As an accomplished author with two published novels under my belt, I'm often sought out by new or aspiring writers for advice on how to break into the literary world. In my seven years of writing, never once have I refused to share my "secrets" with anyone nor have I hesitated to discuss topics that may be beneficial in helping them down the road to publication. I delight in seeing new authors succeed, and as the "older, more knowledgeable" one, I actually feel, in many instances, that I owe it to them. After all, I didn't get to where I am without the help of others who had forged the path ahead of me. Why should I expect anyone else to do it?
Sadly enough, despite my own willingness to share with my fellow authors, many in the field don't feel the same way. More than once I have been refused the privilege of gaining insight that might help further my career simply because someone chose to be selfish. I've encountered blank stares (read as, "I have no idea what you're talking about"), the silent treatment ("Sorry, my computer/phone stopped working and I also moved so I never got your messages"), or the person simply skirts around the issue and gives an answer/advice that has nothing to do with what I had originally asked. I have to believe these people are afraid that,if they help me, I will somehow take away from their success. If I happen to know the name of a book store contact that they use, will this disable them from returning to that store? If they tell me how to become a presenter at a conference they are speaking at, are they afraid I'll "steal the spotlight" from their presentation? I just don't get it.
In my opinion, we as writers have a common bond and the ultimate goal of each of us is to succeed at the art, whether that means landing a contract with a big-name publisher, selling thousands of books, or simply getting our name in print. We need to stick together, to help each other out, and to cheer each others' successes. Remember, you were once in that person's shoes--if someone helped you, I say, pay it forward.