Ok, but what does this really mean?
It means we create and share our own marketing opportunities. Many times, this takes the form of social media events, sweepstakes giveaways (with dozens of books from dozens of authors), donating ebooks to other authors' events and giveaways, newsletter "exchanges" (where two or more authors feature each other in their newsletters), etc. It also means crowd-sourcing marketing techniques and sharing events with fellow authors.
It also means that, if an author is taking advantage of these opportunities but not sharing and reciprocating... what?
What does it mean when an author is taking advantage of the freely given and freely available opportunities, but not paying it forward to those same authors that are sharing information and events with them?
Well, you have an author who is now "That Guy".
That Guy is the one who never seems to share events, but always seems to manage to sign up for time slots in the events. That Guy is the one who is always asking for help or advice, but never has any to give back. That Guy is the one who begs for beta readers and reviewers - which, for That Guy, is also code for free editing - but always has a reason why he (or she) cannot beta read or review for you.
Because so much of the indie and small-press author community is about a sharing and exchanging of resources, it is incredibly important to reciprocate - give back what you receive. Make it part of your writing goals.
Many authors find that they have less time to read than they used to. It makes sense - we are busy writing. I decided that, in order to keep myself on target, I would make it part of my quarterly goals to beta read/review at least 2 books each quarter from my indie/small press contacts, in addition to any entertainment reading I managed to cram in. (See more about my quarterly goals HERE.)
Other suggestions? Take note of what specific people in your network are interested in. If you have a pal from a writing group who does romance, shoot them a link to a romance-based book release event that he/she can sign up for. If someone in your fantasy author group has been begging for marketing hookups, let them know about the sweepstakes featuring fantasy books.
Trust me, that generosity will come full circle. People remember those who have helped them, and they will be thinking of you when they get something popping up on their radar. When authors share, we all win.