This business of writing.
It's a dog eat dog world. You've got to watch your back. Trust no one with your ideas. Play everything close to your vest.
And for GOD'S sake, don't help anyone along the way because,
A) They've got to pay their dues (YOU had to learn the hard way, why should it be easier for THEM?)
B) The people you help along the way will only BECOME YOUR COMPETITION!!!!!
Of course, ALL of the above is bullshit. But it's an attitude that far too many writers have.
Yes. Publishing IS a tough industry, which is why we all need to educate ourselves about it. Read widely so you know what's out there in your genre. Invest in a Publisher's Marketplace so you can see what the deals are. Check out Predators and Editors and Absolute Write to check out agents and editors.
If you're self publishing, TALK to other writers about the companies they worked with. Nothing like an unbiased opinion to get the behind-the-scenes reality of a situation, good or bad.
This goes for agents and editors too. Clients talk. :)
But you know what's awesome? Helping people and not expecting anything back. And you know where there's a lot of this?
The writing community.
(And don't even get me started on how much I love you all for helping me during my time of flooded-out need that I am STILL going through. <3)
I've never been a hoarder of knowledge. I resent when people know things, and don't share that knowledge with others out of some old school attitude that because THEY had to learn the hard way, EVERYONE should. I'm all for making people's lives easier. Because why not?
As for not helping people because they might become your competition, that's just sad. How insecure are you in your abilities that you think helping someone hurts you? Your work should stand on its own merit. Helping someone else doesn't hurt you.
I've helped people out. My CP Jessa Russo and I threw a contest (PitchMAS) before either of us even had an agent, just because we wanted to HELP other writers!
I've helped other people with free critiques. They've gotten agents, and book deals, and editors. You know who it hurt? NO ONE! It made me PROUD thinking maybe I had a tiny tiny little part of their journey to their dreams.
Did I think, 'OMG I've created competition!!! CURSE MY ALTRUISM! NEVER AGAIN!!!'
NOOOOO. Because I may have contributed, helped nudge someone in the right direction, but ultimately, THEY did the work and got themselves where they are. It would be super egotistical to think I *made* someone, or was the only reason they became a success.
And maybe they WILL be my competition on the shelves. GOOD! I want AMAZING people on the shelves with me! I don't want to be number one because everyone below me is inept and talentless. I want to be number one because I "beat" TALENTED, tough competition!! (Really, there are no 'winners' except for the readers who find the *right* book at the *right* time).
I have FABULOUS Crit partners who are STELLAR writers. When they write gorgeous manuscripts that make me wish I'D written them, do I feel mad? NO! Well, some teeth gnashing at their brilliance may occur, but I value them because it makes me strive to improve, to hone my craft. To write a MS that will make THEM rend THEIR garments!!!
Help people. Be there for them. Make their journey easier. LIFE is hard enough without us actively contributing to it, or even just not helping out when we can.
Maybe publishing is a dog eat dog business, but you don't have to be a bitch.