Monday, October 15, 2007

Know your competition

Authors aren't in competition with each other. Think about it. I know several readers who can finish a 400-page book in a weekend. And what do these readers do once they've finished such a book? They start another one. Unless they've just "discovered" you, and you have an enormous backlist, as an author you're not going to be able to satisfy these readers on your own.

Take J.K. Rowling. Readers were finishing each Harry Potter book in a week. But Rowling published one Potter book a year. Where did her readers go in between her books? To other fantasy releases. Or to other genres. I read romance, mystery, non-fiction, fantasy. And then I returned to Harry in the summer. It was a comfortable arrangement.

So, who are our competitors? Other forms of entertainment. Television programs, movies, computer games, Play Station, the Internet. Angela Henry, Gammy Singer, Pamela Samuels-Young and Lisa Jones Johnson aren't my competition. Halley Berry, Denzel Washington, Reese Witherspoon and George Clooney - to name a few - are. We're competing for attention and disposable income. By the way, according to a study published earlier this year, they're winning.

Have you ever been to a book signing in which another author treated the event like a competitive sport, trying to see who could sell the most books? If you get swept up in that attitude, you could end up feeling like a used car salesperson. Not a good feeling. Conversely, I've participated in several multi-author book signings in which the authors worked to cross promote each other. Those events are wonderful, and the authors get it.

The next time another author/aspiring author asks you for your insight on the business or craft of writing, remember she or he is not your competition. We're in this together and, when you take the time to make one of us stronger, you make all of us stronger.



angela henry said...

Well said, Patricia! I couldn't agree more. Authors need to work together and not against each other. I've been very fortunate that the authors I've met, and multi author book events I've participated in, have been great. But, I've heard tell of lots of bad author behavior directed at fellow authors. We need to be much more worried about why people are reading less.

patricia sargeant said...

Thank you very much, Angela. And I agree with you. As an industry, we're better served spending our energy on getting non-readers excited about reading. Period. said...

Well said!

Radiah of

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