Saturday, September 25, 2010

An abundance of competition

I wasn't sure if I should post this or not, but hey...someone has to say it.
The competition among authors for readers is rough, and getting rougher!

I'm not a competitive person, except with myself. Give me a challenge and this little Capricorn will rise to meet it or die trying. So, my way of beating out the competion is to write the best book I can and promote the heck out of it. But these days, is that enough?

With the advent of ereaders becomming common and affordable, print authors are competing with e-authors. And with so many places offering free reads, eauthors are competeing with anyone who has a computer.

How are we to survive?

Our fans. Fortunately there are still people out there who will pay for a book by their favorite authors. It's because of them we write. It's because of them our publishers get paid and can pay us.

Now, here's a story I heard that made me so mad I'll have to say my mantra a few times after I type it. I wasn't there, so I can't verify its validity, but the woman who told me about it attended this author's speech and I think she's a trustworthy source.

She said the author she was listening to was a well-known NY Times best seller. What she said was "If you don't cut your competition down with rotten anonymous reviews, you don't care about your career."

Excuse me? Huh? What the...

I do care about my career--very much, but I have never done that and never will. This is one instance in which the word 'never' is appropriate. I believe in Karma and I wouldn't want that woman's Karma for all the publishing money in the world!


Seriously, are we that desperate? Just the thought of that makes me want to cry. I love what I do and I want to be able to continue. So, what do I do? I reward my fans. It's all I can think of that will help me, them, and the industry without compromising my ideals.

That's what my contests are about. I not only have contests to gather new fans, but I run contests on my yahoo loop to reward old ones. I may not give away books since many of them have zillions, but a pretty scarf, a pair of nice polarized sunglasses to save their precious eyes...anything I can afford is worth it to thank them for their loyalty.

If anyone has an opinion on this, I'd be delighted to hear it.


  1. Brave of you to pass along this anecdote, and it is scary. I write romance because I believe in love, hope, trust, the good things in life. Scarcity thinking is the opposite of abundance, and as a romance reader, I know scarcity thinking is laughable. If my keeper authors wrote a book every week, I'd find the time and money to read them. I get that much precious sustenance out of their work. The low down, scared, sneaky rotten mean-spirited will always be with us, but in the romance community, I hope they will always be the tiny minority.

  2. Ashlyn, I think that person's wrong. To me, the more writers succeed, the more readers there are. For example, Linda Lael Miller's wonderful, rich cowboy stories paved the way for my contemporary Westerns, and writers like Laurel K. Hamilton paved the way for paranormals. In my experience, other writers have been incredibly supportive. So hopefully that's just one person and the rest of us don't think like that!

  3. You both have great points. If I thought this was the norm, I'd be gone. But you're right, there will always be fools among us. All we can control is our own behavior, so that's what I'll do.

  4. Absolutely agog at that comment. My stance is the same as Joanne's. For readership, you want to promote other authors. Especially the authors that write similar books. Hence the: If you loved so-and-so, you'll enjoy "this title". Reading begets more reading. Books aren't mutually exclusive so that competition model is a little bit off the mark. Plus, I think recommendations tend to be heeded more than negative reviews are likely to drive readers away. Okay, that last sentence sounded awkward, but I hope it makes sense!

  5. HI Jeannie,

    That makes perfect sense.

    As we speak, I'm hosting another author on my yahoo loop for a monthly chat called Favorite Author Friday. Only this month we had to have it on a Sat. since the author works full time Mon through Fri. (Yes, I have to sneak over here when I can. Shhh...Don't tell.) The point is, I'm a reader too! I like recommendations as much as the next reader. And this is my way of promoting excellent authors, the genre of romance, and give my readers a chance to share their faves. (Besides me.) There are lots of awesome authors out there and the more of them I read, the more my own writing improves.

  6. Hmm, you mean I've been doing this all wrong? I actively write reviews on books I love on Goodreads. I love reading, and in fact was going into withdrawal on the way home from work today, because I'd run out of audio books to listen to and you know what I had to do??? Listen to music! Now, don't get me wrong. I love music! But I've become addicted to "reading" on the run. :) And I'm thrilled to share my love of reading with fans and friends alike. :)

  7. I love finding new authors and reading fantastic books. It always makes me want to read more and enhances my own writing.

  8. I love audio books too, Terry! Especially if the reader has a British accent. Then I'm so hooked!

    I used to go to Goodreads a lot, but I've stopped recently because of some of the overly harsh reviews.

    My momma taught me if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. I won't rate a book at all unless I can give it at least 4 stars.

  9. Hmm, yes, and Scottish accents!!! I get so wrapped up in listening to them, that I miss hearing some of the story! :)

    I agree with you. I honestly love the books I review. If I don't, I don't review them.

    It can come back to bite you.

    An author was at a signing with me--she doesn't read or write romance. She doesn't read or write paranormal. But she wanted to see why I was selling so many books, I guess. So she bought one and said I was a very nice author, but hated the book and gave it a 1. Now, we all read books we hate. They're not to our taste. But why make the effort to tear apart a book like that and post it to the world?

    She has since joined our RWA chapter.

  10. Oh, Terry,

    That's so wrong! One can only assume she's not looking for friendship. RWA is so aupportive, maybe they'll striahgten her out and she'll take down her review.

  11. Well, that comment explains a few things. I hope most writers don't feel that way or none of us will sell any books!

  12. I'm going to put the best possible spin on this and decide that this means all my bad anonymous reviews are from jealous writers and not readers who just think I can't write! Since anyone who does that kind of thing isn't worth my respect, it doesn't matter what they say.

    Seriously, though, I've seen this sort of thing happening and it makes me sick. It also has an evil twin - readers who write bad reviews on books by people they dislike as a petty revenge.

    I always wonder about one star reviews. I figure that any book that has no major errors and some kind of plot line deserves two stars just for getting that much right, so the one star reviews always seem like nastiness to me.

  13. That author's comment does not surprise me in the least. I know for a fact, and I mean FACT, that many of the bad online reviews I have gotten are from jealous not-yet (I hope never) published authors. And who know, maybe even some published ones!

    Like you, I will never do that. I don't believe in karma, per se, but I believe in decency and morality.

    Thoughtful post, Ashlyn.

  14. --> "If you don't cut your competition down with rotten anonymous reviews, you don't care about your career."

    Seriously, what's her damage? I honestly can't believe people want to live out their days being this disgruntled and unhappy.

  15. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today everyone. I feel better for venting.

  16. Hi Ashlyn, Sorry I'm late, but I was at my son's football game, then to town and groceries. I can't believe this person said such a rotten thing. How awful. It is competetive but we don't get anywhere by slashing someone else. I think we need to stick together, support each other and shout out when we find a good book.

  17. Sorry I'm late chiming in.

    People who think they will prosper by tearing others down--they don't have to go to hell, they are already there.Imagine how they must live in fear believing that other people are like they are.

    Terry, as for your slasher acquaintance who joined RWA. Good luck to her. I think it's Donald Maas who says that romance, more than any other genre, cannot be faked. You can get the formula just right, but it won't work because it doesn't have heart.

  18. As a reader I think my intelligence has been insulted. How much credibility does she think we give comments/reviews signed "anonymous"? Whenever I see something signed "anonymous", it's always negative. I have always thought of them as cowards (not a writer with a ploy) and can't get past that to even remember what they said.

  19. Wow. Being a debut author I guess my lenses are still rose-colored. I sometimes forget how many petty people reside in this world. This just makes me sad. That the person would publicly admit to doing it and encourage others to do the same, is plain stupid. All I can say is karma is a bitch. You're going to get your comeuppance one day, whoever you are. You can't lift yourself up by bringing others down. When you do that, you're still on the same level you started and it's pretty low.

  20. I'm a little late to the party here, but I have to agree with everyone else. There's always one rotten apple in a bushel.

    I was talking to Christie Craig at Nationals, and she told me that whenever she has a fan wishing she'd write faster, she tells them to buy my books. She says if they love her books, they'll love mine. I've been doing the same thing since I've read her books. She's wonderful, so supportive, and just an incredible person.

    I'm so thankful that most romance writers I know are more like Christie than like that anonymous NYT Bestselling author. Sigh...

  21. I think that some people are under the mistaken impression that criticizing others makes them appear superior. In truth, it only serves to make their own insecurities obvious. I often wonder what kind of terrible self-image, what kind of horrible life, what awful thing happened to them to make them so miserable. And I feel sorry that life's challenges have twisted them in such a way.