Listen to a lot of authors and they’ll tell you that we’re not competitors, that we’re all friends and we aren’t competing with one another. Then, you look at stuff like my marketing strategy book where you review genres and yes, authors, for how to do promotions, how to sell more and that kind of breaks that question.
So are we all competitors? Are we friends?
Are We Competitors? The Simple Answer
Yes and no.
At the highest level, yes – we’re all competing.
But, strategically (i.e. high level for an author), no. We’re not competitors.
On a tactical level? Yes. Obviously.
The More Detailed Response
You see, yes we are competitors, by definition of being an entertainment medium. People have a finite number of hours, a finite amount of focus and concentration. No matter what, there is a maximum of 24 hours a day. We compete with every other medium, every other potential draw on time.
Same with money. Though Kindle Unlimited helps defray that to some extent (if they read ebooks and you’re in it).
So, at the largest level, we’re all competitors fighting for the same time.
Then, if you narrow your views down further, if mine, Luke Chmilenko and Dakota Krout released a book on the same day, by definition someone cannot read them all. So, in that sense we are all competing during that moment for our launches. You see that happen towards the end of the month / start of the month ALL the time.
It’s why big authors try to avoid one another, why smaller authors might avoid the start of the month and fight for space towards the end of the month. Or conversely at times, try to jump on the also boughts of these big authors (to ride their success higher).
Now, readers might BUY all those books, but they won’t read them all immediately. And if they delay reading too long, they might never read the next release in your series, pushing your sales down.
You can just review your own behaviour – you are constantly making decisions on what to read, watch, eat, etc. and what you spend precious dollars upon. It’s a continual battle for attention and money.
In that high-level sense, we’re all competitors and on a more tactical, day-to-day level around launches, we’re all fighting for the same readers (to some extent. Obviously, there are reader preferences involved).
When We’re Not Competing
Here’s the no though. Once that reader finishes my book, what else is he going to do? Maybe I’m lucky and he reads the rest of my work. With a whale reader, that’s maybe a week and then he’s stuck waiting another 3-6 months for my next release. And I’m a fast writer for the most part. Even the fastest writer I know of who writes and edits his own work (not talking of people who use ghost); releases about once a month.
Many readers will finish that book in a few days.
What is that reader going to do when he’s done with your work?
My best bet – on a purely mercenary outlook – is make this reader keep reading in my genre. If he sticks to good books in the genre, he’ll likely pick mine up when I release the sequel, whether through also boughts or just because he’s still enjoying the genre and what he’s reading.
If not, if he loses interest in the genre, in reading, maybe he does something else. Maybe he gets a dog, starts doing sports or watching the latest Marvel movie.
In this case, other authors are my collaborators, my friends. I want them to put out good books, I want them to keep the interest of this reader. If we’re creating (as a whole) more value than whatever other thing he might do, we win in the long run.
Here’s another though – one that I wield when ‘new’ authors or ‘write to market’ authors come into my genre – each author who writes in the genre who brings in new readers grows the market. Dakota, Luke, Michael, James, myself, etc, all advertise heavily, often to non-current readers in the genre.
All those new readers? They’re now a potential sale for me and the rest of the authors in the genre. The only way these other authors can afford to advertise is if they are doing well. The only way the genre can grow, is these other authors are doing well.
New (brand new) authors do the same, to a smaller extent. Some – most – will not add any new readers, but a small number will (friends, family, etc.). And those numbers are all benefits.
On top of that, you have things like collaborations with authors to mix your readership via newsletter (you won’t reach every single reader), genre and short anthologies, cross-promotion opportunities, bundles, panels, etc.
So many of my opportunities, so many of the things I’ve learnt (in craft, in marketing) has been because of other authors.
Would I have had those opportunities? Those learning moments if I treated other authors as competitors?
So, no, on a strategic level; when I interact with other authors, I don’t see them as competitors. Mostly. I do get professionally jealous, from cover envy to sales rank envy, etc. but that’s my problem. And yeah, there are individuals who I don’t like, but again, it’s often not because I think they are competition but because they have rubbed me (the personal, non-author me) the wrong way.
Again, in conclusion
In general on a strategic level, I don’t see other authors as competition. On a tactical level, definitely since I look at when people release, what sub=genre trends are beginning to fill up (sometimes), what and how they’re writing, etc.
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