I can’t think of another industry where so many people go out of their way to help and give advice to other people in their profession. Whilst I’m happy to help those that ask, I have a terrible affliction…I want to help people even when they haven’t.
This often rears its ugly head when it comes to people I meet in the real world who have writing aspirations. I ignore the advice I would give myself: write in a way that works for me and to be selective of what advice I follow. Instead, I’m itching to dish out advice, be a sympathetic ear about rejection and try and tell people what they should do – whether they want me to or not. I think it’s because I’ve made so many mistakes that I want to help others avoid the same traps. Only I forget that you often need to feel your way into publishing on your own, seeking help when you need it and learning from your mistakes.
I’m currently sat on my hands trying not to give advice to one of my husband’s friends who has self-published a book. My husband told him to contact me if he needed help and he hasn’t taken him up on the offer. So, of course, I’m itching to contact him, even though I know it'd be meddlesome. The blurb of his novel is great and although it’s not in a genre I read, it sounds like a book I would like to read. I just think he’d get more sales with a new cover, as his current one screams non-fiction, and in my opinion, he has set his price too high. He’s going down the route of paid advertising, but I feel he’d be better off investing in a new cover and trying to get some bloggers to review his book first. I know I should keep out of it, after all the internet is awash with advice for authors on these topics, but it is killing me not pointing these observations out to him.
And it’s not only limited to people I know in real life; I sometimes want to give advice to virtual writing friends too. Sometimes in relation to book covers, others in terms of cringy social networking behaviour. I don’t give the advice, but I have to really stop myself.
It’s crazy. I’m still learning and I know I’m still making mistakes, so what makes me think I’ve got all the answers? In the end, what stops me from dishing out this unasked for advice is the thought of how patronising I’d find it if someone gave me advice out of the blue. Could you imagine? No, it’s much more fun to have things pointed out in an Amazon review by an anonymous reader, rather than a fellow author.
Do other writers have this compulsion to offer advice? Or is it just me?