Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why Other Authors Are Your Allies, Not Your Competition

Anyone who has been an author, or thought about trying to become an author, has no doubt seen a message that says, "other authors are your allies, not your competition." In one way, this seems like total bullshit, as every author is clearly competing with every other in a very real way. There are only a certain number of places on the store shelves, a certain number of people reading books, and with a certain amount of disposable income, and everyone is trying to get to the top of that heap.

Artist's Interpretation
However, if you step back from the dog-eat-dog, pure capitalist viewpoint, you'll see there is a lot of truth to the idea that we are all in this together. Helping fellow authors doesn't hurt you; if anything, it gives you allies that can help you keep your head above water.

Building Each Other Up, Instead of Tearing Each Other Down

Since people love real-world examples, I'll share one of my own here.

For those who have never been to The Literary Mercenary's sister blog, Improved Initiative, it's where I talk about tabletop gaming. Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, the World of Darkness, stuff like that. And, over the past three years or so, that blog has garnered a reputation and a following. Not a huge one, but it is still there.

Would you get to the point already?
Right. So, I was in a Facebook group dedicated to the Pathfinder roleplaying game, when a fellow I didn't know made a post, asking for advice on whether he should start a blog of his own. He'd been an avid gamer, and wanted to figure out a way to make his hobby into a career. On the one hand, if this fellow did write a blog, then that was (technically) one more website gamers could go to for the resources they needed. And, if he was good, then it would mean I'd have some serious competition on my hands.

Or would I? Because Simon Peter Munoz, creator of the Creative Repository Blog, is quite good as a blogger, gamer, and designer. However, rather than trying to discourage him, or undercut him so he couldn't take any of my traffic, or my audience, I offered him a hand up. I shared my experience being a blogger, answered what questions he had, and I try to mention his work as often as possible (speaking of which, if you're a gamer, go check out the CRB Facebook page). But why do that? Won't that take people away from my blog, and hurt my income?

The reason you may think that is because of the primary, incorrect assumption we make when we turn publishing into an "us versus everyone" game. We assume that there's only so much success to be had, and that if someone else gets more, there is somehow less for us. Which isn't, strictly speaking, true.

You see, I have an audience. Simon, now that he's been in the game a while, also has an audience. I tell my audience about the stuff that he does, and do my best to big-up his signal when I can. He returns the favor. The net result is that, working together, we both have bigger audiences than we'd have had separately, with more exposure, traffic, and success all around.

Networking Helps More Than You Know

There's an old phrase authors should remember. If you act like the world is against you, sooner or later you're going to be proven right. If, on the other hand, you help other authors succeed, then they're going to turn around and repay the favor to you. If you introduce someone to a publisher, editor, or opportunity, then that means when someone they know is looking for someone that has your skill set, your friend is going to hand that someone your contact information.

Because that's what makes the world go round.
Sometimes all it takes is kind words, and the occasional book review, to make a new friend. And, when you have a book coming out, all those friends that you helped are more likely to help you get the word out. You can do all the marketing you want, but there's nothing like having a dozen, or a hundred, people with blogs tell the world at large that your latest release is not to be missed, and that they should go get a copy right away.

Also, speaking of shout-outs, you should all check out Ben Reeder's Amazon author page. He does good work, and you won't be disappointed.

Thanks for stopping in to check out this week's Business of Writing post. Hopefully it taught you a valuable lesson regarding sharing, and not looking at your readers as a finite resource that must be controlled at all costs. As always, if you'd like to help support this blog so I can keep the lights on and my coffee cup filled, just stop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to toss a tip or two in my jar. Lastly, if you haven't done so yet, please follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter if you'd like to keep up with all my latest posts.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. As a SF Romance author I found the other authors who are published by the same small publisher as myself were incredibly supportive and helpful. As I became more confident and published more books I became friends with many other authors, many published elsewhere and writing in completely different sub genres although mainly in the romance area. I have made some real life-long friends through writing, and I try and promote and support my fellow authors as much as I can and they do the same. After all, no two books are ever the same and as you say, widening the audience helps everyone.