In my road to author happiness, I’ve had the good fortune to run across a great many awesome authors. I say this is good fortune because I’ve also managed to find an overwhelming number of jackasses. They’re out there. Those folks who just care about themselves, don’t have any interest in talking about anything outside of their books and will do everything to prop themselves up in the effort of selling their books.
There’s so many of those folks that it might seem impossible to find actual people out there who write…you know, real people, not sales bots.
I’m happy to say that those people ARE actually out there, and a great many of them actually write pretty phenomenal books.
Since I’ve begun reviewing books on a regular basis, I’ve found myself getting to know more and more authors…and I just can get over how many real people there are who write great books, considering how certain I had become for a while that all of those authors out there other than me were just douchebags who were willing to trample the competition.
And there’s the dirty word…competition.
You see, there’s a certain issue with the authoring world that is a real one that I thing needs to be focused on, at least for a minute. We’re all in competition with each other. Yes, there’s much to be said for the fact that we can really work toward propping each other up and working toward creating some sort of utopian reader paradise where they will all swim through the smorgasbord that is our collective masterpieces…but the harsh reality is that people are going to pick one book over the other 98% of the time. They aren’t going to just jump in and grab all of our books, they’re going to grab the book that stands out the best.
This is a harsh over-generalization of the situation, but I think you get the idea: To be an author, you really need to be able to make friends with other authors. Every single other author out there is a person whom you are competing with for the eyes of readers everywhere.
Can people read you book and the book of your friend’s? Certainly, and the hope should be that they will (at least if you’re a good friend), but in the end, most authors, even the ones who are real people that you can actually talk to, are more interested in having any given reader read their book over their friend’s books.
This is quite easily where the problem stems for those people who go completely over to the dark side, where they just don’t care about other authors and are only concerned about their own work…
This issue also stems from the concept of needing to become a financially successful author.
I mean, really…who wouldn’t want to make enough money off their books to be able to make it their sole profession? I’ll readily admit that I’m up for it. Hey, I’m even working my butt off to try and get there, even if it’s not an actual necessity of my life. It’s a dream goal, but not one I’m willing to change my personality and my principles for.
Take, for instance, my friendships with other authors…I really appreciate having author friends for one simple reason…it’s a lot of fun to have books to recommend to my reader friends that are by people that I actually want to support.
Because although I just said something completely different a few lines up, the truth is, we’re not in competition. Now, sure, if we’re both in a writing competition held by some corporation and attempting to get first prize, we are, technically, in competition, but that’s besides the point. There’s not even a need for good sportsmanlike conduct here, because we’re simply not in competition with each other. We are in business with each other. Or at least we should be.
On Monday I talked about the fact that there really is no good way to advertise a book outside of recommendations. Did you realize that recommendations can come from authors? I know for a fact that many of my readers take my recommendations to heart and go out and buy the books I rank highly on my blog. I’ve even had one or two buy the books that I ranked low on. I also know that I’ve received sales from other authors recommending my books to them.
There are something like fifteen gumptrillion books in publication right now. Seriously, just take a look at the kindle store, or smashwords, or wattpad, or wherever. If there’s one thing readers need help with, it’s picking their next book to read. I remember when I first got my Kindle, after a few years of just not having the time or energy to read…I sat and looked at it and asked myself…well…soooo…what do I read now? Of course, now my kindle is overburdened and I can’t read fast enough, but that’s just due to all the books that are sent to me for review. My wife’s a tad more picky…as are many other readers out there.
Instead of thinking of other authors as your competition, you need to begin thinking of them as partners, affiliates, or however you want to phrase it. Honestly, you need to start thinking of them as friends. Until you can get the reader majority to start pimping out your books, you need to find someone who will…and other authors are your best bet.
So, this is my writer’s recommendation for today. Make friends with other authors, offer to promote their books, maybe even ask if they would help promote yours. You’ll probably find that you’ll see a grand increase in the numbers of people at least checking out your books. In fact, I’ll go ahead and guarantee it.
Speaking of which…anyone want to promote my books? I love a good promotion swap 🙂
Have fun out there!
(p.s. I feel that this note could make it sound as though author recommendations could be shallow and self-serving. In many cases, they probably are. For me (and I hope the authors I interact with) it is the result of finding fellow authors we respect and appreciate the writing for)