Other Authors: Companion or Competition?
Selling your novel to a publishing company is an extremely difficult thing to do, and whether you land a contract or decided to self-publish, marketing and selling your book is basically a full time job in itself. They say it’s a competitive market. But are we pushing each other out of the way to reach the reader first?
For those of you that are readers rather than writers, let me give you a little background on the life of your average writer. Writing novels is not our full time job. We dream of one day being able to pay the bills with our writing gig, but it’s a grueling uphill battle. Many of us write in our spare time, grabbing up any chance that we can to write cymbalta dosage. We have demands from our families and homes, cooking, cleaning, and the dreaded grocery shopping. And for those authors out there with kids it’s that much more difficult to carve out that coveted writing time.
Once you publish, you have to keep pumping out the word count, and start thinking about your marketing plans for the book, and on top of that, it’s now a business you’re running, so you have that whole side of it to deal with.
So when it comes to dealing with other authors, and aspiring authors, should we view them as a companion or as the competition? I say it’s a little bit of both.
After watching the Olympic decathlon this summer and seeing the interviews of Canadian athlete Damian Warner, and USA athlete Ashton Eaton, I would have to say there is definitely some friendly competition between authors. Much like the competition between Warner and Eaton. Eaton told interviewers that decathlon participants celebrate each other’s triumphs and use each other’s successes to push themselves harder.
Just as Warner and Eaton motivate each other to do better, the success of other authors should serve as a helpful boost to your own improvement.
As a writer it is imperative that you read, and read a lot. When you read (whether inside or outside of your genre) you should be able to see how other authors make use of different craft elements. For example, I recently read Alexa Land’s Baby, a short story she wrote for Over the Rainbow. Her use of imagery is vivid and relatable:
“The toddler accepted it from him eagerly and crammed it in her mouth at a rate that would have made the Cookie Monster proud.” ~ Alexa Land, Baby
I had to run to my husband when I read this line, and tell him about this imagery that made me laugh out loud. He of course gave me a look that I assume is the equivalent of my face when he’s talking about the internal working of a car motor.
Another example I recently read was Hazel Hughes’ Please. The entire story is chalked full of strong description and metaphors that bring the story to life and make for easy visualization. I’m currently reading her newest release Dance with Me, and loved this little gem:
“It was the antithesis of the sleek wine-bars and hipster faux pubs that dotted the city like poppy seeds on a bagel.” ~Hazel Hughes, Dance with Me
Wonderful description! The whole paragraph really made New York city come alive.
I read and watch what other authors are doing. How they describe settings, how they build characters, and sexual tension. How they use humor or suspense. How they hook you at the beginning, and where they break their scenes and chapters. Some are better at various elements, and some are masters of it all.
I feel that other authors push you to constantly be improving your own craft.
In my experience, other authors have been more like friends. They are willing to help you in any way they can.
- There’s blog sharing, and Facebook take overs
- We share each other’s good news
- We communicate through social media with one another
- We offer critiques, and advice
When I was first offered my contract at EXtasy I emailed author Viola Grace to ask her how she found working for the publisher. She had nothing but kind things to say, and wasn’t shy about giving me advice and answering my questions. Likewise EXtasy’s Sean Kerr has been delightful, and friendly. Charlie Richards immediately welcomed me to Facebook. It was a warm reception from the EXtasy authors, and they even put up with all my amateur questions.
I found the same thing when I joined the RWA (Romance Writers of America) and their Passionate Ink chapter. Not only did I gain access to learning material, and the opportunity to take workshops, but I found a community of wonderful authors willing to help one another.
There is the added bonus that you can idea share about not only the craft of writing, but also about social media strategies, and business advice.
Of course, there will always be that odd person or two that doesn’t quite adhere to these unspoken rules of friendship, but in the past year I’ve met a lot of wonderful, and helpful authors, that I’d not only consider healthy competition, but also my friends.