Geek As Citizen: Helping Others Publish

When I was at Con-Volution, enjoying a break and the ambiance of the dining area, it was a bit crowded. A charming older woman asked if she might sit at my table as the area was so densley packed, and I figured some dinner company would be delightful. I’m always glad to meet new people, and frankly her manners really impressed me.

We got to chatting, and she turned out to be a fascinating person.  Now in hher 70’s she’d let quite a life, and had considered doing a book about it; over the decades she’d had many amusing experiences and wanted to share them. As our conversation progressed, I had to agree she was right – in fact her life would have made a wonderful romantic/family comedy.

I noted that she could self-publish easily and at least get a book out there, then seek professional publication. She had not explored the world of self-publishing, so I gave her my card and mentioned if she was interested, she could email me. I would be glad to help her out, I noted, since I had been published and she clearly had many stories worth telling.

This got me thinking about we geeks helping others get published.

I’ve covered something similar earlier; I feel we should actually put effort into making our works consolidated and accessible to people. But what about helping others do the same?

Well, my short answer is “yes we should do this” but let’s unpack this a bit. If nothing else, it lets us take a serious look at geek citizenship, our skills, and what we can do in the sphere of publishing (which for this column will be any general way to get someone’s information out there).

The Importance of Publishing.

As I noted earlier, we geeks are usually prolific in our creativity. Now not all of that is something we may consider for the ages, nor for public consumption, nor even in good taste. But often we produce some pretty extensive bodies of work that can help others – even if it’s a good laugh or a quick thrill. By making it more accessible, we are better citizens because our works can reach others and bring their benefits.

Helping others do the same really falls under this same obligation. Other people may have bodies of work that others would benefit from and enjoy. If we help them do get things published, then we let them do more good as well. It’s not much different than the obligation and benefit I stated in publishing our own works.

However there are other things to consider when assisting others get their words, art, and creations out . . .

Publishers And Non-Publishers

Chances are you’re some kind of publisher, even if it’s some Tweets or journal posts. As common as this seems, it’s important to remember not everyone knows what you do. In fact it’s easy to take what we do for granted and realize how many people don’t or can’t blog, self-publish, or distribute PDFs.  We can get casual about what is very powerful knowledge.

As geeks, and those of us who consider ways to apply that geekry to citizenship, helping others publish is another way to be effective members of society. We take that knowledge that others do not have and put it to use. We make that which is unlikely possible, even if our publishing skills seem somewhat unremarkable.

Consider for a moment how many people with something to *say* that you know that can’t get it out there. There’s a lot of good to be done.

Passing On The Knowledge

When we assist others in publishing, we also pass on the knowledge to them. We might not pass it on right away, it make take time, it may take a little persuasion, but eventually those we help can learn to publish on their own. True, you may not relish the idea of getting them to that independent state (I’m not a paragon of patience when teaching), but the results can be considerable.

Each person you pass on the ability to publish to, be it a blog or an e-book, or even full self-publishing, is someone who can get more good works out. Sure, someone may use it only once, or another person may loose interest, but the benefit is still there.

There is also the chance that those you help out, and eventually enable to publish on their own will get good enough at it they’ll pass it on to others. They can give people that power that you gave them.

Building Bridges

Finally, beyond the good we do directly, there’s the fact that when we geeks, with all our media skills help others, we build bridges.

As I’ve noted, I consider Geeks to be part of society and vital ones – applied intellectuals, creative people, folks who stand at the crossroads. But not everyone has our approach and enthusiasms, nor should everyone. In addition, though we are more well regarded in the last few years, there’s still “geek gaps” in our culture, which you likely experience often, such as when you go home for the holidays and become tech support.

When we help others out, we bridge those geek gaps in others, in society – and in ourselves. We reach outside of our demographics and build a connection. Considering how stratified society can become – especially in areas of technology – this is, simply, a good thing.

People also learn more about how a demographic of society they’re not part of operates.  They now understand the obsession someone has with blogging, or the work that goes into self-publishing a book, or the challenges of formatting, and so on.  They are not just connected with you – they understand a lot more about other people like you.  You, by helping them, let them glimpse a larger world.

It could be with a stranger – or with a member of your family. But the bridge is built, and the knowledge is given.


If you’re at all involved in some kind of publishing, take the time to help others when you can so they can do the same thing. It’s a geeky thing to do, and a good part of geek citizenship; it has all the benefits of publishing as well as training others and building connections.

Amazing what you cand o with an offer to help.

– Steven “Keep Making The Books” Savage