Learning To Ask For Help: The Importance Of Author Support Systems

I’m bad at asking for help. Between being a stubborn little goblin and a human trying to heal past traumas, I find it easier and less stressful to do things on my own. Until, of course, I can’t. Despite the job title of “self-published author” there are just some things that I cannot do all by myself. Learning to come to terms with that has not been easy, and I still struggle to ask for help, but I’m getting better. I think.

I’ve learned that there are three main groups of people you’ll want to get help from as a self-published author: family and friends, your writing community, and the professionals. Personally, there is a bit of overlap in some of these categories, but you can easily keep these three separate if that’s what works for you.

Friends and Family

For me, this has been the most important category. I am so, so fortunate to have a husband like Mark who believes in me and supports what I do. And hearing from other married self-published authors, they are of a similar mindset. We cannot do what we do without the emotional (and sometimes financial) support of out significant others. Mark even offers physical support in the form of helping me carry all of my stuff to in-person events and building me the best home office I could ever want.

As an added bonus, my husband falls under the category of “The Professionals” because of his experience in web development and the tech world. Not only did he put together my website (yes, this one), but he is my go-to guy for IT problems. That is, when I relinquish my stubbornness and allow him to help me.

I can’t provide a list of recommendations for this category because where you get your support will be dependent on who is important to you.

Your Writing Community

This is where we find another overlap. I’m lucky that one of my friends is a member of my writing community. If you guessed Trevor, you’re absolutely right. My podcast co-host does so much to help me with my writing that I don’t know if I will ever be able to repay him. Even if I beta read and offer feedback on everything he every writes, I still don’t think that will be enough. Taking that first big, scary leap and letting him read my work was the best decision I ever made. He has been pushing me to be the best writer I can be since day 1. I have Trevor to thank for a lot of my success and I suggest author find their own Trevor.

And it’s possible! There are fabulous and friendly writers out there. Since I started my self-publishing journey during the pandemic, my early attempts at joining writing communities were mostly online. But since attending my first Can*Con in October of 2023, I finally got the chance to meet other amazing writers in the flesh. As an autistic introvert, I find it hard to make and maintain friendships, so I’ll be the first to admit that this is an area that needs improvement, and I do need to make more of an effort to interact with my fellow writers. But I’ve taken steps towards that goal, and that’s enough for now.

If you haven’t already found your ideal writing community, here are some recommendations:

  • AutoCrit
  • Can*Con
  • Discord? (I don’t use Discord that much, but from what I’ve heard you can find fellow writers there)
  • ReedsyPrompts
  • Social Media (whatever platform you’re most comfortable with)

The Professionals

This one is absolutely essential if you’re a self-published author. I can do many things on my own, but I will always spend the money on a good editor and cover artist. And yes, you’re not so much asking for help as paying for a service, but sometimes there can be an overlap here as well. One of my best friends, Emily, did the cover of They See Me and will be doing the cover of Skull Daddy! I have also enlisted my grandmother to help with extra rounds of edits on a few small projects because she has a very good understanding of grammar and punctuation. And my sister – a professional social media manager – has given me marketing advice.

So if you know someone who can offer you a professional service, ask them for help! And if not, here are some strangers on the internet you can look into:

  • AutoCrit
  • LinkedIn (Although I don’t use it personally, I’ve heard some people hire their professional help here)
  • Pub-Craft
  • Reedsy
  • Social Media (again, there are strangers out there who can help)

So I hope you all found this helpful. And if anyone would like to keep the conversation going, feel free to share your recommendations.

Best of luck with your writing!

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