Thursday, June 04, 2009

Helping Each Other

Let's talk about the Internet, and why it is the greatest invention in the history of mankind.

Our success as a species has to do with a lot of things. Opposable thumbs. Large brains. Walking upright. Making tools and fire and wheels.

But the thing that allowed us to spread across the planet is language.

Language allows us to communicate with one another. Communication means we can cooperate better and share information. But this isn't the telephone, where the words are lost to time, or a book which is dependent on a print copy only available to a finite number of people.

The Internet is permanent, and accessible by everyone.

What a gift for authors, who need a way to spread the word of their existence in order to survive.

And yet, I don't see many authors doing this to the degree they could or should. And fans, who anxiously await an author's next book, then wonder why the next book never comes (hint: it's because the author was dropped by their publisher.)

Well, I do my damnedest to help other authors. Here are some of the ways I try to:

1. Links. Look in the sidebar, or on my website, and you'll see I link to hundreds of blogs and websites. This isn't just an one-sided endorsement by me, because mutual links help raise Google rankings for sites that reciprocate.

2. Newsletters. In at least one newsletter a year, I recommend books written by my peers to my fans. Imagine if all authors did this.

3. Reviews. I review my friends. We all should.

4. I mention books by my peers when I do interviews and speak in public.

5. Pimping. This goes beyond links and mentions. With several of my buddies, I push their books, and push pretty hard.

6. Blogging. I've been known to interview other authors on occasion.

So why aren't all authors doing this?

We aren't in competition with one another. We're not all islands unto ourselves. It doesn't detract from our sales to mention someone else's book. In fact, fans like these recommendations.

If you're an author, look at your links. Look at your newsletter. Look at your blog. Check how often you mention other authors in general (and me in particular.)

And if you're a fan, the best thing you can do to ensure an author you like continues to get published is to tell other people about their books. Either in person, or online via reviews, social networks, forums, listservs, etc.

Just imagine how many new people we could reach if we pooled our efforts.