April 17

To succeed as an author, change your view of the competition

    We’re always wary when we hear that someone else is writing in our same subject area. We almost can’t help the knee-jerk reaction in our minds, “What if that writer beats me to publishing? What if his book or article gets published and not mine?” We tend to think there is some sort of cap on attention that can be given to a particular subject.

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    I follow two personal/professional development authors, both of whom I deeply admire: Michael Hyatt and Don Miller. They usually have very different things to say about life and business, but both have a passion for encouraging people to create a life plan.

    Michael Hyatt has been talking about releasing his Life Plan book/course for months, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating it. Then, I just received an email from Dan Miller that he is ALSO releasing a life plan course.

    What was my internal reaction? Oh, no, I can’t buy both?

    No way, I was ecstatic! I can’t wait to buy both! I’m interested in creating a life plan, so of course I want to know what both of these these authors have to advise about creating a life plan. If they offer similar advice, I’ll feel doubly confident in following the advice. If they offer divergent advice, I’d be eager to combine their advice to suit my needs best.

    End lesson? As a consumer, who has limited time, attention, and money, I will happily buy two different books about the same topic because it’s something I’m highly interested in the subject.

    How would your view of competition change if you assumed that your potential reader would happily read many books, articles, and posts, all on the same subject? I would challenge you that if you want to succeed as an author, you need to radically change your view of the competition and embrace an mindset of abundance, rather than one of scarcity.

    Competition is not the enemy. Competition creates a marketplace that is good for both the seller and the buyer, the writer and the reader.

    Competition pushes you to work harder on your own material.

    Yes, there’s no way around this truth that having other writers in the same field as you will push you to differentiate your writing, to create powerful prose, and to be clear about why the reader/publisher/journal editor should pick your work over someone else’s. It’s time to get better at your craft, simple as that!

    Competition means there’s a community of writers with whom you could connect.

    Imagine looking for a writing group – a group of people to share ideas, accountability, successes and failures – but never finding anyone who writes on the same topic as you? What a profoundly lonely experience that would be.

    Luckily, that’s not going to be a problem for you because I can pretty much guarantee there’s a whole slew of authors out there, writing on the same subject as you. Stop looking at the competition as simple competition, and instead start finding potential friends, colleagues, even co-authors among them.

    Competition means there’s a marketplace for your writing.

    Just like my eagerness to buy a similar book from two different authors, when more than one author can publish in the marketplace, it means there are people looking for articles and books on that topic.

    You write on global inequality in Latin America? Yes, I’m sure other people do, too, but luckily for all of you, there are journals and magazines and sections of book stores devoted to that topic – and there are readers ready to buy!

    Learn to celebrate the competition’s success.

    If someone else publishes an article or book on your topic, don’t sigh in frustration and assume that your writing has less chance of being published. Instead, celebrate that author’s success. Look up her email address, and send her note of congratulations. Find his website, and leave a comment on his blog about his book.

    You’d be surprised how embracing a mindset of abundance opens doors for you. You’ll make connections with other writers that will serve you well, agents and publishers prefer to work with collegial authors, and readers easily become endeared to authors who come across as confident and successful, rather than competitive.

    In the end, you are your own competition.

    Can I tell you a harsh truth? Other people are not preventing your success as an author. You cannot blame another writer for stealing your “spot” in the published world or taking “your idea.” It’s tempting to blame others, I know. In the end, though, you are the only person who can sabotage yourself, and you are the only person who can push yourself to succeed.

    So, what do you think?

    Would you send a fellow writer who’s part of the “competition” an email of congratulations and well-wishing? Leave a comment below to let me know!


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