Last week at the online Women in Publishing Summit, I learned a new term: Literary Citizenship. Jane Friedman, editor of The Hot Sheet and publishing industry expert, mentioned the concept during her presentation, “Changes in the Publishing Industry.” She defined it as “a community of people in the publishing industry who support each other.”
She said, “It’s not about competition, but collaboration. If I’m doing well, that’s going to help you, too, in the long term. We’re not playing a zero-sum game where we hoard resources and attention. There’s plenty to go around.” She encouraged everyone to find their community.
Thank goodness I found mine. I would have quit writing long ago if it hadn’t been for the North Georgia Chapter of the ACFW members’ steady encouragement.
After Friedman’s presentation, I Googled “Literary Citizenship” and discovered the term dates back at least to 2011. Cathy Day, a Ball State University professor of creative writing, observed that “what brings most people to the creative writing classroom or the writing conference isn’t simply the desire to ‘be a writer,’ but rather (or also) the desire to be a part of a literary community.”
I had to laugh because Day attributed her conclusion to the information she gleaned from reading her literary friends’ comments ON FACEBOOK! That was ten years ago!
“I wish more aspiring writers would contribute to, not just expect things from, that world they want so much to be a part of.”
– Cathy Day, 2011
Day went on to offer a few working principals of Literary Citizenship:
- Write notes to writers. Any time you read something you like, tell the author.
- Review books you like. Become a trusted filter (another spot-on term).
- Buy books and read them. Maintain a library in your home.
My suggestions for being a Literary Citizen include:
- Praying for each other.
- Commenting on each other’s social media posts.
- Subscribing to each other’s newsletters and blog posts.
- Offering to proofread short works, such as blogs.
- Serving on launch teams.
What do you think about the concept of Literary Citizenship? Do you have other ideas for how we can help each other?
Jill K Willis, a founding member of The Storyteller Squad, signed a contract Christmas Eve with Redemption Press to publish The Demons Among Us, a young adult speculative novel. The Demons Among Us won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest-YA Category last year and the SC Chapter of the ACFW’s First Page Novel Contest. The book releases in September 2021. Check out her website for more information.