Yes, people want to help you…

You writing a book is still a big deal for many people. I work in a library and when people hear that I am a writer I usually get one of two reactions:

a) you write books? What do you write? (Chance to self-promote!)

b) I’ve thought about writing a book (and then they tell you ALL about it.

But whichever reaction I get – they still think it’s cool.

The reason I mention this is because it may help you as a writer when you need to ask for help. Even with many many more people writing books these days – there are still plenty of people willing to support YOU in your writing journey.

Let me give you some examples:

My latest book is called Jesus and Me: One Child’s Friendship with the Son of God. It’s set in first century Israel, a time I’ve studied with interest over the years but I’m no expert.

I didn’t really know anyone who could help me check historical and cultural facts so I found an emailed a new testament professor in Australia (I am in the UK!) and he agreed to look over the manuscript for errors. He even said he liked the stories!

So, to be clear, a man I had never spoken to agreed to give up his time to help me. Why? Well, he obviously had the heart to help and I appreciate it. But also, I made it interesting for him. As a new testament professor I suggested he might enjoy the stories and pointing out my errors (which would use his expertise). There was something in it for him AND I offered to thank him in the front of the book.

A few years back I was writing The Granny JJ Adventures. Not only was this set overseas in Guyana, South America it was also written in local Guyanese Creole.

My wife speaks Creole and she helped me a lot but she had been out of the country for years. So where was I going to get the help?

I asked a friend from Trinidad if she knew any Guyanese and to cut a long story short I linked up with some ambitious people from Guyana who were happy to help someone else reach for the sky. These people did not know me either.

If you want a more extreme example of asking for help, how about a President? I arranged for a copy of The Granny JJ ADventures to be handed into Parliament in Guyana with a note for the President of Guyana. Well, it took months to get a response but we eventually got a letter saying he had read it.

Furthermore, he was passing the book onto the education department and as of writing, we are waiting on a deal to sell many many copies to the school system over there.

Am I special? No. I didn’t sell a decent amount of books until my ninth book.

Am I bold? Heck, yes.

Ask and (often) you shall receive.

My tip – find a way to make it advantageous for them to help you. With the Guyanese, it was the desire to see their country represented to their children in their own language that made it easy for them to want to help; with the Professor it was the chance to use his knowledge to help advance a subject of value to him.

You won’t always get a yes. But I am so much bolder in asking for help now. Currently, I am approaching major Christian authors for reviews of my new book. I am hoping that as fellow writers they will want to help give me a hand up.

So, those are my thoughts for today. What has your experience been?

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