Recently, TNM Publishing, LLC went to its first convention, SC Comicon in Greenville, SC. Overall, it was an amazing experience where we got to meet new faces and reunite with a couple old ones as well. Best of all, we hopefully made a few new fans.

A month later, I find myself reminiscing about one particular question that recurred: “I have a relative who wants to write, how can I support them?” That may not be how it was asked each time verbatim, but apart from “What’s this book about?” it was definitely the most common that came up. I think the most important thing anyone can do for a budding author is understand the difference between encouragement and support and know when to offer which.

What’s the difference? Every author gets down on their career from time to time. There is so much opposition in the writing world that making it in this business can be difficult. We’re an upstart publishing company, we still feel that pain with every penny we spin, hoping it will pay off. That’s when an author needs encouragement.

Before we continue, let me say this:

THE SINGLE MOST ENCOURAGING THING YOU CAN DO FOR AN AUTHOR IN YOUR LIFE IS READ THEIR WORK AND OFFER A COMPLIMENT.

I know, I know; that’s more than the, “You can do it kiddo!” that you were planning. If you genuinely care about the author in your life, however, it’s time well spent. Just knowing that someone has actually read your work is encouraging. SC Comicon was an amazing source of encouragement for TNM Publishing. Talking about our maiden novel to potential new fans and getting to interact with them was the best feeling an author/publisher can have. Each person that bought a copy of the book was a new person that would get to experience something TNM helped create and put out in the world. We hope they all enjoy it.

So what’s support? Support goes hand in hand with encouragement but it’s more than just reading the book or telling the writer in your life that they’re the bees knees. While it annoys me to no end at times, my brother is probably the most unexpected supporter in my writing career. He doesn’t donate money to it and he hasn’t even bought the company’s first book (though he really should; if you love the author in your life buy their book) but what he does do is help plan things. That’s the part that a lot of writers don’t get. There is an abundance of people who will buy a book just because they know the author or met the author at a convention (and they are incredibly wonderful, every last one of them) what there is not an abundance of is people who will point out the obstacles in a writer’s path and then help plan through them.

To give an example; I strongly wanted TNM’s first convention to be DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. My brother’s response was: “I’m sure that’d be great exposure, but it would be better exposure if you have tradeshow experience under your belt and know what you’re doing when you get there.” I didn’t like it at first, but he was right. That’s why ┬áthere was a TNM table at SC Comicon. I wanted to make sure that by the time we made it to the “big show” as a publishing company we had a fan base and were ready for what was to come. I didn’t want to make an overly eager move and then choke at the last minute. What if I forgot something important? What if I didn’t bring enough books (because we almost ran out at SC Comicon)? Because I had someone to help me see the road blocks and help me plan ways around them, I was able to make a better decision. That’s something every writer needs.

If I were to make it into a simple saying that you can post on Facebook or whatever your social media outlet of choice is; it would be this:

Encouragement is saying, “You can do it!” while support is saying, “Let me help you figure out how!”

~May your sunsets be many and your battles be few.

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