Self-Publishing – Your Fellow Authors are not Your Enemies – Let’s Help Each Other

If you are like me, you are aware of the thousands of other authors that are in the self-publishing universe on social media platforms. We all belong to groups on Facebook and we promote our books, blogs, giveaways, and events. We start to see the same names over and over relentlessly touting our work.

As I first entered the self-publishing world, I viewed all of these authors as people that were competing for my readers. I wanted to out-promote and out-sell all of them. Over the past year or so, however, my view has changed. Instead of viewing my fellow authors as competitors, I have come to think of them as fellow pioneers. I selected the word pioneer purposely. Early American pioneers didn’t compete against each other. The amount of land and natural resources available were abundant. Pioneers worked together to build houses and cultivate crops so that they could all survive. If they had competed against each other, it is likely that none would have survived.

Like these early settlers, I believe it is important for self-published authors to work together. Besides writing, I have made it my goal to help authors as much as possible. We are encumbered with a stigma from those in the traditionally published world who perpetuate the notion that our work is not up to the same standard as the work coming out of publishing houses. In many cases, this is not a valid assertion. In some cases, unfortunately, it is true.

So how can we, as self-published authors, help each other? Here are some of the things that I try to do in my quest to pay it forward.

1) Share the lessons I’ve learned – I’m about to publish my third book. The experience of publishing the first book was one that was very daunting. I had no idea how to format my book for the Kindle and paperback platforms. I knew nothing about marketing. I just wasn’t sure what to expect. I read some books (by self-published authors) on how to get started, but a lot of the things that I tried were done on a trial and error basis. I made note of what worked and what didn’t. When it came time to publish my second book, I used some of the techniques that I picked up publishing the first one and it was a much smoother process. I felt like I wanted to share this information with other authors. That is the reason I changed this blog into a weekly post that seeks to help others with their writing and publishing. Starting a blog like this is simple. I highly recommend that other authors do this and occasionally share tips so that we can all improve the craft that we obviously love.

2) Read each other’s work – It is important to read the work of other self-published authors. The first self-published author that I read was Hugh Howey. For those of you that have been under a rock in the self-publishing world, Hugh Howey is the extremely successful standard model for self-published authors. He has made millions with his self-published works and, now that he has gained fame and respect, has doggedly refused to go the traditionally published route. While Hugh Howey is the standard, I make it a point to read work from other self-published authors. I have been pleasantly surprised in some cases and have offered advice in others. On the whole, I think that the assertion that self-published work is of a lower standard is greatly exaggerated.

3) Share your resources – There are certain tasks, as self-published authors, that we should concentrate on. Editing, marketing, cover design, etc. are just a few of the common tasks that we all must undertake to ensure the quality of our work. Everyone has different approaches to these things. Some work very well, and others have mixed success. Let’s share our techniques and tools that we use to handle these tasks. We can all benefit. If you have a great cover designer, for instance, there is no benefit to you to keep their identity and talent a secret. Share their name with other authors. Your cover designer will appreciate the work and the growth in reputation and fellow authors will benefit through having nicely designed covers. This same principle is true for sharing editors, beta readers, and outsourced marketing. I now have all of these things that are traditionally provided by publishing houses in place, and I am more than happy to share with other authors.

4) Make friends with as many authors as possible – Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are excellent forums for you to make friends with your fellow self-published authors. You should trade reviews with them, share tips, and promote their work and interviews through your own social media network. Your readers will thank you for introducing them to other work that they may enjoy and you will all benefit from the combined strength of your networks. There are those short-sighted individuals that will yield their limited power and seek to trash your work. It’s just part of human nature. Like bitter movie or restaurant critics, those who disparage your work are just reflecting their own failures in many cases. The trick is to parse their criticism looking for things that you can act on to improve your work. If you find nothing, then acknowledge the uselessness of their critique and move on. Never, ever respond to a negative critique publicly. All this will do is give validation to the negative review and will make you look defensive.

5) Help other authors one-on-one – I recently had the pleasure of returning to my hometown. I had the chance to meet with one of my fellow high-school graduates who is also a self-published author. We traded some tips and agreed to read each others books. It was very enjoyable for me to discuss the things I had gone through face-to-face with someone with common experiences. Additionally, I am participating in my first group author event in April. It will involve networking and book signing. I have received a great deal of help from other authors that have gone through these events before in terms of what I need and how I need to prepare.

The bottom line is, we are all in this together. To use a sports analogy, when Michael Jordan played basketball, his presence on the team raised the game of all of his teammates. He wasn’t selfish in using his talent to help others improve their game. We have people like Hugh Howey who can be compared to the Michael Jordan of self-publishing. He is very willing to share his information and help us all raise our game. We should also seek to share our good information. There are plenty of readers willing to consume our work, so we should seek to provide them with the best quality product possible by working together.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome.

About Don Massenzio

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.

His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of what will be a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.

The second Frank Rozzani detective novel, Let Me Be Frank is now available.

Prior to finishing his books, his published work was comprised of short stories that will be merged into a collection in the near future.

Find out more about Don at his web site:

65 thoughts on “Self-Publishing – Your Fellow Authors are not Your Enemies – Let’s Help Each Other

  1. What a great blog topic! I released my first novel last week, Antonio’s Glove. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic editor who put me in touch with a en equally good cover designer. The whole world of social networking is new to me, but I created a blog, with much less informative posts than yours, Definitely taking your advice. Thanks again!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Pukah Works and commented:
    Words of a wise man. Though some of us have a bit harder time implementing many of these suggestions than others, each of the points Don raises are thoughts to think over and try to work into your own methods.

    Thanks Don for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s easy to see other self-pub writers as competition, but I agree with you. As a reader, if I find two books that I like the look of I’ll purchase them both, not choose between them. When your average ebook only costs a couple of pounds/dollars why not? So the idea of it being competitive is somewhat misplaced.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Working together benefits everyone. I’m part of several groups and loops and an author co-op. I always learn something for other writers and hope I have information that is helpful to them. Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I couldn’t agree more with you! As self-publishing authors we are the little guys and we need to stick together not fight each other. Networking almost always increases your footprint. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Great blog – I’ve just self-published my second novel, and would never have got this far without the support of my other 3 collaborators (we call ourselves New Romantics 4). Also member of brilliant Workshop group, and other organizations. Every word of Don’s blog is true.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Glad to see this article. I think it’s so important to support each other in our writing communities. While I haven’t been active much in the full-length world, I’ve been a participant in online groups for short stories and I owe so much to those who’ve helped me through the years. Many have gone on to self-publish and have been very successful. I’ve watched the career of friend Robert Swartwood who is always out there with something new and who has always been such a great supporter. He’s a good one to learn from if you’re new to this world. Anyway, Don, I appreciate this post and will begin to follow you because I need to learn more about full-length work and those who do it well, self-published and indy published. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I love networking with other indie authors. My first book signing was with a woman who graduated from the same high school as me. I have a few other author friends who are farther down the road than I, and they’ve become wonderful mentors. Most readers won’t read only a single book per year. They need lots of books, so it behooves us to work together to bring them what they want!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have had a great experience with a small group Author Critic Circle. With only 4-6 of us we can meet for an hour usually and give a decent review of the 10-15 max pages (double spaced!), hand in the pages with marks, and discuss the writing. Its like an editor/proofreader group. Sometimes you get beat up but its because the writing quality deserved it.
    I benefit from this more than anything else I am involved with in terms of improving my writing and getting the work ready for publishing. YMMV and I have heard bad stories of groups that just deliver one-star beat downs… I don’t know why people would stay in those groups. SO this would have to be a small core so your work is regularly up, and have the concept of HELPing you towards publishing your WIP not just criticizing to sound intelligent.
    I can imagine online ways to do this too, but mine meets in a bookstore every 1st and 3rd Weds PM. I’m prepping my next 1/2 chapter to send right now, in fact.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. One other aspect that could be somewhat organized out of this is a mutual support pact. With a handful of Self-Pub authors or more, form up a gang to do “referral business” activities and get some buzz going for each other.
    Write reviews on their book’s Amazon page, and for the back-covers of each others work. 4 and 5 star reviews are amazon gold.
    Then copy that URL atop their amazon book’s page and paste it into Facebook to share the message that your author buddy’s new book is out, and encourage your circle of influence to go buy it! Same with promoting THEIR YouTube video trailer and all the rest of their link-able stuff. Pass them on and wait for your turn.
    If you get a good community doing this could it help each other rise the ranks and get some viral buzz action going?

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Wonderful Blog Don. I would love to interview you for my Publishing Business. I help those not savvy on the computer to format books as well as connect them with Editors, Book Cover Designers and in some instances Beta Readers. We have helped six authors so far with more our books. All Indie authors, some with several books.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: SELF-PUBLISHING IS NOT A CONTACT SPORT | Ruckerpedia

  13. Great blog post! I’ve been interested in the idea of self-publishing for a while now and am currently trying to learn as much as possible–very informative! As a self-published author yourself, did you hire a professional editor?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m just in the process of publishing and promoting my first book and I have to be honest: I’m overwhelmed with the support I’m having from my little community of fellow authors.
    Yes, we sometimes feel the indie market is getting saturated, but in fact there is space anough for eveyone and offering our help and support can only expand our reach and so our possibility to make it.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I will bend over backward to help fellow authors, but I have one requirement: they must put in the effort.

    Indie publishing is being crippled from within more so than from mainstream publishing. The problem is the flood of ‘books’ that are poorly crafted, shorter than their format suggests (49 pages do not constitute a novel), and praised by obviously fake reviews (you can tell when the poor language and writing style of the reviews match that of the author). Worse, if we dare offer an honest critique they become defensive and accuse us of everything from bullying to jealousy.

    Conversely, when we help deserving authors it must also be honest, whether offering advice or criticism. Exchanging false reviews doesn’t help anyone. It makes the reviewer look bad and the author being reviewed end up not growing and improving. If you don’t want to post a negative review, don’t, but if they truly want to be a writer they need to be willing to at least accept private criticism. If not, they are not worth my time.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you for this article.
    I agree with your points. I read and buy self published books because I know how hard it is to get a following. I’d rather write than promote myself and I’m sure other writers feel the same. So, if I find a great book, I always write a review. I do have a problem with badly formatted titles at kindle. As far as competition from other writers, we all have our own style and promoting good work from fellow writers will only increase your name recognition.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I feel pretty lucky to have met other wonderful writers, and to be honest, it’s from them that I receive the most help and support. I love the writing community and everything about it. Much good cheer out here and people helping people. Excellent points, Don, and great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great blog post Don. I totally agree with your point about authors supporting each other. I have read so many great novels that I hadn’t come across before and met some wonderful indie authors. They in turn are a fabulous support for my work. Reblogged on

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Friday Roundup | Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

  20. Excellent advice Don. I will soon be joining the self-published authors club with the release of my first YA novel later this summer. With this in mind, I set up a group on Facebook for authors and bloggers to help support each other: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club. The group is doing well generating members (over 100 and counting!) who share helpful tips on a regular basis. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you,Marje. Congratulations on your novel. Setting up a group like that is a great way to network and learn from those of us that have been there. Groups like that really helped me when I was starting out.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. A great article! I published my first book, Babe Driven, a few years ago and have written 4 more books so far. I post articles on my blog to try and help authors who are starting out and love to hear about their writing journey. I have met so many supportive writers and readers and together we grow stronger.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: Self-Publishing – Your Fellow Authors are not Your Enemies – Let’s Help Each Other — Author Don Massenzio | Author S. L. Danielson

  23. I like this post a lot, Don. You are so right about writers supporting each other. I actually find the Indie community so supportive. And I do my best to support in buying and reading more books by indie authors, nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khaya, at first I viewed the community as competition, but not any longer. Some of the best books I’ve read in the past few years are from indie authors like Mark Dawson, Hugh Howey, C.S. Boyack, John Howell and Charles Yallowitz along with many others. There is good stuff out there.

      Liked by 1 person

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