By BA Couture
Most in the writing community know that self-publishing seems to be increasing exponentially, but self-publishing isn’t a snap, though some find it easier than others.
In any case, a lot of research and study goes into learning how to produce a professional-looking published work. Self-publishers are competing with huge publishing companies that know how to produce a quality-looking product and how to market it.
So I was rather surprised and dismayed to discover yet another issue self-publishers face. I’ve read that writers who self-publish consider any other writer who writes in their genre to be their competition.
I don’t understand that.
Writers, who flock to Amazon to get their stories told, don’t see each other as comrades, fighting to have their words acknowledged and recognized, but rather as competitors?
Well, that’s just sad. Now, perhaps traditionally published authors also feel this need for competition; I don’t know, but I can’t imagine why. So far, I’ve only heard this in the self-publishing world.
I understand various websites, including Amazon, may view writers as competitors; that’s their perspective, their mentality of operation, with their objectives and goals.
As a writer, I’m not interested in entering into a competition. I’m interested in, and in fact dedicated to, providing the best entertainment my IQ, my creativity, and my hard work can accomplish. I don’t now, and I don’t expect to ever, consider a fellow writer my competitor.
Anyone out there screaming, “God, is she naïve!” Yup, I hear ya.
But, day dreamer that I am, I had thoughts of how self-publishers could help each other fight the stigma of being self-published, help each other fight the real competition: big-money, lots-of-experience, don’t-have-to-actually-write-the-words, publishing companies. And I have nothing against them; I simply want a share of the market.
My thoughts on self-publishing camaraderie were before I heard about competition amongst writers. Now to divulge those thoughts seems pretty silly.
But just for our small blog group, not to be shared with anyone else, I will tell you about the germ of an idea I had when I first, and perhaps temporarily, decided against traditional publishing. Here goes.
I’d have say five or six (maybe even eleven or twelve) novels published on Amazon, and those novels would gloriously appear on my website. Say a reader, one-single-solitary reader, reads one of my books, and she (I write romance so I’ll go with the gender odds) likes it enough to read book two, and so on until she finishes all six books. What now? Shall she sit around and wait until I write another?
We know that’s not going to happen. She paid to read my books; she’s my customer and I want her to be happy or at least satisfied—if I have any business sense at all. And even if I don’t, even if all my books are free because I’m independently wealthy, I still want her to come back, for the same reason I wanted her to come to me in the first place—to read my stuff.
So in all my naiveté, I put something like this just below those six beautiful covers on my webpage, the stories she’s already read:
Dear Reader, if you’re looking for more romance, here are some authors I’d recommend:
Julie Squid writes Historical Romance-if you like sinister villains creeping around castle walls and strong, don’t-make-me punch-you-in-your-suit-of-armor heroines, try email@example.com
Mary Goldfish writes Western Romance-if you want realism, you’re guaranteed to get saddle sores by the time you finish one of hers. (Sorry to all of you rolling your eyes. Authors would probably make up their own taglines.) Again website inserted.
Well I think I’ve presented the picture. Yes, I would send readers to other writers. Why would I do that? Because I have nothing to offer them, and I know they’ll be back, if they truly liked my writing and my stories. How would I know that? Because the writers I send them to would have my website at the bottom of their pages. I might even send readers to writers who haven’t reciprocated with my website. Not Nora Roberts or a gazillion others like her. What do they need with my endorsement? Too funny.
Even if there were fifteen or twenty writers in a specific group, the reader will have read everything they have to offer well before I complete my next story. A book it took me three to six months to write and polish to a point of making me proud, takes the reader three to six hours to read. The best I can do in six hours is about six pages.
The only people this so-called competition can benefit are a few unscrupulous writers, who think they will sell more by under minding other writers; and publishing companies, who are probably patiently waiting for our little self-publishing world to implode.
How could that happen? Loss of credibility in the eyes of readers. Not just because of a sorted, writer competitiveness, but other issues we face, like garnering reviews by what most would consider unethical means. But that discussion is for another blog, as it is in fact a serious issue, and no one is going to address it unless self-published writers do.
We are already struggling against the negativity of self-publishing, each of us trying to show the reading public they don’t necessarily need to go to a traditionally published work to find excellent entertainment.
As self-published writers we don’t have huge publishing companies behind us. We have to deal directly with the crass business end of things; I just hope we’ll be careful with that. To accentuate that we’re all just in it for the money, while the traditionally published world is viewed as the literary scholars, can only harm credibility.
I’m sure to many it sounds idealistic to suggest finding a group of writers willing to, shall I say, pass around readers, as I’ve suggested. It isn’t something that would happen overnight, any more than the trusted friendships and camaraderie we established in our private writing communities.
I’m personally more willing to struggle down that path than the path of soulless competition. I sincerely hope that mentality doesn’t escalate and remains with the few.
Where competition is concerned, I can be sure of only one thing. There WILL be other writers’ names at the bottom of my webpage.
Happy writing, fellow writers. I hope every writer you meet, in and out of self-publishing, sees you as comrade and not competitor.
(All comments and opinions are welcome.)
*** BACouture is an accountant living in Wisconsin but trying desperately to move back to her home state of Vermont, where she intends to live close to family, enjoying the rural, pristine setting, while reading, writing, and hopefully publishing. She likes to travel and loves animals beyond reason.