I’ve been coming across lot’s of posts on writer’s envy and competition. I was quite surprised when I googled writer’s envy and found there were 400,000 posts on it. WHAT? 400,000 authors envious of other authors and thousands of authors equally commiserating in the comments section of those posts.
Let me admit; yes I’ve been hit with writer’s envy. That pang of pain is very short lived in my case, roughly thirty minutes and then it’s over. I’ll tell you why.
– Authors Are Not Your Competition, They Are Your Customers
Let’s be honest. Authors are the most voracious readers. I’ve read 102 books already this year and I know I’ll hit two hundred by the end of the year. I will not fall asleep or commute without a book. Where others see 400,000 green eyed writers, I see 400,000 opportunities to sell books. Just imagine if all those people bought and read your book, what would happen? All of them are readers first and writers second. Focus on your customer, not your competition. The only reason you may think this doesn’t work is if you don’t buy other author’s books or support the publishing business yourself. Please don’t say you’re low on cash. If you’re spending 4 bucks on fancy coffee everyday, you can certainly buy a book a week.
-Authors Are Your Advertisement
Word of mouth is still the way to go when it comes to advertising books. When I read “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein, I went on and on and on about the book. I told my friends, my church group, and my family. I spoke about the book everywhere I went . At dinner parties and in crowded elevators, in trains and during potlucks. I told everyone. Authors have huge branding and audiences today. A word here or there can help spread the message about your book. You need their word, you need their mouths. 🙂
-Authors Are Your Colleagues
I keep telling people, no business is a self sustaining business. It requires people and teams. Whether it’s healthcare or publishing, you need other people. You need your colleagues. You never know when you may need a fellow author to write a foreword, or a blurb or even back copy for you. You may need an author to beta read or help you with developmental issues. You may need them for blog tours or advice. Authors have to stick together. The industry is rapidly changing and you can’t think of your colleagues as roadblocks to your success.
-Authors Are Like The Tides of the Sea
They say a rising tide floats all boats. Your fellow author’s success is your success. If you know a very successful author, chances are his or her success will rub off on you. Especially if you share books with the same publishing house, or the same agent or even the same editor. More eyes on them can and will translate into eyes on you.
-Authors Are Your Teachers
Steve Job’s in his biography said, “You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say, you’re going to do it differently.” You learn how to write different characters, build different worlds, use different vocabulary, and create different memories. Sherlock’s been written and rewritten. Mr. Darcy has been written to death. Write something new, become you, not the next Jane Austen. You!
-Authors Are All Different Shades Of The Same
We’re all struggling with words, insecurity, and fears. Will my book be published? Will readers like it? What if I get a bad review? What if X or Y hates it? Does my editor think it’s crap? We’re all human and we all want validation for our work. We’re all same in our differences. I know every time I send a review request or send my work to my editor, I still fear rejection. When I hear negative feedback it hurts and I still cry. All authors go through this. There’s no need to be green eyed about someone else’s success without unless you’re equally envious of their tears as well.
Word Of Caution: The only person in this competition is the person standing in the mirror. While many may see the light in this post few might take it as a message of “I scratch-you scratch” policy. It isn’t. Please don’t take advantage of your fellow author’s generosity. I see many authors send in requests to review books and do time consuming things: like my post on Facebook, tweet my book here, add me there, heart me, and all of that. Only to turn around and refuse to help others market their’s or worse trash other people’s books. Dear authors, I’m not your competition. I buy your books and I help you succeed. Please for the love of all that is holy, remember that.