‘Tis the Season for giving. As writers, all of us have gone or are presently going through the process of learning our craft. We can all remember our first painfully awkward steps on our path to publication. Along the way we have been the recipients of some great advice, encouragement and help with the process. Maybe we had a teacher who inspired us or encouraged our early attempts. For some, it came from our peers, other writers and editors who cheered our successes and gently pushed us back on track when we strayed.
By the time we published our first story, article, or novel, we have, hopefully, benefitted from a host of beta readers, editors and proofreaders whose contributions have enriched our works beyond measure. Most of us have taken the time to share with them our heartfelt thanks for that assistance.
But now, as the season approaches, let us think not about our gratitude but about how we can give back. What can we do to lend a hand to other upcoming writers and “pay it forward.”
There’s a lot that we can do. First, if you haven’t been a beta reader recently, consider offering someone you don’t know a read. Reach out and give them the benefit of whatever experience you might have. You don’t have to be a published writer to offer to read someone’s work and give them notes on what you liked or didn’t like, what drew you in or left you flat. After all, you’re a reader and readers will ultimately determine the success of their work.
Most professional editors would find it difficult or impossible to “donate” a novel edit, but there are dozens of writers struggling to learn the craft and get their work ready for market while juggling kids, a low-paying job, etc. Anyone who really wants to can find the time to work in an extra short story edit. Yes, that might be considered taking money out of your pocket, but I’ll bet that somewhere back down the line, an editor or exceptionally talented beta reader took the time to give you that extra bit of help.
Maybe you are a seasoned writer but pressed for time. Beta reading and editing can be quite time consuming. How about offering to proofread an edited manuscript or read and give an honest review of an advance copy.
For myself, I have volunteered to edit both short stories and novels outside of my paying clientele, and will continue to do so as I can. I have found that the rewards of doing a portion of my work as a volunteer, far outweigh any financial disadvantage which might accrue.
So, especially in this holiday season, consider giving a gift of your talent and experience.