Who’s on your team?
Why support is vital.
A quick glance at the acknowledgment section of a book usually reveals a list of people to whom the writer is indebted. In my case, it’s a very long one! Books are rarely written on their own. If we are lucky enough to be published, we have an agent, editor, copyeditor and proof-reader to scrutinise our words and give advice, all keen to improve the quality of our work. Most advice I’ve been given has been courteously offered – ultimately it’s up to me – but I’ve learned that most of the time industry professionals know best and I would rarely dream of questioning their judgement.
Even in fiction we need to be accurate in our factual data. I know nothing about science, music or medicine although my current novel seems to want to refer to all three! Consequently I’ve enlisted the help of a retired chemist, an opera singer, and a young doctor to advise me, and I’m very grateful for their input. My experience has been that most people are happy to help, and I’ve promised (threatened?) a listing in my acknowledgements in return.
On a more personal level, the dedication at the beginning of a book often reveals the names of friends or family who have provided additional support. My debut novel, The Oceans between us, is dedicated to my husband, chief cheerleader and morale booster, and to the memory of my father who first believed I could write. I was touched to read the story of horror writer Stephen King, who, when offered a job for more money was cautioned against accepting it by his wife who knew it would deny him any writing time. She would rather the family carried on in poverty than see her husband relinquish his dream of completing a novel. Thank goodness she did, as he’s currently the nineteenth most successful writer of all time.
So cheers to the cheerleaders. Whatever would we do without them?