plan or even coming up with book ideas, group brainstorming is gold. Truly, you can’t do it alone. Several heads are better than one. Creativity comes from collaborative ideation. Community is key. Author community lets you ask for help and feedback–and from people who know the game.Creativity comes from collaborative ideation. Community is key. Click To Tweet
3- Community offers cross-promotion.
I have loved seeing the ways that authors in ACN promote one another’s books and products. The most natural endorsers and influencers are those whom you know well and truly have a relationship with. When endorsements are based on passion for the person and the product, they’re more powerful and speak authenticity. Author community provides cross-promotional platforms to audiences that are already trained to consume valuable content and purchase books.
4- Community gives honest feedback.
Having fellow authors see your book proposal or dig through your marketing plan opens up an opportunity for feedback–and not just any feedback, the best feedback. Those who have been in your shoes or are walking through the same process have the best advice and understand the stakes. They know you can’t afford to mess it up, so they’ll say it how it is. Additionally, when you’re asked to take a look at others’ work–whether it be a proposal or a marketing plan–you gain a keener eye to see your own.
5- Community provides an industry network.
Not only do fellow authors provide you a social network and encouragement; they offer an important professional network, as well. Fellow authors can give you tips on agents or publicists, connect you to publishing house decision-makers, suggest folks to run your launch team or freelance-edit your work, etc. Knowing the right people will be a game-changer.
6- Community keeps you motivated.
Some days writing and marketing is easy; some days it’s hard. Writer’s block is real–and I even say that “marketer’s block” is too. A community of writers provides you with accountability. When you have to tell your author friends how chapter 3 turned out, or how your pre-order bonus plan is going, you have to actually put pen to paper. They give you deadlines that are hard to have on your own.
In Author Coaching Network, the author community aspect is built in through a face-to-face weekend of collaborating, but it is also fostered by side-by-side virtual learning and a private Facebook group. While social media is blamed for much of today’s social isolation, it can also be an incredible tool for everyday connection and virtual community.
I encourage you, as an author, to step into community. Both online connection and face-to-face collaboration are important–and they will inspire passion and longevity in your writing career like nothing else. (Not to mention, book sales see a spike!) Join a group like Author Coaching Network (more info is here, but spots are going fast!), or form your own. It’s a powerful resource for every successful author.