A Cheerleader, Coach, Strategist and Faithful Friend. These are the 4 important people every writer needs in their life. If you are a serious writer, it's time to evaluate or build your team.
One of my author's is in the last stages of writing her newest book running against a quick-approaching deadline.
The good news is she has a publisher that is looking over the manuscript during the writing process and giving input. That, in today's world, is a rare commodity. I applaud the few publishers that still give this care and attention to their contracted manuscripts.
Unfortunately, the feedback has been strictly critique on what is wrong and where changes are needed with no encouragement on what is right. This type feedback can bring some writers to a grinding halt. At the least it produces discouragement.
But sometimes a complete lack of feedback is just as bad.
One of my first books was snatched up quickly by a publisher because of some celebrity names attached to the manuscript who I interviewed and wrote their stories. You can only imagine how completely frustrated I was when it became apparent my publisher had never completely read the manuscript. They had contracted my book for the celebrity sizzle, giving absolutely no instruction, care or insight into content.They abdicated their role refusing to be either a cheerleader, coach, strategist or friend.
However, you don't have find yourself in that same position if you build your "Gang of Four."
Here are the specifics and reason for each role.
This one is pretty obvious. This individual is available to listen to your frustrations, encourage your progress, and read your rough drafts. But most importantly they DO NOT critique. They are simply there to pat you on the back, hold your arms up when they are weary and encourage you to keep moving forward. They keep you up in the lonely process of writing.
Unlike the cheerleader, the Coach reads through the rough stuff to specifically give critique and overview sprinkled with encouragement. (If you fill this role for a writer, remember the "Oreo" method. If you give an critique that could be hard to swallow, also be sure to add the sugar in the middle with encouragement on something else done well.)
The Coach looks for technical areas in the manuscript. Is there a logical progression to the story? Have you proven your point? Are your characters believable? Do you have good transitions between points or plot? Do you keep the reader moving through and turning pages, or does it bog down? Coaches are necessary. Publishers used to fill this role, unfortunately not so much anymore. This role could also be filled in your writer' group, by your agent or a good editor.
Often overlooked when a team is built, this individual needs to be knowledgeable both in the topic area of your book as well as insightful in the area of marketing and promotion. Their gift allows them to read the manuscript to help birth ideas for input of relevant events or points you may have overlooked that can be added to broaden out the book. They also help brainstorm with you on ideas and insight in the area of possible endorsers, magazines, papers, or media that would welcome your story or other out-of-the-box ideas. These individuals are harder to find, but they are out there are more than likely you have one already in your circle of influence. Just look around.
The Faithful Friend
These individuals are willing to read segments or chapters where you need insight. They read willingly and are equal parts cheerleader and critic giving insight into sentences and stories that aren't clear or don't yet hit the mark. Because they are a faithful friend, they are usually willing to read for you at midnight or give insight after the fifth revision of the same chapter and do it lovingly and thoughtfully even when it may not be the news you want to hear. Why? Because they love you and want the book to be the best it can be as much as you do. They are jewels. Treasure them.
So who do you have in your corner?
Do you have all four essential members of your team? Or are you more lone ranger choosing to go it alone? If the latter I encourage you to look around you. Teamwork makes the dream work.
When others speak into us, iron can sharpen iron.