While I have found contrary stories to this truth, I have - unfortunately - seen this to be true at times. There are writers who are not open to sharing information, to providing advice, to helping other writers up the rings to PublishDom. Niles talks about how interesting it is that as a writer moves up the ranks to having an established name, in gaining professional credits, and on earning money for his/her creative endeavors, the lack of help diminishes. She finds two reasons behind this:
1) The established writer fears losing his/her reputation. Example: established writer helps a newbie and recommends her to an agent or editor. The agent/editor thinks the work isn’t that great (which is subjective thinking anyway), and now the established writer fears his/her taste will be questioned and his/her reputation may be sullied.
2) The established writer fears losing his/her attention. Example: established writer helps a newbie get connected with his/her agent or editor. Agent/editor loves the newbie’s work and the newbie is lauded. Now, the established writer finds him/herself receiving less attention.
The two reasons above are not necessarily TRUTHS but perceptions that writers can take on. It’s HARD to get published. It’s even harder to STAY published. Because of this, there is always the fear that you may lose your spot in the publishing world to another. Do you want to be the reason behind losing your spot? Of course not. So instead of helping, some writers will hoard what they know.
Any form of negativity can interfere with a writer doing what he/she needs to do: WRITE. To be so protective of your coveted spot in the publishing world that you would not help others is a negative. To combat these feelings, Niles suggests that writers do three things: adjust their actions, defeat their ingratitude (learn to say thank you), and monitor their egos.
In adjusting actions, don’t think of just yourself. Doing things for others often bears positive fruit down the road. Learn to give…and receive. Don’t be underhanded. If you need help, ask, don’t try to find sneaky ways to get help, and don’t try to undermine someone else’s success.
In defeating ingratitude, learn to say thank, learn to send letters and cards to those who have helped you, learn to keep those who helped you in the loop on your progress, share your contacts and information, let those who helped you know that you were inspired by them.
In adjusting egos, give credit to those who have helped you, help those who are below you on the publishing chain, help SOMEONE (no one’s asking you to be the mentor for a million writers), forget about how no one helped you (this isn’t a pity party).
Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator, whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. She has published both creatively and academically and interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at The World According to ChickLitGurrl.