Authors Crediting Authors: Help Your Fellow Writers

Thursday, December 22, 2016

As authors advance in their skill and understanding of social media and marketing, one of the things that seems to come curiously late for some is a question of credit—crediting authors, or each other, that is. At times, I’ve used the hashtag #creditwriters to try to help folks remember this simple courtesy. Help your fellow writers.

Journalists notice the problem right away. Why? Because we journos know that The New York Times has never written a word. CNN has never done an on-camera interview. NPR has never broadcast a report. In every case, that work was done by people, reporters. And yet you routinely see a story tweeted or posted to Facebook with just the medium’s name, right?

  • “Great story!” with a link and “via @WashingtonPost.” But who wrote it? You can find out if you’ll just check the byline.
  • “I got a super review from the @NYTimes!” No, you got a super review from a critic at The New York Times and that critic has a name. Just check the byline.
  • “Cool author blog post on outlining your novel!” By? Just check the byline.

But wait. What if there isn’t a byline on that author’s cool blog post about outlining your novel?

It turns out that this is a two-way street.

Writers fail to credit each other all the time, but just as frequently, authors aren’t thinking to put bylines on their own posts. And remember, if a visitor to your author website was linked to your post without any credit to you, that visitor may have no idea whose site he or she has landed on.

That’s why bylines are important. Here’s what I recommend:

  • On each blog post you write—yes, including on your own site—use your byline.
  • List not only your name but also your Twitter handle or your Facebook link—whatever social account you use the most. Like this: By Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson). Try to make every mention of your name work for you by linking it to a pertinent spot.
  • If you have guest posts on your site, follow the same pattern: always byline them and include a social media handle or link for them, too.

The point is to make it easy for your site’s visitors—who, we hope, will become your books’ readers—to be certain of who you are. And you want them to credit you and help others find you through social media. If they have to search for your handle or Pinterest account—or for your name on your own site (you’d be surprised how hard it is to locate that info on some sites)—then there’s little chance that your site’s visitors will have time to do anything about crediting you. A visitor impressed with your latest blog post is likelier to give you the courtesy of a credit if you make it a breeze to know who you are and how to reference you in social media.

Is it more blessed to credit than to be credited? Probably! But you’re likelier to be offered the same kindness if you make it simple for your colleagues to share your work with your name attached. And after all, if writers don’t credit each other, who will? Help your fellow writers. ‘Tis the season, and crediting authors is a good resolution to make for 2017.

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Porter Anderson

Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) BA, MA, MFA, is a journalist, speaker, and consultant specializing in book publishing. Formerly with CNN, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media, he is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, founded by the German Book Office New York, the magazine for the international publishing industry. With Jane Friedman, he produces The Hot Sheet publishing-industry newsletter, providing expert analysis and interpretation in a private subscriptionemail newsletter, expressly devised to give authors the news insights they need, free of agenda and bias. Anderson also writes the #MusicForWriters series on contemporary composers for Thought Catalog.