Stop Treating Other Writers as Your Competition

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?

Good.

Name one person you know who exclusively reads books from one author.

I’ll wait.

No, seriously, take your time.

Nobody? No takers? Nobody you know ONLY reads books from ONE single author?

Wow. Shocker.

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.

No?

EXACTLY!

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. πŸ™‚

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47 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    Well written! We are all here to pursue our dreams, but that does not mean we are all in competition with one another. Nicely said and I hope you don’t mind the reblog. -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please comment on their post.

  2. La Panzona {Pahn.So.Nuh} says:

    Β‘Bravo! well done. What you said makes sense. Should be obvious but sometimes one needs a cast-iron frying pan to the head. This info is more like silicone oven mitts gently whacked across the face. You got my attention. I must admit, as a new blogger, and self-proclaimed “born-to-write-writer” I feel like there’s competition. I have a couple of mixed messages based on my life experiences but mental health is one “genre”. Even though I’ve only been blogging for 3 weeks I feel like other mental health bloggers ignore me. Maybe I’m too “happy”. Or so it seems based on my few posts. So the thought occurred to me maybe I should write about my really dark moments to attract more readership. Is this wrong? Or unadvisable?

    1. courtneyherz says:

      To me, I think the only thing that is wrong is to write based on the opinions of others. Let them talk. Speak your truth. Anything else is like spiritual blasphemy. If you’re speaking what’s on your heart, and saying the thing you can’t not say, then that genuineness will be rewarded. You will reach the people who need to hear what you were put here to say. If others don’t like it…they don’t like it. Why should that say anything about you? πŸ™‚

      1. La Panzona {Pahn.So.Nuh} says:

        Thank you πŸ™‚

  3. This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for a while… and now I don’t have to! You said it perfectly. I love writing for just this reason: other writers are all allies…. no one is “the competition.” We can all build each other up and watch each other succeed. I love that about writing… and really all art!

  4. Reblogged this on Interpreter of Inspiration and commented:
    I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for a while. Courtney beat me to it. I love, love, love this post.

  5. ralphcapra says:

    Love the post. I am new to writing and blogging and this is very good to hear. I hope to be supported and also support as many people as possible. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Saya says:

    great points Courtney πŸ™‚

  7. Jeremy D. Johnson says:

    This was a super helpful (and healthy) reminder to stay positive about other writers and not be endlessly comparing your work (and worth) to them. Thanks!

  8. Reblogged this on Author Franny Marie and commented:
    I can’t tell you how much I loved this post!
    All writers should support one another, there is no time for drama and competition. we ALL want to get to the peak of our careers, why not help each other get there?

    Re-blogging!<3

  9. I will only compete with other writers at NaNoWriMo write in’s during word sprints when stickers are at stake.

  10. Heartening to read your article. Your thoughts have been well brought out. Precise and to the point. An old adage comes to mind ‘In union is strength.” Applies here too. I am quite new to blogging. I must say, am enjoying it thoroughly. Your thoughts, an encouragement to all budding new writers, am sure. Thank you for sharing.

  11. makupsy says:

    Lovely post and it speaks nothing but the truth. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

    1. Jeanne says:

      It’s a pluasere to find someone who can think so clearly

  12. sheldonk2014 says:

    I am here because I know I have a voice I’m not here for to much else if someone like my art or the words that I choose then thats the gravy for the meat that matters
    Thank you, thank you very much
    As always The Professional Cannon

  13. Jay Dee says:

    Holy crap! This is exactly what I was thinking. I totally agree with you. I’ve been trying to gain good relationships with other authors, and the result is that we all benefit. Other authors are often our best cheerleaders.

  14. Jay Dee says:

    Reblogged this on I Read Encyclopedias for Fun and commented:
    This blog post says everything I’m thinking. Other authors should be your friends, not your competition. If you think that you must compete against other authors, then read this. It is very true.

  15. idiotwriter says:

    Oh thank you! This is a really REALLY good outlook to have. It is weird how so many people think there is ONE BIG final prize. Like somehow if we manage to squash all other writers we stand a better chance of our work being read. Or are we just aiming for the NYT best seller list? even more reason to support each other…never know when it is your turn to be supported πŸ™‚
    Blah blah blah – don’t know why I am writing this … Simply repeating what you have eloquently placed here already….hehehe πŸ˜‰

  16. Excellent post. Personally, my blog readership doubled when I added Paul Curran as a guest poster, and then increased further when Anne Belov and I began collaborating on our cat vs. dog posts. And without the encouragement of established bloggers at the very beginning, I would have given up a long time ago. Hopefully, at some point I will be established enough to offer such encouragement and assistance to other newbie bloggers.

  17. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    Courtney has a great message for authors πŸ˜€

  18. Yes! Thank you for reasonable words and the encouragement to trust ones own voice. Actually, which voice can we speech with, if not our own? About the competition? It already exists, why don’t we join our forces, instead of splitting them? The cyber space is already crowded with piles of books anyway. Tussila wishes you a particularly blessed Christmas holidays!

  19. Reblogged this on galesmind and commented:
    Wow what a great post. I don’t think of other writers as competition. I do admire others skill though and try to learn from them. We are all different as we are all different people and can learn a lot from each other.

  20. Thank you for a great post! I have long been trying to create a writing community (recently through my Reading Recommendations blog), encouraging authors to promote other authors. It’s good for all of us – but especially great for readers who hear of new books that are recommended by authors whose books they may already be reading. It’s a win-win for everyone!

    I’m sharing this post and encourage others to do the same!

  21. Love this! I am actually working with another author who writes in the same genre as me to put together a promotion. We both write pirate stories. they are different but we’ve been having so much fun chatting, reading each others books and plotting our all out attack on pirate story readers. πŸ™‚

    Stick together. We all win.

  22. danniehill says:

    Some of the people I care most about are other writers. I enjoyed your post Courtney.

  23. marilynmunrow says:

    Reblogged this on Marilyn Munrow and commented:
    Love this, you are inspirational.

  24. direktor59 says:

    Excellent analysis! I’ve run across this more than once over the last four years. I post a review on Amazon and Goodreads for each book I read, whether it’s in my genre or not.If I find major issues with the work, I make up a list and forward them on to the writer. For the most part, the notes and comments are taken to heart. A few times they weren’t received with open arms. That’s okay too. We serve no purpose by tearing each other down. It’s very poor taste. I’ve also learned to read all reviews, not just the glowing ones. Why? Because their might be message you’ve over looked in your novel. I know the most helpful review I received was a 1 star. The reviewer pointed out a common thread others mentioned but didn’t elaborate on. I then sat down and reread the work. He was right.The result, I cut out over 8000 words from the story making it crisper and tighter. And yes, it had been professionally edited. Bottom line, we are here to help each other.

  25. Tim Baker says:

    Reblogged this on blindoggbooks and commented:
    A while ago I wrote a blog post about authors treating other authors like competition ( http://tinyurl.com/msbsx76 ). It’s nice to see that I am not the only author who feels that way.

  26. Fay R Kesby says:

    My dad had actually never read anything but Tolkien until he was in his forties when we had to practically force him at gun point to read something else. He is the exception that proves the rule I guess.

  27. Jack Eason says:

    I agree with you Courtney, there is room for all. πŸ™‚

  28. sknicholls says:

    Aside from writing, my greatest joy comes from promoting other authors, both traditionally published and independently published. We will not develop a respectable community in an atmosphere of competition.

  29. Reblogged this on Your Blog Coach and commented:
    This is a must read if you are a writer. We are not each others competitors. We’d only be if everyone read just one book. Just one and never another.

    Comment disabled here so please leave thoughts on Courtney’s blog.

  30. D.T. Nova says:

    Reblogged this on On the Edge of Enlightenment and commented:
    Maybe I’ve been lucky, because in my experience a lot more writers do understand this than not.
    I think I’ve only seen someone say anything cynical like “other writers aren’t my/your community, they’re competition” once.

  31. Matt says:

    Really nice post, Courtney. The world is not a finite pie graph where we try to get the largest slice we can. We can just make the pie bigger. There is always enough.

    We don’t spend enough time lifting up one another, and this is a great reminder that I need to be doing more of that.

  32. Author Rebecca Heishman says:

    I collect authors like some people collect stamps or owl figurines. The reason I do that is because I’m smart enough to know that an author trying to go it alone in this insane world is going to perish in the stampede of self-centered all-about-themselves horn-tooting writers who think their success depends on blocking out other authors the way they try to block out the sun on a blinding-hot day in summer. (And, we all know some of those annoying writers who are out there fighting to ‘win the race.’) I have accumulated an awesome array of fellow authors who have my back. And, guess what? I have their backs, too. I can’t count how many books I’ve sold for other authors, on Facebook alone. My author friends have sold books for me by networking my postings like maniacs whenever I post any news about my work. Here’s the bottom line: there’s room out there for all of us. Readers are starving for good new material. We’re here to provide it to them. We help one another, or we all fail. Karma has proven itself to be my dearest friend for as long as I can remember. It’s real and it’s powerful and it works. I can’t imagine trying to walk this lonely road without my author friends.

  33. rtvoice2013 says:

    Makes sense from a literal perspective. It’s the business side of things where the issue gets cloudy. Other writers, I don’t believe, should be viewed as competitors. Yet in the market place and attempting to be heard they in fact are. Especially from a presentation standpoint – we’re all trying to be seen and heard so if there’s an advantage some would encourage authors to look for it.

    Personally I think there’s enough room on the shelf for everybody. It’s simply a matter of convincing readers and publishers for that atter to expand the library.

  34. Loved the post, highly relevant to myself who has a particularly mercenary sense of being!

    Firstly I must admit that reading books left me like a girlfriend that just packs up and leaves without warning, so kind of a few years behind on the literary scene! but since entering the world of blogs I have found myself enjoying all kinds of posts from different arenas of writing.

    The idea of competitiveness is something I avoid, there’s always someone better and someone worse than yourself so do it for the joy joy happy factor, or if you’re like me just do it as an alternative to killing yourself! (my sense of humour is a tad warped at this stage).

    One thing that does scare me is reading too much and writing too much like someone else, then again I am my own brand of bat shit crazy and have a very defined source of material to work from so I know that’s bullshit, and we only learn new things to improve our technique from looking at others work and adopting new ideas into our own style as a result.

    Great post and food for thought, I’d going to sprinkle it with a dash of self-reflection and drizzle a fresh lemon zest sauce for a bit of zing before tucking in!

  35. Tatum says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. It’s true that we, as writers, need to be supportive and open with one another. The same applies in any field. In fact, it made me think of someone I knew in college, who shall remain nameless. This person was majoring in film; his goal was to become a director. Although I thought it was a great career path, I noticed that he always had some issues. He constantly bashed everyone else’s work, while he thought that everything he’d put together was flawless, that the instructor should have been praising his work and disregarding the other students. When other students’ work was recognized, he wasn’t happy. What a shame, I would think. Sorry, but you can’t succeed in your field of interest with that kind of attitude. Constant support and keeping an open mind is what it takes to better yourself. I’ve come across many, great writers who have inspired me to keep going.

  36. I am glad to see your post found some attention. πŸ™‚

  37. Reblogged this on rollingblogger and commented:
    I am truly sorry to all those who only like original posts from me, but I am here for ALL bloggers and when I read something worth sharing, I am going to share it!!! This is good writing and encouraging to all writers

  38. This is amazing writing and inspirational advice!!! I truly hope this post makes it around the world of writers out there and it tears down the walls that have been created. We are all in this together and you embody that presence!! God Bless you and your writing.

  39. atothewr says:

    I’m an Indy Author that has no problem helping other Authors out. We are all on this writing train so we might as well get along with each other. I have a couple of writers I routinely network with and we are constantly posting on each others blogs. In fact, one of them introduced me to a reader who is a great reviewer and lover of my work. If I hadn’t been open to working with this Author I would have never met this great reader. She has now provided me with several reviews on Amazon.

  40. seefleckrun says:

    Lovely post. Really enjoyed this. It’s true, we need to foster one another’s talent, and avoid feeling threatened by it. πŸ™‚

  41. Jaq says:

    I’ve found that authors who are supportive of other authors do their own sales a lot of good, and I’ve made some brilliant friends through networking and co-operating on cross-promotions. I’ve only come across very few who shoot theselves in the foot, trying to badmouth other authors and stalking, lying, etc. Only one extreme case. Their sales rank is always low.

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