You want your fellow authors to be successful.
You even want books similar to yours to do well.
And it’s not just about creating good karma.
It makes good business sense, too.
Some would have you believe that the way to thrive in the competitive publishing business is to play the cutthroat game and slam the competition. Unfortunately, you can find stories of a few big authors and publishers slamming one another, not just recently, but even going way back. You can also find gossip about more underhanded activities.
But that’s just foolish.
And again, it’s not just because it’s not nice. Economically, it doesn’t make sense if you take a moment to look a few moves ahead.
Highly similar books usually sell together. Some customers buy them all at once. Some buy one today, another in a month, and another a few months from now.
Similar books help one another out through customers-also-bought associations. They also help one another out through word-of-mouth referrals because they share a common target audience and people within that audience do discuss books they enjoy.
When you buy a book online, Amazon recommends similar books. When you visit your homepage, again Amazon recommends similar books.
Foolish authors look at similar books and think, “Oh no! That book looks good. It might take all my sales.” The immature reaction is to slam the competition.
And shoot yourself in the foot in the process.
Most likely, that book won’t take your sales. Most likely, that book will either (A) help your sales or (B) not affect your sales.
When customers really like a book, they want to find more books similar to that.
But there is one way that similar books can take your sales. That’s when you succeed in hurting that book’s sales.
Then, instead of that book’s sales helping your book out through customers-also-bought associations, it’s hurting your sales by not sending traffic your way.
When authors slam one another and a lot of the competition, it creates a bad vibe for the whole set of similar books. It hurts sales for everybody.
Similar books are free marketing for you. Other authors’ great content and effective marketing helps you through customers-also-bought marketing. You don’t need to do anything to benefit from this except continue writing your own books, developing your own author platform, and marketing your own books.
Applaud your fellow authors and watch them help you without even trying.
Act on your jealousy and watch you hurt yourself.
First of all, your efforts to hurt the competition may actually help the competition because you’re giving those other books more publicity, even if it’s negative. And you have to credit people, who can often smell a rat.
Second of all, you don’t want to hurt the sales of similar books that can only help you out.
And what about those amazing authors who break through and make it big time?
Does that make you feel all jealous inside? Do you look at those books critically and think how childish the storyline is, how poorly edited the book is, and completely miss the big picture?
Applaud those authors. If you self-publish, applaud the indie authors who succeed. They’re helping to make a great name for indie authors. They’re reaching hundreds of thousands of readers and showing them that indie books can be amazing.
If you self-publish, you want other indie authors to be successful. Their success builds a large audience of readers who are willing to take a chance on indie books. That helps you.
It’s not just indie author success. It’s any author success. Any author who makes readers love the reading experience creates future sales for many other authors.
There is no indie versus traditional battle. What’s most ridiculous about that is the increasing number of authors who publish both ways. Should they punch themselves in the face?
There is just one battle. That’s you wrestling against yourself, your emotions, and your irrational instincts.
What’s good for readers is good for all authors.
And if there are readers who enjoy a book, that book is pleasing readers and therefore good for all authors, including you, whether or not you approve of that book.
Way to go, Amanda Hocking! You made a huge name for yourself. You made a huge name for indie authors.
Way to go, Hugh Howey! Way to go, E.L. James!
Way to go, Stephen King! Your great works have hooked millions of readers not just on your books, but on the love of reading.
Way to go, J.K. Rowling! Way to go, Anne Rice!
Way to go, all authors, big and small, whose books have pleased readers.
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers