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If You Want Support, Give It (In Other Words, Don’t Be a Dick)

Chuck at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.
Photo credit: SiWC 2014

I see a lot of writers asking for help on social media.

Buy my book! Follow me on Twitter! Like my Facebook page! Review my book! Did I mention I have a book coming out? Oh God, PLEASE BUY MY BOOK!

You know the easiest way to get support from other writers?

Give it.

Get to know them as people. Like their Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter. Ask them how their writing is coming along.

Social media is for building relationships, not for constant commercials and pleas for support.

And the funny thing is, if you’re the type of writer who gives support to others, you will get a lot of it back–without even asking. How awesome is that?

I’ve met a lot of writers–some famous and some not so famous. And I’ve discovered you can learn a lot about these people by observing how they treat their fans and colleagues.

At the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I was thrilled to finally meet Chuck Wendig. I’ve been a fan of his blog for a long time, but I didn’t want to just go up to him and say, “Hey, thanks for all the free content! It’s awesome, and I’m repaying you by not doing a goddamn thing.”

So I bought one of his books and asked him to sign it.

He was great–a lot sweeter and more approachable than you’d expect from reading his hilarious-but-often-caustic blog. But it was what he did after the signing that really made an impression.

He followed me back on Twitter! And if you don’t think this is a big deal, you haven’t followed many published authors on Twitter. Hardly any of them follow back. (And why? It’s such an easy thing to do and it makes people feel so good.)

I kept hearing it over and over again throughout the conference. “CHUCK WENDIG FOLLOWED ME ON TWITTER!” Everyone who said it was beaming. Chuck made a lot of people feel really good that weekend. And what did it cost him? Nothing. He doesn’t have to read our tweets (but he does). He could just make lists of the awesome people and ignore the peons if he wanted to.

The day after the signing, we crossed paths in the hall, and he remembered me. He asked me some questions about my writing–questions that made it clear he had actually taken the time to look at my profile.

So you know what I did when I got home? I ordered a bunch of Chuck Wendig books. I’m really enjoying the book I bought at the conference, but even if I weren’t, people like him deserve support.

The people who constantly ask for support but never give it? Not so much.

I’ve bought books from at least seven different authors at that conference based on who they are as people, not their work. I’m not a fan of epic fantasy, but I buy Jack Whyte’s books because he is so supportive of other writers. He sponsors an annual writing contest, interacts with fans on his forum, and holds a masterclass where he patiently reads and critiques umpteen pages of crap.

It’s not enough to be a great writer anymore. You also have to be a good person.

So, in the immortal words of Chuck Wendig, don’t be a dick.

Have you met a famous or not-so-famous writer or other celebrity? How did the encounter go? Have you ever bought someone’s work (or seen their show, etc.) simply because you like them?

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  1. Rhonda

    Superbly said, Miss. Holli 🙂

    Uh… I see a new name, am I still allowed to call you Holli? LOL

    • J.H. Moncrieff

      Sure, but J.H. or J would be better on a public forum. I’m easy, though. 😉

      J.H. is my writing name, and I’ve got a book coming out.

    • J.H. Moncrieff

      Thanks Crystal, and thanks for commenting. It is totally true, especially in this day and age when writers are so accessible.

      If an author acts like a jerk to their fans or to other writers in general, I completely lose interest in supporting them.

  2. Anita Eva

    Great blog post! It must have been so validating for Chuck Wendig to ask questions about your writing, too 🙂 I’m with you on not supporting authors who act like jerks to their fans.

    Years ago I met one of my writing heroes at a book signing–he could have swatted me like a fly, but we chatted about my book for a few moments, which I’ll always treasure. I’ve bought books even when I could get review copies because I wanted to support the authors.

  3. J.H. Moncrieff

    Welcome to my blog, Anita! Yes, it was hugely validating. It was so cool of him.

    I wish everyone realized how little it takes to make a fan for life. Or, conversely, lose them for good, no matter how amazing the writing is.

  4. Susan Scott

    re-trying to post a comment … thanks J.H. for great post, nailed – give and receive.

  5. J.H. Moncrieff

    Did I mention I’m getting a new website soon, Susan? No more Blogger glitches! 🙂

    Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you liked the post.

  6. Steven

    Once when I was at a local bookstore here and was waiting at the customer service desk for something, an out-of-state author and his wife literally pushed in front of me and started yelling at the worker about how things weren’t just the way they wanted for the guy’s book signing. As I was leaving, I passed by the guy sitting at a table, looking pissed off as nobody was there. Did I feel bad? Considering what a dick he was to everyone, no.

    • J.H. Moncrieff

      Wow, that’s a great example of a writer behaving badly! No wonder he wasn’t getting any support–do you think he connected the two?

      I recently connected with a self-published author at a conference. She was a friend of a friend, and I liked the sound of her book, so I bought it to support her. We had a great chat, and I’d thought we’d connected, since we had a lot in common. She suggested we keep in touch, and even wrote in my copy of her book that she was “looking forward to keeping in touch on Twitter!”

      Not only did she NOT follow me back on Twitter, she became my Facebook friend only to delete me a day later for no apparent reason. When I politely asked if I’d offended her, she re-added me, but didn’t answer the question. She also didn’t respond to a kind letter about how much I liked her book, or a question I’d asked because I was considering spending hundreds of dollars at her other business! And then she had the nerve to ask me to give her a positive review. This is the kind of thing I mean. We’re all busy, but how long does it take to write, “Thanks. I’m swamped, but let’s touch base on this next week. Glad you loved the book!”


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