I often hear authors discussing how supportive it can be to be a member of an online group. There is no doubt that comfort comes from knowing others are going through some of the same things that you are. However, I question the quality of support that comes from a Facebook group with 40,000 people in it. While that group might be informational or inspirational, I don’t think it can provide highly personal support over the long run.

Conversely, having a business partner or a good friend who is in the industry can be a tremendous source of support. One of my best friends, Zach Bohannon, is also my business partner, and there have been many times when I have leaned on him in difficult moments, and he has done the same with me.

Some writers I talked to are fortunate enough to have friends who are also writers who happen to be living in the same city or geographic area. Again, having the ability to be supported by someone in real life or online, which is a true friend, is incredibly important but unfortunately, all too rare.

The globalization of our world, while exciting for independent publishers who can now reach readers all over the world, has also made us lonelier. The very purpose of social media has made our lives less social, at least on a superficial level.

It is difficult to find someone who you know can truly support you and all the endeavors you wish to take on. Whether it’s a challenge in that first draft or cracking the code on a new advertising platform, sometimes you just need someone to cheer you on and tell you that they believe you can do it.

Online friendships can provide support, but it usually comes as isolated islands of help. If I email a friend with a problem, that friend might email me back with ideas and support, but once that problem left their outbox, they are probably not thinking about it anymore. Unless I follow up with an email, sharing the results of the situation, that friend might not even know how it resolved.

This is not to say there is no value in having long-distance relationships or getting your support electronically from friends who live across the country or across the globe. As lonely authors, it is important to take that support, however, and wherever we can get it.

And this type of support is not limited to just the business side of things. We often have other aspects of our lives that can influence how we perform in the writing and the running of our business. If one of my children is having an issue or my mom is having a problem, it directly affects my ability to be productive. Writing is a profession that requires extreme mental focus, and if your mind is elsewhere, your work will suffer. I can still perform manual labor while dealing with anxiety, but I cannot have my mind sharp and productive if there is something worrying me.

There is a gap between real life and intimate friendships, and large Facebook groups comprised of tens of thousands of people can’t fill that gap. But a mastermind group can.

I have countless examples of how the mastermind group supports each other.

The less-experienced authors come in and are looking up to those who are a little further down the path than they are. These newbies are seeking advice, ways of doing things that might have become old hat to the veterans of the profession. More experienced writers have gone out of their way to support the newer ones, realizing that we all start in the same place.

And sometimes, a more experienced author needs to be validated by someone other than their peers. I have seen the support go the other way as well, where those newer to the industry have told the veterans how smart and effective they have been in paving the way for others.

But this level of support goes far deeper. Countless times, I have seen members pick each other up. In our private Slack channel, someone will mention the fact that they had did not feel like participating in this week’s session, but they heard or remembered something that someone else said, and that motivated them to attend.

I have witnessed authors encouraging other authors to take risks and to try new things, the kind of support we would not receive from the Internet.

In all of the mastermind groups I have participated in and have run, there is a consistent, genuine support network in which everyone wants everyone else to succeed. Because my mastermind groups are not based on anything competitive such as book royalties or status, everyone is in it for everyone else.

Even as a leader of a mastermind group, I have benefited from the support of the people attending the sessions. I have often shared my own insecurities, or beta versions of products or services that I’m going to offer, asking for feedback from the rest of the group who always does so with loving support.

The size of the mastermind is crucial. If it is too small, this type of rapport is difficult to build. And if the mastermind group is too large, people get lost in the shuffle. Having a group of 10 to 12 people allows for a variety of interactions and friendships to develop, while still building a positive support system where everyone who is participating feels important and valued.

Authors like to think of themselves as lone wolves, as though this is a profession one can do all by ourselves. Especially independent publishers. But we all need support. The most powerful and long-lasting support I’ve benefitted from has been from participating in an author mastermind group.

Want to take your writing chops and business savvy to the next level? Check out The Author Success Mastermind group at https://theauthorsuccessmastermind.com/join/