If there’s one group of people that can help you with an issue you have with your book, it’s other writers. Other writers always seem to have been there and done that. Other writers have had the same difficulties you have had, and they’ve come out on top. All you need to do to get help from them is ask.
With a few exceptions, we’re a helpful community of people who are happy to provide other writers with the feedback and support that’s necessary in the Arts. Finding other writers is easier than you might think, too. When I was 16, Bebo launched its Bebo Authors section. In hindsight, it wasn’t great, but it did help introduce me to over a dozen authors in a group I founded, many of whom were my own age, and a few others who had more experience with writing, publishing and life in general.
The group unofficially disbanded a few years ago, but a few of us still keep in touch regularly. They were the first writers I knew who weren’t massively successful authors. It was some time later before I managed to get onto first name terms with some of them.
The point here is that anyone can set up a writing group. The reality is, you don’t even need to if you don’t want to. Twitter has thousands of writers active daily. So, too, do Facebook and Google+. You can find me on each of them. Through each site, I managed to find dozens of other writers who I’ve become friends with. One is a Canadian author who also publishes her own books online. Another is an Irish author who taught myself and a friend about writing synopses for books, using one her publishers hadn’t yet released as an example. I’ve met a Scot who gave me my first writing job, an English author who helped me along the path towards getting an article published in the magazine she wrote for, and dozens of authors from around the world with whom I worked on blog tours.
Every connection made was organic and real, and from day one there’s only been support going each way between each of us.
When you need help with something, then, it’s simply a matter of asking another writer, one that you’ve met online or at a local writing group. They don’t have to be published. They don’t have to be massively successful. They could just be a blogger, or someone with high hopes for publication. So long as they write, they have some experience that might come in handy. With that said, so do you. You can help other writers if they ask for advice. Look out for the questions writers ask online. You might surprise yourself that you have an answer.
What you ask is, obviously, dependant on what your specific problem is. How you ask it is up to you. Some tweet out a question. Others use (or, used to use, I’m not sure anymore) Google+ to help organise a Hangout – a free group video chat – to help find a solution to the problem. You can choose who you ask for help, more privately, too. All that aside, you can also ask an author whose work you read. In the hunt for approximate word counts of books for children and young adults, several authors stepped forward, including Barry Hutchison, Maureen Johnson and John Green. It really does help to ask.