It sure is a competitive world out there.
According to economics, that’s supposed to be great. Competition is the driving force that keeps the world working. If it wasn’t for competition, there would be no need for any innovation, and we’d all be paying far too much for all the things we need. Competition must be a good thing.
That’s all well and good in theory, but speaking from down in the trenches, competition doesn’t always feel so great. From the point of view of a prospective author, competition seems like a really tough slog. It’s a really crowded marketplace. There are so many other authors I’m competing against. So many books, vying for the attention of readers. What chance does little old me have of attracting the attention of the book buying public, when there are so many alternatives, many of them written by far better-known writers with massive followings and huge media platforms, social and otherwise?
It seems like I’m faced with a few different options. The most obvious one is to try and compete more vigorously. Try to make more noise, and jump up and down, crying out, “Look at me, look at me.” And doubtless, there’s a lot more I could be doing in this regard. I could be using social media in a far more targeted and strategic way. I could be spending more on advertising. I could be putting myself out into that heaving mass of authors, all sweating to get themselves a break.
Or, I could be doing something very different. I could be trying not to compete. Now this doesn’t mean I’m not trying – perish the thought. But what it means is, I don’t see myself competing against all those other authors. I’m trying to create books that set themselves apart from the great generic mass of other books. I’m not simply offering up more of the same, and then trying to attract attention by trying to shout more loudly than other writers. I’m trying to offer up something that’s completely different from anything else that’s out there. I’m trying to set up my own little generic space, where there’s nobody to compete with except myself.
This doesn’t make the challenge any easier. I still have to figure out how to get readers into that space I’ve created. I still have to make enough noise to make them realise that space is there, and it’s worth checking out.
So sure I’m competing. I’m shouting out for people to read my books, just like all those other authors. But I’m also not competing, because the books I’m shouting out about are all unique in their own special way.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as