Should Writers Support Other Writers?

Here’s a question for all the writers out there that I think of frequently.  It typically comes to mind as I read online forums for writers where beginners post questions asking for suggestions of books that are helpful to read about publishing, book writing, freelance writing, and so on.  I’m constantly surprised by how many writers respond to those questions by recommending that people not invest in books about writing and building a writing business, but rather they should just look in their local library for comparable information instead of paying for new books.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for saving money, but here is the question that always pops into my mind when I see this suggestion:

Shouldn’t writers support other writers?

I’m not suggesting that writers never use the library, never search for information online for free, and instead head over to Amazon and purchase every book and publication ever printed.  Although I’m sure I’ll get comments on this post saying that I’m suggesting every extreme scenario one can think of, that’s not my point at all.

My point is this — if writers can’t even support each other by purchasing books, magazines, newspapers, and other publications that we’re interested in, then why should anyone else?  Writers are having trouble finding assignments that pay reasonable amounts, yet the first thing I see suggested so often when a writer asks for books to help them get started is, “don’t pay for them – get them at the library or buy used on eBay or find a site to download it for free.”

Am I the only writer who is surprised that other writers advise people who are asking for book suggestions that they should not buy books but rather find any other possible way to get those books than actually purchasing them first-hand?

What do you think?  Of all people, shouldn’t writers support other writers rather than suggest that people find other ways to get the same information without having to pay full price for it — particularly in response to requests for book or publication recommendations?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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5 responses
  1. Kate Pesich Avatar

    I support other writers by downloading things on my Kindle often. While I can’t buy everything, I know that if I ever intend to make money in my craft there has to be a market for it.

  2. becky Avatar

    I love to buy writing books. If I’m unsure if it’s a good fit for my collection, I might check it out of the library first. But when I find it has information I’ll refer back to over & over, it goes on the ‘to buy’ list.

  3. Mike | Avatar

    Hi Susan,

    I think the number of books that I need to look at during the course of my writing career far surpasses what the average reader (non-writer) needs to look at. So, I’m all for saving dollars at a time rather than buying everything. Writers don’t make enough to spend heaps on research material. If I was writing for an oil company, it’d be different. As it is, my income doesn’t cut it!

  4. Meg Avatar

    I think it’s unrealistic. Most of us don’t make enough money to do anything but use the library and/or buy used (abebooks is my friend). I wish it was different, but, frankly, other authors are not the way most authors are going to make a living.

  5. Michael Avatar

    I am asked for suggestions all the time. I usually just provide a list of titles. It’s that person’s choice where and how he or she obtains the books.

    Do I think writers should support other writers? Yes. Do I think we should all buy these books “first-hand”? No.

    I usually do things the same way Becky does: I check out a book from the library and, if I like it, I mean really like it, I’ll put it on my buy list. Why rush out and spend money on a title you may not like? You end up giving that book away or selling it; then the cycle starts all over.

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