There’s a trend that I’ve noticed, and I feel it needs attention. In cyberspace as in social space, it seems that writers like to consider other writers their competition. While this might initially make some amount of sense on the surface when it comes to writers within one’s own genre, it makes little to no sense when looking at writers in other genres. However, I’m here to tell you that no matter what genre the fellow writer across from you or next to you or on the next Amazon listing as you writes in, they are not your competition.
Ready for me to prove my point by asking one simple question?
Name one person you know who exclusively reads books from one author.
No, seriously, take your time.
Nobody? No takers? Nobody you know ONLY reads books from ONE single author?
Now, tell me how many people you know that read exclusively one genre?
This might be slightly easier, but I’ll give you more time.
Even for people who do read one or two genres exclusively I know almost nobody who reads one single author and no other. In fact, what I know to be true from my own experience, and I’m sure you can relate, is that if I love Stephen King’s work (and if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written it becomes abundantly clear that I do), I’m going to go “Wow that was a great book, who else writes in this genre/on this topic/in this vein?”
Never am I going to say “Wow, this Stephen King guy is great, screw every other writer!”
In fact, I was introduced to the work of Neil Gaiman via Stephen King’s post regarding All Hallow’s Read awhile back. Have I stopped reading Stephen King because I discovered Neil Gaiman? No. Of course not.
If your audience only reads the genre in which you write, then you should be networking with other writers in that field to help each other gain an audience. If your audience reads other genres, which they probably do, you should connect with those writers, too.
Writers need to get over themselves and get over the fear of “losing readers” to other writers and start helping each other, especially in this day and age. Self-publishing is an amazing tool that allows writers to bypass the corporate and often highly political world of traditional publishing and put our stories right into the hands of the readers. But along with that comes the need to market, network, and help each other get publicity until the scales tip slightly more towards favoring self-published work.
And even if you go the traditional publishing route, you still need to network with other writers, because you will help each other find readers. And you’ll also help your readers find more of what they like. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
When it really comes down to it, the reason you don’t want to network with other writers is because you’re afraid your work is inadequate, and if that’s the level of confidence (or lack thereof) you have in your work, it won’t succeed anyway. Because if you don’t believe in your work, who will?
The attitude should be “Wow, this person writes on some of the same things I do and clearly stands for some of the same things I do, let’s promote each other and reach our readers!”
Anything other than that is merely an attempt to avoid being compared. News flash – you will always be compared. No matter what you do. But as a writer, leave the comparing to other people. Your job is to speak, to spread a message in whatever way you choose, and to help other people who are in line with your thoughts, stories, and who support the same causes you do.
That is all.
Can you think of a time that networking with another writer helped you? Can you think of a time where trying to establish an exclusive readership backfired? Let us know in the comments. 🙂