Authors! Who is your greatest competition? Bet it’s you.

Pen & Notebook 7

So you published a book and it did pretty well. Congratulations! That is amazing. Look at what you did! You have already surpassed thousands of others who said they were going to publish but never did anything with that dusty manuscript. Now that you have settled in to being a published author, have a marketing plan and can breathe again, what next?

Thoughts of doom. We all go through it. Why is this author so much more popular than I am? Surely it cannot be looks. Have you seen this guy/girl? Hairless chihuahuas are cuter. Is their book better than mine? Is my book too closely related to what they published? Should I take it down and edit it again? NO. Then it will be more like so and so’s book.

There comes a point when most of us authors sit and obsess. We obsess over facts, figures, sales, prices, copies, covers,blurbs, promotions, reviews, fans, etc.

You know what else we obsess over? Who our competition is. If you are a horror author, you have heard of Stephen King.

Write vampire novels? You’ve heard of Twilight.

Legal thrillers? Who is this John Grisham guy?

So here is my point. Yes, I have one. What happens when you realise that the other major players in your genre/category are not your biggest enemy? What happens when you figure out that after publishing so many novels, you are the one you are fighting with?

This happens. Usually not with the first few novels, but eventually you will publish that one that leads you to success. Whatever the definition of success means to you, it will most likely happen eventually. It could be that this is the novel you have been waiting to write your entire life. It finally came out just as you wanted it to. It might be that this is the one that achieved the sales figures you were hoping for, or even far surpassed them. So, now you have had the success you were searching for. Again, congratulations on your determination and ingenuity.

Next logical question. Was this a fluke? Will it happen again? How much of it was luck?

If you always put immediate pressure on yourself to surpass the last thing you accomplished, will you even be able to write anything else? There have been some fabulous one hit wonders in the writing world. There are also a lot of authors who have some really infamous books and some that people would rather forget…again with the Stephen King.

So what do you do when you get to this point? You are now afraid that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to beat out your own talent. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

Keep writing. Sounds simple, no?

You will never know what you are capable of until you try. You have already surprised yourself at this point, now do it again. Seriously, (John that was for you,) who cares if someone (even if the someone is you) doesn’t think this new work is quite as good as the last? What works for other authors who put out two or three (or more Nora) books per year and have found the key to success? They keep writing more books. They are progressive. Some of them are not as well received as others, but they keep writing.

Getting wound up in the idea that you have already written the best thing you ever will write serves no purpose other than to give you an early death from stress or shoving pencils up your nose while watching the cursor blink. Challenge yourself to a duel. Think of it as a contest rather than an impossible mountain you can’t climb. Kick your own arse.

Just Write. I say it all the time. It is still true. Just Write.

113 thoughts on “Authors! Who is your greatest competition? Bet it’s you.”

  1. I think these concepts are true for all aspects of life, doesn’t have to stop at writing. We really are our own biggest enemy and the sooner we can get over ourselves I think we can accomplish much more than we thing we can. (Just my thoughts). So go be a swoosh and just do eeet! πŸ™‚

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  2. Excellent advice, Ionia! Sometimes we need to be reminded that writing, whether we think it ends well or not, is an art that must be practiced and practiced. True, some are naturally wordsmiths, but even those guys and girls need to practice. Just get those ideas out. Flesh them out, see where it goes. That’s the fun, to see where your ideas lead you. Thanks for sharing! β™₯

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    1. Thank you Eileen! I wish more authors and new writers would worry about the present instead of focusing on the outcome. So many wonderful things come out when they do:)

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  3. definitely enjoyed… I’m not looking to publish… in fact gave up on that 20 years ago… so my competition is very much with myself… I hold my standard next to a few greats (Sorry Ionia Stephen King is not one of them…) I am challenging myself to write at a level that would be considered literature and not mere fiction… whether or not I am successful I do not know… For the record I am writing a romance, but I’haven’t read one in twenty five years and that was when I actually investigating writing books for Harlequin and cards for Hallmark… Back then some of my efforts drew comparisons to Danielle Steele who I’ve heard of but never read…

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    1. Do you follow Misha Burnett? He and I were talking about the fact that we know absolutely no male romance authors yesterday. I didn’t even think about the fact that that is what you are working on. Duh, Ionia.

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      1. I don’t know if I follow her or not… I’m following about 200 blogs maybe more… in the late eighties early nineties Harlequin paid $500-2500 per story and bought the rights outright so I didn’t do it… I think that while I classify my story as a romance I also see it crossing a few genres… but in general it is a story about epic love…

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      2. I guess there isn’t too many male romance writers out there that are willing to admit it… πŸ˜‰ and my apologies to Misha… I meant him…

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      3. at the moment I am mostly writing from the boy’s perspective perhaps a 80% 20% split, but that is because of the way the story needs to develop… besides the idea is mostly to put the reader in the role of the female’s emotions through inference… I don’t know… it’s difficult to explain the effect I’m trying to achieve… I am trying to do something unique… I’ve also had to adapt to accommodate my writing process which isn’t agreeable to long form prose… though I still don’t edit and when I do write it is stream of consciousness

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  4. I needed to hear this today. Been wondering about spending my time and thoughts in fantasy land or the real world. Fantasy land is my real world right now. I am by far focused more on writing than Nursing, but sometimes I feel guilty. I haven’t taken but one Nursing assignment for the entire month of August, and only took two this month, and picked up two more. Flu season is coming up and there will be tons of flu clinics ( I do the immunization clinics too) posted and I don’t wanna…I wanna write!

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  5. I couldn’t agree more, Ionia. The only option is to keep writing, and writing, and writing. Well, I like to think you need to look at the market and see what readers are reading, but all the market knowledge means nothing unless you keep writing, and writing, and writing. πŸ™‚

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  6. I’m here, getting ready to comment about what a fabulous way with words you have and are a motivating ‘arse’ kicking influence, when all of a sudden I get caught up in the comments. It took me a good five minutes to remember what I wanted to comment! BTW, you have a fabulous way with words and are a motivating ‘arse’ kicking influence… πŸ˜€

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  7. You are so right, Ionia. In anything, we can be our own worst enemies. The only freeing path is by doing what we love, doggedly, in spite of the voices in our heads.

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  8. I have an advantage of a very slow publisher so I still can’t say I am a published novelist. I am at 73,000 words on the next and I have in mind the next after that. I guess I will stop writing when they pull my keyboard from my cold dead fingers. ( I use at least two fingers that is) Thanks for verifying (since I look up to you) that I am doing the right thing

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      1. Yes always three lines. 17 Total syllables. 5 in the first 7 in the second and 5 in the third. There are a bunch of rules, but for now you can get started with this info. Here is an example:
        Fire and Ice

        She burned me inside, (5)
        The shivers started to rise…(7)
        Fire then Ice got me.(5)

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      2. No problem. I don’t have all the rules down. but I did get a book which spells out the types of poems and rules. I’ll tell you who knows this stuff. Kira.

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  9. Best advice ever- just write. Stay out of your own way. Great post!

    (P.S. “Challenge yourself to a -dual-.” duel. Just a πŸ™‚ heads up.)

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      1. I had no idea from the writing in your posts! πŸ™‚
        Your English is better than a lot of people I know. Again, this was a great post! Thanks for sharing.

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  10. How did you get to be sooo wise? This is wonderful advice…then again you always give good advice πŸ™‚ I am not published, but I agree that I just have to keep writing – no matter what, I have to keep writing!

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  11. We in the Hairless Chihuahua Guild are aghast. A yap out to you, soooo wise indeed. My ambition is to be known for my ellipses…and self-esteem…well….that can…wait…along with…I’m starting to channel Celine.
    Later…

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      1. Blank pieces of paper
        The unknown caper

        Scream at me to write
        And yet I have no fight

        put down a word it dares
        Defiantly focus on other affairs

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  12. Like a dog with a bone……one more try.
    πŸ™„
    (If this doesn’t work it’ll just look like this ol’ dog is rolling over or playing dead, one or the other).

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      1. That’s a negative on the bowel movement.

        My focus is very defiant today.
        No PB writing going on. Can you tell I’m ignoring this and my children who are on holidays? They’re all still here though. πŸ˜‰

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      2. Poop! Crap! Shit! No I don’t have Tourettes.

        I’m stealing your poo so I can fling it around.

        I should have known that you would be that awesome you’d have some lying around the place.

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      3. For now I have to go and make chocolate crackles. That’s on the back of a picnic lunch, 3 rounds of hide and seek and 4 loads of washing.

        This crap is a neverending love story.

        I’ll be on poo patrol later.

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