Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Envy - To be jealous of another and desire what is theirs.

We all get a little jealous of others sometimes, but what harm can envy do to an author?

You've just published your novel, you're pretty happy with it, but it falls somewhat flat upon launch. You hit the online stores and notice that everyone's reading another book in your genre, one that you've read and didn't think was all that special. You wonder what it would be like to have that success, to see your name at the top of the bestseller list. Soon that wonder turns to envy, you can't hide it any longer, you want what they have and what's more you downright deserve it.

The first problem with author envy is that it's often accompanied by a feeling that the person you're envious of got lucky. The truth is, they probably didn't. They may have carefully cultivated a fan base on social media in the run up to their launch, they may have shelled out of their own pocket for marketing and promotion. The fact that people seem to like their book can't be attributed to good luck, after the first handful of 5* reviews it gets a lot harder to keep the ratings that high artificially.

The problem with envy is it can lead you to fixate on the wrong thing, sometimes it's tempting to study the successful author in detail and read their books over and over again looking for the secret. After all once you've found their winning formula you can copy it and reap the rewards yourself. Except of course you can't, you'll be a year too late with a blatant rip off of someone else's story or structure!

If you change your writing style, or genre, to fit what someone else is having success with, you'll likely write a worse novel than your first attempt. Sure you should experiment with genres and styles, but out of curiosity and not petty jealousy. Success is dependent on many factors, not all of which are inside your control, so make sure you focus on the things you can control, good characters and good storytelling.

Next time you feel yourself getting envious of another author's success, let it spur you on, to work harder, work smarter and write the next book to the best of your abilities. The most powerful marketing tool is word of mouth, and the most powerful writing tool is your own imagination.

“The views expressed in this article do not represent those of and any inference to books or authors past or present is purely coincidental.”


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