How To Cope With Feeling Unsupported as a Writer

Written by Chantelle Atkins | September 22, 2016

When I released my first novel in 2013, through an independent publishing platform, I naively expected my family and friends to buy it in droves, share it with all of their friends and loved ones, write reviews, and encourage others to do the same. I soon realized how mistaken I was, and got on with the daunting task of learning how to market my book myself. I have to admit though, it still hurt when my expectations fell flat. At first, I thought this phenomena was unique to me and my books. I couldn’t understand why my family and friends were not all rushing out to read and review the books I had put so much heart and soul into.

Over the last few years I have realized that I am not alone. In fact, second to trying to secure reviews, feeling unsupported by loved ones is the most common complaint I hear from fellow indie authors. I’ve come across some truly fantastic authors throughout my journey. I’m an avid reader and reviewer of indie books, and it never fails to shock me how neglected some of them feel. I know too many who have never managed to convince family and friends to read their books. They can’t even get their loved ones to ‘like’ their author page, or share links to their books.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to other authors and thinking about this issue, and below you will find my conclusions and my tips to cope, if this is an issue you are familiar with.

Don’t take it personally. I know, this is easier said than done, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t take it personally when books I gave to family members were never read. But try not to. In most circumstances, I do not believe that the receiver of the book is deliberately trying to upset you by not reading the gift. There may be many, many reasons why the book has not been read and I guess the only way you will ever find out for sure is by asking them.

You may not write in their genre. We all have our preferred genres. Even avid readers who claim they read anything and everything, have their favorite style, narrative perspective and so on. If you’ve written a gruesome crime thriller, and your sister only ever reads gentle romances, then the chances are she’s going to feel very uncomfortable reading your book. And if they do come out of their comfort zone and try a genre they are not familiar with, then are they really going to be a reliable source of opinion on whether it’s any good or not? My advice? If they only read certain books and yours does not fit, then don’t push it on them.

They could be afraid of offending you. I truly think this is one of the main reasons friends and family avoid books written by loved ones. Unless they have come across your writing before, and know you are terrific, how are they supposed to know they will enjoy your book and style? They may be genuinely worried about upsetting you, should you wish to know what they really think of your book. They may feel anxious, trying to decide if lying or telling the truth is the best course of action. This could be the simple reason why friends and family avoid your books. They just don’t know if you’re any good and don’t want to be put in an awkward position.

Jealousy. As ugly as it sounds, I think jealousy may sometimes be the reason loved ones neglect to support a writer in their midst. Perhaps they once dreamed of writing a book. Perhaps they have a story they have never found the time to tell. Perhaps they wish they could write, but know that they can’t. Perhaps they are resentful of you living your dream, doing something you are passionate about. They may have an unsatisfying and unrewarding job. They may feel stuck and frustrated. There are many reasons why envy could be putting them off supporting you. Try to be understanding.

Maybe you don’t support them! I had to ask myself this a few times when I felt hurt that another book release had been ignored, and another book I’d gifted had not been read. Was I supporting this person in their life? Was I supportive of their work? Did I pay any attention whatsoever to their job, or to their hobbies? It’s worth asking yourself this if you feel a person close to you has not shown any interest in your writing. It does work both ways!

They might not take it seriously. I think this is another common reason why people ignore the writer in their circle. Okay, to you, writing is your life. It’s your passion, your dream, your everything. It’s all you ever think about and talk about. But to other people it’s a frivolity, a daydream, a whim. It might be that they think you’re going to quit at some point and dive into another crazy scheme. It might be that they accept it’s your passion, but it just doesn’t get them excited. Again, are you excited about their passions? Maybe not. So if they don’t take writing seriously, let them off the hook. It can’t possibly mean to everyone what it means to you.

Some people don’t read. I know, weird right? I still can’t get my head around this strange fact, but a fact it is. Some people don’t read. Not at all. Ever. Just like I don’t watch sports. At all. Ever. You see? We are all different. We all like different things. To a writer, reading is everything. Reading is why you want to write. To other people, it’s just boring. If you have non-readers in your life, then don’t waste your time pushing them to read your book. Mention it in passing and then let it go. The same applies to people who read, but not often. It may take them a really long time to get around to your book!

Don’t nag them. I know, it’s hard. You’ve shared your book all over Facebook, and you know they must have seen some of those posts! You’ve copy and pasted numerous glowing reviews. How could they have ignored them too? You’ve mentioned your steady sales and dropped your achievements into various conversations. You may even have bought people a copy of your book for their birthday or for Christmas. That’s a nice thing do to, isn’t it? Well, I’m not too sure anymore. I think it sort of puts them on the spot. I think it’s best not to push your book onto these reluctant supporters. Don’t nag and berate them for not reading or not leaving a review. Don’t expect them to become your fan club. They’re not. You’ve got to do that by yourself!

Support from strangers means more.
Think about it. Your mother reads your book and excitedly claims it’s the best thing she has ever read! Hmm, well, she would say that, wouldn’t she? Your best friend has also read it, and again, she can’t believe how good it is. Lovely, but is it reliable? Support from strangers actually means more if you think about it. They don’t have to read your book. They choose to because it appeals to them. They don’t have to review your book, but again, they choose to because they enjoyed it and want others to enjoy it too. They don’t know you, so they don’t have to keep on your good side or encourage you when you feel like quitting. It’s no skin off their nose. They’re going to be honest, whether it hurts or not. These are the people you should really be listening to!

You can get away with murder. If your friends and family are not reading your writing, then you can get away with writing about them, or using things they’ve done and said. You can base characters on them and use real life events, and they will never know! Just think about all that extra material!

If all else fails, prove them wrong!
Sometimes feeling unsupported or ignored can actually inspire us to work harder. So, your friends and family are not impressed that you published a book? Then write another one. An even better one. So, they pay no attention to your wonderful reviews, and never question you about your achievements? Try even harder. Work even harder. Take that feeling of disquiet and rejection and turn it into something useful, something that can help you. I’m sure the doubters, the pessimists, the envious and the unimpressed will one day have to admit they were wrong.

In conclusion, I think us indie authors need to stop bullying our loved ones when it comes to our books. By all means, spread the word and let them know what you are doing. If they don’t respond, then leave it at that. There could be many reasons why they’re not supporting you the way you would like. If you think they would enjoy your book, then yes, give them a copy, why not? But don’t pester them to spread the word or leave glowing reviews. Just get on with what you do best. Writing.


Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to both reading and music, and is on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her books include The Mess Of Me, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, This Is Nowhere and This Is The Day. She has recently released Bird People and Other Stories, a short story collection related to her novels, and her next release will be a YA dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels. You can learn more on her Facebook page.