Ten reasons writers need writer friends

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Watching two friends recently — one selling his second book for big bucks, the other finally getting the contract for her first book —  I realized how much we rely on one another for advice, courage, insights, practical wisdom, ideas…
There are many reasons any ambitious writer of books needs a posse.
Here are ten:

You need to find an agent. Other writers know agents — and which ones might be a great fit for you.

You need to decide whether or not to fire your agent. Whatever s/he is doing that’s making you crazy, get a second opinion from someone who’s been through a few herself.

You’re trying to write a book proposal and need a second set of eyes from someone whose opinion you trust.

You’ve finished the manuscript and need a “first reader” who’ll be honest, helpful and diplomatic.

When the contract finally arrives, and it’s sitting there, in multiple copies of a thick, legally-binding document that can shape your future for years to come — they get it. You’re thrilled, but terrified.

They’ll know an experienced entertainment lawyer who can review the contract for TV or movie deals.

They’ll understand that a possible TV or film option is cool, but not life-changing until/unless the producers actually make a film or television show from your work. Other people will squeal with excitement and assume you can now rush out and buy a Porsche.

When you hit a wall and have no idea how to organize your material/find a researcher/fix that chapter/panic with self-doubt, they will know how this feels and find the right way to help you move past this obstacle. When my editor asked me to rewrite 10 (of 12!) chapters of “Malled”, my new memoir of working retail, I froze in fear until my good friend Scott said simply: “You’re the mechanic. Fix the engine.”

They’ll come to your book party and cheer, even if their book proposal didn’t sell, their novel is still in circulation or their last book got crummy reviews. It can, and does, happen to all of us. Which is why you go to theirs as well.

You attend any reading you can, to lend moral support and offer your pal a friendly face in what can be a very, very small group.

I love writing books, and hope to write and sell many more. But it’s a weird, tough industry and you need all the wise and understanding publishing veterans you can get!