Guest Post: Finding Your Writing Allies, by Randy Ingermanson

Don't forget to link your favorite writing article to this post. I'll be choosing some to put up as guest posts next week.
 Allies, by Randy Ingermanson
From Randy Ingermanson's fabulous newsletter. (if you haven't signed up yet, the info is at the bottom of the article)

There's an old saying, "Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate."

That may be true in some worlds, but in the world of writing, I'd replace it with this: "Books come and go, but Allies accumulate."

What are "Allies?"

Allies are your writing buddies. They are a combination of friend, colleague, mentor, encourager, and butt-kicker.

My opinion is that you won't get very far in the publishing world without Allies. The reason is simple.

Publishing is a tough industry, and the writer is the engine that drives the machine. If you don't have a support system, the machine is going to break you eventually. Your Allies are a crucial part of your support system.

Of course your support system also includes other people -- your editor, your agent, your family, and your non-writing friends.

But your editor and agent are business partners, and it's generally not their job to be your friend.

Whereas your family and non-writing friends can love you to pieces, but they generally don't really understand the wacko world of publishing.

If you don't have Allies, that's a problem, or it will be a problem eventually.

I should emphasize that Allies are not tools that you use or rungs on the ladder. They are, first of all, friends. Friends who'll be around for a long time.

But Allies are more than that. You will have plenty of writing friends who will never be Allies. Allies are also your equals or nearly your equals. They're usually at roughly the same level of success you are – at least when they become your Ally.

It may happen that your career takes off and your Ally's doesn't, or vice versa. It's quite possible to maintain your alliance for a very long time when that happens, as long as you're both good with it. Of course, jealousy or snobbery can kill an alliance
pretty quickly, but that's true of any friendship.

An Ally can also start out as your mentor, or vice versa, but if it's a real alliance, then that relationship will grow into something more symmetric, in which each of you mentors the other in some way.

The main reason you need Allies and the main reason they need you is that you both need encouragement from time to time, and you both need to be confronted from
time to time. Encouragement is for when you know you have a problem. Confrontation is for when you don't.

Who are your Allies? Do you even have Allies yet? If you haven't been writing long, then you may not have any. Or you may have only a few. Don't panic. You'll find your natural Allies as you progress in your career.

Allies start out as writing friends, but friendship is not enough to form an alliance. Some friends may grow into Allies. Others may always remain just friends.
That's normal. You will always have more friends than Allies.

When a friendship turns into a professional mutual dependence, then you have an alliance. Not until.

How many Allies do you need to get along in life? I don't know. I'm pretty certain that you need at least one. I doubt that you could possibly keep up with more than a couple of dozen. So I'd guess that somewhere between three and ten are the normal number of Allies.

You can, of course, have hundreds of friends. Friends are good. The more, the better. There's no need to be picky about friends.

I think it makes good sense to be picky about your Allies. You'll be joined at the hip with your Allies for a long time. Ten years or twenty or thirty.

Choose them well. It really helps if they get along with each other, but that's probably not an absolute necessity.

There's no action item here. I don't recommend that you go out and start choosing Allies willy-nilly. But it makes sense for you to think about who your Allies are
(if you have them) and which of your friends might eventually become an Ally.

This is not something you can push. An alliance has to be good for both parties, or it's not an alliance. It'll happen or it won't happen, and the best you can
do is to be aware of it and guide it gently as it matures.

I think there's really only rule to live by with your Allies: Do the right thing by them and they'll do the right thing by you.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 26,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Do you have writing allies? Leave a comment and tell us where you found them.


  1. As a newbie to the writing world, I was thrilled to discover how supportive and friendly many writers are. I have received many virtual pats on the back from people whose blog I follow and who certainly stand to gain nothing from a newcomer like myself.

    I appreciated Randy's explanation of when encouragement is needed from allies versus confrontation. You need both to keep you in your lane, so to speak.

    I have several writing friends, but only one whom I'd consider an ally at this point. I look forward to making more of both.

    Thank you for this post! Enjoy the weekend.

  2. I agree, Janette--you don't always find articles telling how to deal with jealousy when a writing friend experiences success first. Glad you're accumulating both kinds of friends!


  3. Winderful advice! I have picked up some really snazzy allies since I've been writing and I love that we all get it. This biz is not an easy thing to understand from the outside so these allies are imerative. Thanks Randy for posting and Debbie for letting him:)

  4. So glad you've got some good ones. I used to wonder at the long lists of acknowledgments in books, but now I understand no one can go it alone.


  5. I never really thought of it that way, but it's true. By natural development, I've one ally I know I can count on. Perhaps soon there'll be more!

  6. It's great to think of yourself as an ally. And I'm sure a person as cool as you will amass a collection in no time!




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