Why you want to share your knowledge

Are you miserly with what you’ve learned, keeping all of your hard-earned wisdom to yourself?

Or do you share your knowledge widely and freely so that others might learn from your experiences?

I’m sure people can make a case for both, but I’m a believer in sharing widely and without concern for “What’s in it for me?”

Sharing is caring

Here are just a few good reasons for sharing what you know as an author:

  • It’s easy to do.
  • It will make you feel good.
  • It will make others feel good.
  • By demonstrating what you know, you’ll help develop essential author credentials.
  • It helps you build a platform.
  • Figuring out how to look helpful without actually being helpful takes too much thought and time.
  • Karma.

I’m sure you and I could both add more to this list. We might also agree that the “why you shouldn’t share” list is shorter.

Everybody loses when there’s no sharing

A few years ago, after admiring a friend and colleague’s skill with a specific publicity-generating tactic, I asked if she would write a guest post explaining how she did it.

She agreed to it immediately. We are friends, after all. Friends support friends.

The resulting article was heavy on why you needed to master this tactic and light – very light – on how to do it.

When I asked her to get more specific about how to do it, she balked. “Oh no,” she said. “That’s my little secret.”

So be it. I didn’t use the article because it wasn’t what we agreed on and wasn’t in line with my blog content.

Who won in that situation?

Not me. I had to write a replacement article – and quickly.

Not my readers. They would certainly have benefited from learning more about this topic.

Not the expert. In fact, she lost the most. She lost the time spent writing the article, and she lost the opportunity to introduce her skills to people who might have hired her.

What it looks like when you share your knowledge

One of the best examples of someone who shares freely without looking over her shoulder is Stephanie Chandler, founder of the Nonfiction Authors Association.

On the association’s “free reports for authors” page, Stephanie offers anyone – anyone – almost two dozen free content downloads. Each report has substance. Read just one or two of them, and you’ll think, “This information comes from an authoritative source.”

share your knowledge 2
Here are a few examples of the free reports offered by the Nonfiction Authors Association.

And that’s exactly the point.

You are sampling the association before joining.

It builds trust

Similarly, when you want to learn how to do something related to authorship, you probably Google the topic. Most of the time, you find at least some of what you need to learn – and you do it without spending a cent.

If you’re like most, you’re grateful to the person who taught you what you wanted to learn at no charge. You appreciate that person or company’s generosity.

That builds trust, and trust is valuable.

Authors being generous

Authors have a number of opportunities to be generous with what they know. They include:

  • Doing podcast interviews
  • Blogging on their websites
  • Sharing tips on social media
  • Offering sample chapters from their books
  • Speaking at conferences
  • Mentoring others
  • Contributing in online groups
  • Guest blogging

You might know that I recommend guest blogging as a way of connecting with your ideal readers. (Be sure to download my free “Guest Blogging Cheat Sheet.”)

When you write a guest post for someone else’s site, you’re introducing their audience to your knowledge and writing skill. That’s a win-win.

Still, an author-to-be in an online group argued against guest blogging as a form of book promotion, saying she’d never write anything “for free.”

From my perspective, you aren’t writing for free. It’s true that you aren’t paid in cash, but you’re rewarded with exposure to readers who might buy your book.

It’s an attitude

Mr. Rogers once famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ”

People who read what you write are always looking for helpers. You can be a helper – or not. You’ll do fine either way. You have to be true to yourself.

If you’ve never thought about how you might share some of your knowledge, I hope you’ll considerate it now.

You might find that such generosity brings rewards you wouldn’t have imagined or anticipated.

What’s one thing you can do this week to share what you know with someone else? Please tell us in a comment.

Subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter and get the free special report, “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources,” immediately!

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  1. This is a fantastic post oozing with positivity! I follow a similar mantra, and I’ve found it works a treat! I have made some brilliant connections in the publishing industry, and some enthusiastic fans who are keen to read my as-yet-unpublished novel. This pro-active and helpful strategy really does work.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Emma! I’m thrilled to learn that you embrace this and that it WORKS for you in so many ways. This is great news. : )


  2. I feel, and I’m sure you’ll call me out on this, that as a fiction writer I have neither the cachet nor the first-hand knowledge to share. But one thing I do have is my collection of tidbits that I’ve garnered from other people. I have been collecting these in a day book for a couple of years. The first one I ever wrote: “I am not very wise, just wise enough to squirrel away bits of other people’s wisdom.” I turn to this book for many reasons, inspiration when I’ve run out of it, or reminders about technique from brilliant people. I’ve even used it as a resource for plot or character development. I could share some of that, maybe on FB. Heck, I should publish it, except that it’s not my content. Anyway, thanks for your insights, Sandra, and your generosity!

    1. Here’s the thing with fiction, Karen…you know more than you give yourself credit for and therefore have lots to share. I love, love, love that you dedicated your latest book to your great grandparents, and I know there’s a story behind it that you can share with others in a way that will inspire. It’s historical fiction, so I’m sure you did period research — how did you do it? What worked? What didn’t? With novelists in general, SO MUCH THOUGHT goes into character names, settings, etc. Sharing why you made your decisions can instruct others. I could go on and on…it just takes a shift in your mindset.

      And yes, absolutely share those gems with others on social media. They inspire you, so they’ll certainly inspire others, too.



  3. I love this post! And not just because you used me as an example! Thank you for that. It is so important for authors to share their knowledge freely. I’ve had this discussion with many who think they should hold back their best content so people will hire them, but I find that giving away your best content brings new clients because people want to be guided. Thanks for another great article, Sandy!

    1. Thanks for being such an excellent “Exhibit A” for this topic, Stephanie, and for validating this concept. I agree that the rewards outweigh the risks, many times over. Keep up the great work!


  4. Thanks, Sandy, for a great post and for generously sharing your expertise.

    Sadly, many authors (and other professionals) don’t want to give anything for free–whether it’s a guest post, responding to a HARO query or supporting a colleague.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that those who are looking only for what’s in it for them are shooting themselves in the foot. I’ve experienced it a lot in the divorce professionals niche to my bitter disappointment.

    Regardless, helping others is not something you do in expectation of a reward–but know that it’s coming. It may not come from the person you helped, but Karma will return it multiplied from surprising sources.

    This week I will reach out to a women’s resource center to offer to host a book club featuring my book for disadvantaged women going through divorce.

    1. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Sonia. I agree with you that when it comes back, it might be from an unexpected place — and maybe that’s the best reason to do it. I LOVE your plan to host a book club meeting! What a great idea. I know you’ll enjoy it, and they’ll appreciate it.


  5. Thanks Sandy, Your post alsmost brought tears to my eyes as I had been on the fence about sharing some information with people I know. Your article was the kick in the pants I needed.

    When I started on my writing and publishing journey, one of my objectives was to learn how in order to pass the information along to others I know who have a story in them. I’m not as far along on that journey as I had hoped to be by now, but your article gives me a renewed focus.

    1. Aw, Jim, you made my day. I’m so glad this message “spoke” to you. Don’t you love when something appears right when you need it?


  6. I agree wholeheartedly and just want to add that sometimes sharing your knowledge consists of sharing your point of view, what you have learned from living, whether or not it accords with received wisdom.

    I happen to hold a number of convictions that differ from conventional advice in my field. I often do my best to argue the points when I see conventional advice that is harmful. My efforts are not always welcomed.

    I will never forget the time my long and carefully reasoned reply to a guest post claiming that everyone needed to blog was rejected as being “too negative.” The blog was run by three of my marketing colleagues, who were smart guys but not very tolerant of divergent views. Oh well. I published the post on my own website, and it’s still there. Their blog has disappeared into the ether.

    So don’t be discouraged if your efforts to share what you know meet a little resistance. It’s still worthwhile.

    1. What a great point, Marcia! It takes courage to keep speaking up but if you help just one person by doing that, you’ve made an important difference. I’m cheering you on!


  7. I spent many years attending Science Fiction/Fantasy (SF/F) Conventions (Cons, as we call them) and of all the SF/F writers I’ve met and known, to a person, were ALL very generous in sharing their knowledge, tidbits, and help. The only classification of writer/author I’ve dealt with personally (note that last word. I’m not talking about all of them) who seemed genuinely reluctant to share were those I would classify as ‘academic literati.’ Their attitude seemed to me to be one of “I worked hard for my knowledge, you have to do it, too.”

    Even if you don’t write SF/F, I strongly urge you to attend a local Con. They are great fun, and you’ll meet some great writers/authors, and perchance learn a thing or two.

    1. Now I’m intrigued, Lenora. I might just have to take your advice if an opportunity comes up! Interesting observation about the academic literati. I wonder if that comes with the academic territory — the environment where they work. Hmmm….


      1. Sandy, I don’t know if it’s the environment, or I just haven’t met very many of the literati set 😉

        If you have the opportunity to attend a Con, do so. And if possible, stay at the hotel. A lot of the really good information gets passed at night in the bar 😉 The writers are very open to talk with their ‘adoring public’. My girl friend and I spent several hours talking with David Brin one night. He not only asked our opinions, but liked and discussed our ideas.

  8. Excellent article and comments. Sometimes I wonder what I have to offer as a fiction author, but then I look back at my own journey and realize I’ve gleaned a lot along the way. And much of that came from others willing to share. I’ve learned that I’m much more likely to hire someone or buy their product if they’ve been freely offering advice all along. It lends a sincerity to their work. I know the help I provide to brand new authors is appreciated and it’s my way of paying it forward.

    1. Thanks, Jeanne! In addition to what I said to K.M. above, imagine how much someone like me, who has never written fiction, could learn from you if I decided to go down that path. Lots, right? I’m certain the people you continue to help are incredibly grateful. I love that you’re paying it forward.


  9. Great idea “Sharing Your Knowledge” Sandra. Yes, I believe in sharing knowledge and can’t wait until I feel safe in sharing. I’ve been studying 30 years and now can say, “I’m writing my story.” Just joined your group and feeling that I’m simply soaking in great info. I really like your website, its so bright and informative. I’m in the process of getting my website set up and trying to make a decision. Do you have any suggestions and advice?
    Thank you for all the information.
    Olga Oliver

  10. Completely agree with you Sandra. When first starting out I benefited greatly from fellow authors and writing professionals who freely shared a lot of information about the craft. They helped me understand a lot I had originally missed. Subsequently, after having published a couple of books, I decided I wanted to reciprocate and especially help those who were new to authoring. The end result is my current website and integrated blog which primarily contain articles and information regarding the indie author path. I sincerely hope what I share helps at least a few.

    1. What wonderful feedback, T.R. Thank you! I’m glad that many were generous with you and that you’re paying it forward. I’m sure that those you’re helping appreciate it — and perhaps they’ll do the same in the future.


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