In Support of Support
The various groups to which we belong can be considered, in today’s vernacular, “support groups.” In our writers’ group—our local chapter of RWA Land of Enchantment Romance Authors—we receive education, information, and encouragement individually and as a group, as well as the opportunity to extend these benefits to others. In this way, group affiliation illustrates the axiom, “What goes around, comes around.”
In her book Truth or Dare, Starhawk (Miriam Simos, Harper San Francisco, 1987) says “What a group does, says, believes, and how it makes decisions determine the way people within a group will interact.” In LERA we have an opportunity to share our individual progress and/or successes at every meeting, we add these successes to our monthly newsletter Lyrics, and we list our published authors—complete with photos and cover illustrations—annually in Lyrics. This creates a sense of accomplishment for the chapter as a whole as we celebrate each others successes. As each member shines in the greater community, the group also benefits.
Though LERA’s writers are not all writing romance, the writers who continue to write, to publish and develop a personal style all learn about writing from chapter meetings and publications, and benefit from the mutual support of the organization, including individual members. A close bond of friendship, even a feeling of “family”, has been created over the years.
Because we espouse the romance genre in particular, we are perhaps familiar with the earlier misunderstandings and prejudices that accompanied the romance genre. As we all know, romance is now the most popular genre in the world accounting for over 60% of the literary market. Dealing with these past stigmas and challenges, however, has made us more understanding of the challenges of other genres. LERA members are active in all sub-genres of romance including short stories and erotica, as well as non-fiction books and articles, mystery, e-books, screenplays, children’s books, and poetry.
Part of a writing career includes the challenge of marketing, so being a member of a strong writing organization such as RWA and a local chapter is an advantage, if not a necessity. Not only do we learn the skills of promotion and marketing to aid in our own writing careers, we give each other the support to meet difficult challenges at every stage of the writing process. We routinely offer speakers presenting topics related to writing and romance monthly, we present annual or biannual conferences, set up critique groups, attend each others books signings, encourage all members to share at meetings, and even attend book fairs as a group whenever possible, doing community outreach and pooling of our marketing resources.
When an author submits a manuscript to a publisher, listing membership in writing organizations carries a good deal of favorable weight. The reason, of course, is that the publisher expects the truism “what goes around, comes around” to come into play. The groups are excellent resources for promotion and marketing. As we support our fellow authors by buying their books, it’s not “selfish” to expect, in turn, this kind of support from our fellow writers. Simply put, if we purchase their books, they will purchase ours.
When we’re supportive of each other during the developmental stages of our writing careers, what better reward than hearing positive feedback from other RWA and LERA members who have purchased, read and enjoyed our books? It would be delicious icing on the cake for them to write a positive review and recommend us to their friends and colleagues. This concept of “turn about is fair play” can be a positive attitude and will work if we all participate in it to the best of our ability.
Romance is usually published in paperback or softcover and now quite often as an electronic download or CD from a web based publisher. The cost is comparable to a glorified cup of coffee and a brownie at Starbucks, or a long-distance phone call to one of our out-of-state relatives. So the “price” of mutual support is not the issue; it’s a matter of support and encouragement to ourselves, our fellow authors, and our writing organization(s.)
We can’t afford to overlook the benefits of belonging to a writers’ group. As part of the value of the education and support we’ve received (and given) we consider it “insurance” to buy our fellow member’s books, confident that they will support us by buying our book(s) when our turn comes to be in the spotlight.
As we gain support through, by and for our writing group such as LERA, the group (as well as the individual member) stands a greater chance of sustainability. As our group supports its primary purpose of encouraging, educating and supporting authors, it will ensure its own continuation. Just as the group values and encourages the diversity of the individuals within it, they, in turn, support the group purpose. In this way the group continues to evolve, grow and improve as it moves into the future, insuring it’s own ability to empower its members, the group itself, and the universal art of the written word.
My article that appeared in Land of Enchantment Romance Authors local RWA chapter