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Writing and publishing is all about teamwork

Iain Broome
Iain Broome
4 min read

Stephanie Thwaites, children’s agent at Curtis Brown in the UK, published a lovely post about rejection this week on her blog.
It begins:

It’s all about rejection. No, not online dating, but publishing: according to an editor I was chatting to last week, it’s an industry of rejection.

Personally, I’m a little tired of all the negativity around publishing. I think it’s time we all pulled together and tried to do things differently and push things forward. So I confess to letting out a gentle sigh when I read that first paragraph.

But I needn’t have worried, because Stephanie’s post isn’t really about rejection at all. Instead, it’s a great reminder that, for every book that gets published, there is a team of hardcore fans behind it, willing it on and making it happen.

Assembling the troops

I wrote on this blog a couple of years ago about writers needing a crack team behind them, but I was referring to the writing process itself. Over the last couple of years my own team has expanded to include my agent, editor and a small circle of people who’ve helped A is for Angelica get to this point.

Now that my novel is published and out there, I’m seeing my team continue to grow and grow. In fact, the book has only been on the (virtual) shelves for a couple of weeks, and already it feels like it’s no longer mine. It belongs to anyone who reads it and, in particular, to those who enjoy it so much that they join the team and become advocates.

It’s funny, because I’ve said and read for years that every author needs their own platform. That could be a website, Facebook page or Twitter account. It probably means all three and more besides. It made sense before – create a platform, attract readers, sell them something – but now it really makes sense.

Promo by numbers

Many blogs about writing will tell you that it’s all about the numbers. How many posts have you read that show you how to get more readers, subscribers, followers and goodness knows what else? It’s loads, I know. I used to read them too.

Unfortunately, the numbers only get you so far. Having a ton of people follow you on Twitter is totally smashing, but how many people who follow you will go on to buy your book? More specifically, how many of them will tell their friends about it and, effectively, join your all-important team?

Having a load of people follow your website is totally smashing too, but having half the amount is also perfectly awesome. It’s not about the numbers, it’s about having a group of people who care about what you do and want to help you spread the word.

It’s about having a team. It’s all about the team. Team, team, team.

Why do I keep saying team?

Because that’s honestly what it feels like when people say nice thing and support your work. When the digital version of Angelica launched, I was genuinely blown away by the number of people who got in touch to say that they’d bought it, and who had told their friends to buy it too.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking millions of people. I have more than 2000 subscribers here and well over 3000 Twitter followers, but many of those people are not active. They don’t regularly engage with me or what I produce online. Thankfully, and this is the point, a smaller but significant number of them do.

On launch day, this group of wonderful souls became the latest members of my crack team. They bought, tweeted and told their friends about my novel. Many of them have now taken the time to read the book and have even left positive reviews on Amazon, Goodreads or other important review sites.

It really does feel like we’re a team. Like we’re all working together to promote the same thing – my lovely little book. It’s pretty overwhelming. I’m very grateful.

Building a team

As a writer, there is only so much that you can do. Whether you’re just getting started, in the thick of the editing process or, like me, trying to market and publicise your writing, you always need help from others.

Your team will start off small, maybe just you and your closest friends and family. Later, you might join a writing group and recruit a couple of new members there. Then an agent may come along, which will likely lead to an editor and various other publishing types who will read, love and get behind your work.

When the book hits the shelves, your team will open up and collect new members quickly. These people will, for the most part, be complete strangers. You’ll feel weird and vulnerable. But it will be amazing. You’ll love it.

People, not numbers

Writing and publishing are about lots of things and yes, that includes rejection. There are highs and lows. Sometimes you feel like you can conquer the world, sometimes you wonder why you ever bother.

But at the heart of everything is people. People who encourage your beginnings, people who keep you motivated, people who take a chance on you, and people who want to help you be successful. Teamwork is everything.

And teams are not made up of numbers. They are filled with real, tangible beings. Your teammates. Your advocates. Just people pulling together. Lovely, lovely people.

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I'm the author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Every week, I send Draft Mode, a newsletter full of tips and tools that help you improve your craft and promote your writing.

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