Are Other Writers Competition?

By: Jennifer Harshman, guest blogger

“Are other writers competition for me?” Some heated debates can arise when it comes to this question. Authors and other writers need to connect with other people, just like anyone else does. Before they connect with others in their field, though, they want to know if their peers are to be treated as friends or enemies.

Are other authors competition?

Some say there’s only so much to go around. People tend to split into two camps on this. One school of thought thinks that yes, indeed, other writers are the competition, that they are to be avoided and mistrusted. Guard your ideas, especially from other authors and from editors who might steal your ideas and your sales. Other writers are the enemy, this camp says.

I’ve seen some authors be downright nasty to other authors because they see them as the competition. More than one of my clients has been reduced to tears as a result of what can only be described as meanness at the hands of another author.

In one instance, Mrs. Sweetness offered to help Mrs. Nastiness out of the goodness of her heart. Mrs. Nastiness could have accepted, or she could have declined politely. Instead, she tore into Mrs. Sweetness for existing and for daring to write in “her” genre and taking part of the cake she wanted to keep all to herself. She told her to get out of “her” kitchen. The scene was painful. That author was a bully on a playground reacting to the gift of a flower by grinding the giver’s face into the asphalt.

Acting like there is only so much to go around and that succeeding requires cutting the throats of other writers is often called “scarcity mentality.” It centers around a belief that there is a set amount of dollars that are going to be spent on books, and all authors (or at least all of the authors in their genre) are vying for the same little piece of the pie. It causes people to treat each other poorly, and it’s sad. What’s worse: it’s not needed. At all. Because it’s not true.

Enough to go around

The other way of looking at it, which is the truer way, is that there is plenty enough to go around, that a rising tide raises all boats. When one author does well, that does not preclude other authors’ success. People are spending more money on books than ever before in history. As one of my clients says, it’s far better to play nice in the sandbox. When you come across an author who answers the “Are other writers competition for me” question with a yes, it might be best to walk away from that person.

While I was on the phone with prolific author Debby Mayne one day, she told me that she isn’t really exposed to writers who are nasty to others. She refuses to associate with them. All of her friends who are also writers are nice, and that’s the way to be, because there really is plenty to go around, and we need each other. I agree. Who else will understand what we go through?

If you are (or were) in the competition camp, please consider looking at other writers as your colleagues instead of your competition. Debby nailed it when she said there is plenty to go around and we need each other. With her encouragement, November 2011 saw my first book come to life. It’s my prayer that you have such friends, and are such a friend to other writers.

Jennifer Harshman helps authors through the book-creation process from concept to completion. Go to HarshmanServices.com and click “Get our free proofreading tip sheet” to get that tip sheet and a $500 e-course delivered right to your inbox.