Collaboration Not Competition
Thank God for spell check. Full disclosure here: I can’t spell collaboration to save my life. Or at least I couldn’t before today. Up until now, every time I typed it, I came up with a different mishmash of letters that were just…wrong!
Enough of that. I’m going to warn you, some of this post might be a little touchy-feely-emotional and woo-woo. Let’s see how that goes. As this is a blog post, I haven’t much planned out what I’m going to say beyond: don’t be a dick!
Okay…there might be come language today.
This post wanders all over the place, but stick with me. I have a point.
Frankly, this is a very difficult subject after recent events; the irony being that I planned the topic over a month ago.
So let’s talk about this subject. Mostly, today’s post goes out to writers, though most everyone can apply the concept to their lives. In the long run, playing nice with others gets farther than being a backstabber (I’m ashamed of the swear words I just had to edit out of that).
I’m not saying that you’ll sell more books if you help other people. You might. You might not. You are more likely to have someone help you if you help them. It doesn’t always happen. I share and promo other people’s books all the time. Do they return the favor? Some. But I don’t do that to get a payback. I do that because this market is big enough for all of us, and I like to share good books and good authors.
I had a different point here, too. What I’m saying is that backstabbing doesn’t just hurt the intended victim. It hurts the person doing it. There’s a toll taken, and even if it’s secret and others don’t know about it, it’s not secret to the person doing it. It darkens the soul. And if the stabber has a conscience, their guilt meter will start blasting.
Hey, I warned you about the touchy-feely woo-woo in this post. Don’t roll your eyes at me.
Let me reframe and get back to what you were looking for in this post.
As a writer, you should be looking for other writers to collaborate with. I don’t mean co-write with. I mean a group formed to help each other get ahead, to promote each other—not, as seen this weekend, to take someone down.
(An aside: That was horrifying and disgusting. And that is the power of social media. It’s a power that should be used for good, not evil. Not for bullying. That was the dark side if Indie author world. So is the bullying of other authors to the point that they quit. Few of us are writers because it’s easy. If you care about that craft, it’s not always a picnic. But it’s a dream. So we pick up the pen, so to speak, and we scrawl out the words. When authors are bullied by other authors to quit, they’re not just quitting the craft. Their dream is extinguished. The flame in their soul extinguished.)
But Brynn, you might ask, if I do this for other people aren’t I hurting myself?
Do you have any idea how enormous the market is? How immense the reading population? How voracious most readers are? Feeding the hunger for good books will not harm you. In fact, it might keep your name in front of readers if you’re not releasing books regularly. It will also help you build friendship and positive alliances within the community. Trust me, you need that.
Have I mentioned this is a difficult subject to capture? It feels a lot like holding sand.
The concept is easy: help one another because we are on the same team and not competition.
What does collaboration look like?
Well, here are some ideas:
Be nice. To everyone.
Host people on your blog.
Promote other people’s book releases.
Talk about good books you’ve read on your blogs and/or social media. (Do not—I repeat DO NOT!—review books on Amazon or Goodreads. Amazon has a special hell for authors who review. While some might get away with it or have no problems, you do not want to be harmed by trying to do good this way)
Introduce new authors to your own followers.
Quietly, privately let an author know if you stumble upon something that might hinder their sales. i.e. typos or weird symbols in their cover copy listing on Amazon, etc. OR finding that Amazon has excerpted their entire book instead of just a small portion of the book (yes, I’ve seen this happen). And whatever you do, be helpful and kind, not smug or know-it-all in your note.
Have a list of authors you interact with (and always keep it positive). Comment on their social media posts, their blog posts. Encourage them. Don’t be afraid to grow that list of people (but remember: you don’t have to make it work. You don’t have to hit every single thing)
Important!!! Whatever you do, be genuine and do it without expected something in return.
Consider having a small group of people you cross promote with on the weekly.
Don’t make assumptions about someone’s success and deem them unworthy of your collaborative efforts (As Bria Quinlan pointed out in a timely live stream I watched the other day, just because someone looks successful, you have no idea how they’re actually doing. [That’s a paraphrase. I hope I got it close to right])
Be kind. I know this is a repeat and you might wonder what it has to do with collaboration. Just…well, no one wants to work with (be public friends with) someone who’s a…well, let’s go with “jerk”. (more swear words deleted)
Overall, remember: The only person you’re in competition with is yourself—you’re only competing with who you were yesterday!
*** Life is a journey, not a competition (attributed to many people, but is a widely used proverb that entered circulation around 1920)