Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Art of Having Someone's Back

If I were to take a poll, I'm willing to bet we all know at least one person who is "that" guy. The one who only pops up on reader forums or Twitter to say, "Buy my book!"

Don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with self-promoting. Indie authors must do it to survive, and even traditionally published authors should be able to promote and increase book sales. You've worked hard and you should be able to reap the benefits.

But . . . I guess what I'm asking is this: Is that ALL you do? Or do you also take joy in promoting the work of others? Is it all about you, you, you, or is it sometimes about [insert dramatic pause here] SOMEONE ELSE?

There is something . . . call it a necessary skill, call it a natural gift, call it a learned pattern of behavior . . . that benefits everyone at a cost to no one.

S.K. Anthony and her critique partner, Brandon Ax, call it "backhaving." If you're a backhaver, you know exactly what this means. It means being supportive. It means commenting on a blog. It means sharing someone's cover reveal. It means retweeting their links, or even hitting that +1 button to share without having to type a word. It means sharing something on Facebook, such as their book release or Amazon weekend sale. It means reading each other's work, whether it's a simple blog post or a full-blown manuscript. It means being a critique partner or beta reading. It means maybe even buying their book and reading it AND reviewing it.

Granted, no one person can do all those things all the time. And no one should feel pressured to try. But there is a line that begins to draw itself when a person is never, ever a backhaver.  Here are a few of the signs:
  • He "doesn't have time" to interact on forums, whether something like Goodreads or other give-and-take conversational places, for the sake of becoming part of the community
  • He only goes to the forums when it's time to self-promote
  • He doesn't visit blogs and therefore doesn't interact by commenting on them
  • He doesn't click the "share" button on Facebook to promote another's work or post
  • He doesn't give a shout-out or promote his editor or cover designer on writers' forums to help their businesses grow
  • He may post progress reports on a Facebook author page, but only to promote his own work
Is it any wonder that the not-a-backhaver doesn't understand why his book sales aren't through the roof?

Those of us who are backhavers can't imagine how anyone wouldn't be. Of course we share in the joy and successes of others, because we realize it doesn't hurt us to do so. It costs nothing to share someone else's post, promo, or announcement of something good. In fact, it gains you something: community, support, goodwill and more.

Being an independent anything is hard work, whether you own your own plumbing business, make jewelry, are a freelance artist/editor/photographer or whatever. Being a writer, whether self-published or traditionally published, is as much work as anything else when it comes to getting your name out there. Social media is a great tool that costs little to nothing, and is a very effective way to not only get your name out there, but keep it in the forefront of people's minds. It's a lot of work that sometimes pays off. And it's that "sometimes" that keeps us working at it.

I don't know about you, but the people I follow on Twitter, for example, are those who share a little bit of everything. There's the occasional personal tweet that may be funny or ironic, and a mixture of self-promotion and other-promotion. If a person constantly spews political hatred (on either side of the aisle), I unfollow. If a person posts their own books and nothing else, roughly four to five times per hour, all day, I unfollow. (And yes, there have been a few who tweet with that constant kind of bombardment.)

But the backhavers . . . ahh, the backhavers. I remember their names, because I see them when I visit from blog to blog, and on social media in general. They comment. They promote. They have guest posts on their own blogs.

They support. And that's why I know their names, and why I'll most likely buy their books AND read them AND review them.

You may have heard it said that we make the time for that which we deem important. On a related note, if your readers and fellow authors/editors/cover designers/small publishers see you only ever promoting yourself, they'll quickly come to the conclusion that you see only yourself as important—and if they're not important to you, there's no reason for them to support you.

Are YOU a backhaver? If not, it's never too late to start!

For those who have read all the way to the end: I'm working on a future post and need your help!
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Shoot me an email at
and tell me what it was and how it affected your writing.


  1. It's sad when you see someone appear only when it's time to promote a book.
    I've always tried to put the promotion of others first. I don't always do reviews (I'm a slow reader) but I will share and do shout-outs and tour stops. And buy my author friends' books.

    1. Alex, you're actually one of the people I was thinking of as I wrote this. It's always such a pleasure to see how many people you promote on a weekly basis, and as a result, they're happy to promote you and support you when the time comes.

  2. Hm. Let's see. I doubt I'd qualify as a "backhaver."

    Forgive me for the overuse of the word "rarely," but...

    I rarely do any self-promotion on my blog.

    I don't ask or expect anyone to promote me.

    I don't often promote anyone else's books or projects, either... but I have.

    I rarely review a book.

    I never do cover reveals.

    Only rarely have I written a guest post on someone else's blog.

    I have never had a guest post on my blog.

    On the other hand, I almost always comment on the posts that I read, and I have occasionally promoted someone's blog.

    Additionally -- and this is a biggie -- I created a REAL award, "The Silver Fox's Thrust Home Award," to bestow upon noteworthy blog posts. It is emphatically NOT one of those chain-letter awards where recipients have to jump through hoops AND pass the award along to multiple other recipients. (Details here.) And again, I very rarely give out this award.

    That last part has to count for something, dunnit?

    1. I think it counts! I smile every time I see you comment on my blog, and I know you visit other blogs. You also answer each person who comments on yours.

      The fact that you don't do "all" the stuff like cover reveals doesn't really factor in, because that's not the type of blog you have. And you aren't making your only appearances to brag yourself up, so I think you're doing just fine.

      You're a great support to people in the blogging world!

    2. Thanks for your compliments.

      It's true, I don't have what I call a "writers' blog," one that's geared to giving advice and/or just talking about the experiences entailing being a writer, although I follow several of them (like yours).

  3. Life is hard and some of us take loooong breaks and no having of any kind is had, lol. Still when we are here we should be helping each other and making sure that our community is strong because we all understand the struggle. #backhaving

    1. Long breaks are sometimes necessary, and I think most people understand that completely. I took a "short" break from blogging when my brand new day job exploded into long hours and lots o' responsibilities all at once—a short break that ended up turning into almost two years away from this.

      But you stated the main point nicely: when we are here, we should be helping. This is one of the best blogging communities and I'm so thankful I stumbled into this particular crowd of backhavers.

  4. So often I see bloggers storm their way through the blogosphere, leaving bland, "I clearly didn't read this post" type of comments everywhere, not buying anyone else's books, not sharing any info about any other authors, and then suddenly posting nonstop about their own work and expecting people to care.

    And then they don't sell a single book, and shortly after, they give up blogging.

    Is that karma? I feel like that's karma.

    For us, backhaving is a delicate balance. We know a lot of bloggers, so we don't want to spam our readers with nonstop covers and promotions to the point of them becoming meaningless. Plus, let's be honest, our readers don't come to us to see someone else's book cover. So we have to slip in backhaving in a creative manner, and when we do, we make sure to attach it to something we actually like. That way people can see (we hope, anyway) that whatever we promote is high quality. It's not just for the sake of doing it.

    We'd like to think that actually makes it effective. I think, anyway, that that beats a half-assed shout out just for the sake of being polite.

    1. That scenario is all too familiar, with the blogger (aka "quitter") giving up and blaming everyone else for the failure. Unfortunately, I know someone like that and it makes me grit my teeth.

      I like to share things I want to share, and I don't do things out of obligation. I don't get to visit as many blogs as I'd like to, and when I do, I don't always have something to say. I'm also not one to do every cover reveal or promo to death. However, if I like something, I share it, as you well know when I did the Tuck Watley review. You never even knew I was reading it, I'm sure (unless you're spying on me because you love being exactly that bored), but it was fun to do a review/promo of it because I just loved it.

      I do think there are certain blogs where people expect to see promotion, like the way Alex features a couple people's books, some music, and a movie or three. Others will do cover reveals for each other, or a blog hop, and again, I think the readers of those blogs expect it and are fine with it. It's all in the style of a particular blog.

      I think you do a great job of supporting a lot of bloggers by visiting and commenting, and when you do promote yourselves, people already know who you are and have probably decided ahead of time whether they're buying what you're selling.

      And you know, Ron Swanson said it best: Don't half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.

  5. Hi Lynda!
    I visited your blog...and then I was side-tracked and said to myself that I'd return another day to leave a comment.
    Then it slipped my mind...
    But I finally got here!

    I'm a staunch believer in "backhaving"!
    The Law of Cause and Effect states that whatever you send into the universe comes back to you.
    So always put out positive energy and amazing things will happen. That's my two cents.

    We rise by lifting others - I truly believe this.

    See you around on facebook! *waving*

    1. You're a GREAT backhaver! I think there is nothing to be gained by stepping on other people.

      I'm so glad you came back to comment! I know I'll be seeing you around in lots of places.

  6. I am a Avid Backhaver as you well know. Though I have been Slacking as of late on posting of any form, please make sure I am on everyone's list so when you post any type promotion etc. I can like/share/repost it. (ouch that sounded almost like self promotion but not quite) #ambackhaving

    1. That's how I knew you were truly absent and way too busy (probably when you were moving and having a life with new grandkids and stuff), because I didn't see you retweeting or sharing stuff to promote others.

      You're good to go!


I love comments, and will always answer them, partly because I like having the last word and partly because I just like getting to know the people who read my blog. (Note: if the post is more than a couple weeks old, your comment will automatically go into the "needs approval" folder, but I will still publish it and reply!)