Written by Karin Beery

When I was in elementary school, my parents took my sisters and me to the store and had us pick out toys we really wanted. Then they had us put the toys in a big box by the side of the store’s door.

It was December, and it was a Toys for Tots box.

I remember trying to negotiate with my parents so I could give a toy while also receiving a toy, but my folks were steadfast. It wasn’t enough to give part of the gift; we had to give it all.

I don’t remember how old I was when that happened, and I don’t remember what toy I picked out, but I will never forget the lesson—as long as we have enough, it’s our responsibility to give.

I’ve never gone a year without giving time, money, and/or toys to local programs supporting families and kids during the holidays, but a few years ago I started thinking about giving to the people I work with. I’ve discovered some great ways to give back to the industry I love so much.

  1. Give a service. There are always groups and conferences looking for donations to give to members and attendees. Free services are always a hit—a free 3-chapter critique or book proposal edit are popular with new writers.
  2. Give a thing. This can seem difficult when you don’t have a published book or product, but it doesn’t have to be. Think about the thing that’s most helped you in your career (a book, a webinar, a class). Pick up a copy (or pay the registration fee) and give a copy away with your business card and contact info inside.
  3. Give your time. This one wasn’t as obvious at first, but it’s a huge help to any contest organizer—volunteer to judge a writer or book contest. They always need people to read and rate manuscripts and books, and each contest comes with a rubric so you know exactly what to look for. You can agree to judge one book or six. Any time you can give is always appreciated.

Whatever your specialty and expertise, there’s always someone who’d be blessed by it. And because these aren’t holiday-specific ideas, you can give back all year round.

Happy giving!

Karin Beery owns Write Now Editing, where she helps authors turn good manuscripts into great books. She is also a general editor for Iron Stream Media and Brookstone Publishing Group, a PEN Institute instructor, and a regular presenter at state and national writing conferences.  When she’s not editing or teaching, she writes hopeful fiction with a healthy dose of romance.