Competitive Authors?

Quick Note First

I would regard it as a personal favour if you could take a quick hop over to Stacy Claflin’s blog, where she features an interview with myself.  It would be nicer still if you could, if you are so inclined, leave a comment on the post.  I think that pursuing such things is a part of supporting each other.

Now for the Meat

I’ve seen something I dislike.  It’s not yet at a point where I would say that it’s a serious problem, but it certainly contains the potential.  Quite simply, it’s commercially-driven book sites, particularly those touting for business in providing services to authors, such as editing, formatting, cover design and marketing.  Two or three I’ve seen carrying variations on the same concept: that authors are in competition with each other!

The idea that we must become cutthroats determined to outdo our fellow authors, somehow robbing them of their market, by employing a variety of tactics is, to me, not as laughable as it should be!  Why not?  Well, not because its valid.  More accurately, I find it offensive because its a cheap ploy aimed at the many who don’t know the realities of the book business and it also creates a mindset of latent aggression between authors.

Anybody who knows anything, of course, knows that there are, and probably always will be, vastly more readers than writers – and that’s discounting the fact that writers are readers too.  Sure, each individual reader has a finite amount to spend on books, but given how many millions of readers there are, that represents a vast sum of money.  Is it such a dreadful fact that its shared?  Do we have to try to grab more of the pot than other authors?  We would all love to be able to live off our writing, but at any cost?  Yes, publishing houses use advertising to attempt to gain more of the market share, but that’s nothing to do with the authors – they don’t actually care about the authors they use in their campaigns.  They’re a business seeking profits and they really don’t worry who gets hurt in the process, or what tools they have to use – and the authors they feature are just that – the tools to profits.  There’s little to suggest that all their efforts are particularly successful, anyway!

So are we in competition with each other?  Personally, I don’t think we are.  Would all the associations, guilds and such exist if we were?  It seems unlikely.  We’d be uninterested in such ‘author clubs’ if we were only interested in sticking the knife in and twisting it!  Of course there are some who have allowed themselves to become corrupted by the idea of selling more than others.  It’s called greed and it occurs in all walks of life.  Does it have to dominate our world?  Not at all!  We don’t need it.

It would be really fantastic if we let the greed-merchants know just what we think of them.  How?  If you’re connected with any of them, by accident rather than intent, then dump them!  If you have books with them, such as free shorts and the like – delete them and close your account!  I shall certainly be doing just that.  I don’t want my name even loosely associated with their kind!

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

10 thoughts on “Competitive Authors?

  1. Nice post! Unfortunately, it’s intuitive to most authors that similar books are competitive, but I feel that similar titles are more often complementary. Sales of similar books feed off of one another through Customers Also Bought lists, word-of-mouth referrals within the target audience, recommendations from coauthors in the genre, etc. When a complementary book’s marketing pays off, it helps other complementary books. Many customers buy a few books at a time, not just one book, especially within their favorite fiction genres. Other customers buy one now, another next month, and so on. It’s often not the case of “will I buy book A or book B” but “I’ll buy both books A and B.” So complementary titles help one another. The foolish author who thinks it’s a dog-eat-dog world and needs to blast a fellow author in some way is most likely shooting himself or herself in the foot. If the sales of complementary books plummet, so does the author’s own book, through the wonderful marketing that those other books’ sales provide. Jmho.

  2. Thanks for this thoughtful post, Steve. I suspect the only competitive part of writing is meeting one’s own goals and deadlines. No other writer stands between me and my desk — just my own procrastination, fears, laziness, busy-ness, etc. etc. But I can see how best-seller lists, starred reviews on GoodReads and other sites, and website statistics can lead us to think we’re all in some kind of race to the top, needing to shove others aside as we jockey for position. Misplaced effort — it makes so much more sense just to work on one’s writing and to support fellow artists.

  3. Thoughtful post, Steve. I wish everyone shared your views. Having been in the business for many years now (over 13), I have to say I’ve seen both kinds of writers. I’ve been brutally backstabbed more than once (one example – a supposed author friend who craftily maneuvered me out of a live interview appearance on the Today Show (a popular TV program in the US)). On the other hand, I’ve seen incredible generosity of spirit in fellow authors. The ones who give back so much to the community.

    I’d hazard a guess that most writers are very good people with their hearts (and attitudes) in the right place. And that, as in most things, a small percentage of stinkers and trolls dwell amongst us.

    Coming from an airline background where there really is an even playing field, I often find myself missing that ‘balance’ very, very much in the publishing business.

    You’re a beautiful soul and one can only hope there were more like you.

    • Thanks, Sue-Ellen :) What a horrible thing to have done to you! :( As you say, there will always be the few who are unpleasant, in any group of people. I guess the trick is knowing who they all are. But the majority will always be better folk. Things aren’t helped, of course, by the fact that aggressive competition is encouraged in so many other aspects of life. Thank you *blush* I think that there are plenty of good people out there – I’ve certainly encountered more good than bad ;)

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