Gag that Green-eyed Monster!

Okay. Hands up. Which of you has NEVER  felt envious of another author? Very few I suspect. And there is no shame in that. A healthy sense of competition is a good thing, in my view. As long as you keep some perspective.

I like to think my authorly friends know me well enough to realise that I am always genuinely chuffed when they do well – as I feel they are when a book of mine climbs the charts. But I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t think, now and again, ooh, how wonderful to sell your film rights or go to that amazing party – wish that had been me, as well as you…

And it’s hard when you’re an aspiring writer, to see pals get that deal when you are still struggling with rejection. And if you finally get published and then your book doesn’t fly to the top of the Kindle store like your bestie’s, you can question your own talent.

green eyed monster

But all of this is pointless. There are so many factors to do with how successful a book is, aside from the actual writing. Some publishers give their books higher prices than others and this can seriously affect their rank. Others may not design as eye-catching covers or do much behind the scenes to help market the story. And then every book needs a degree of luck to catch the reading public’s eye and no amount of talent will help you snare that.

Recently I read an interesting article about how Olympians are trained. I mean, it must be hard for any runner competing against the unbeatable Usain Bolt, for example. How do they keep the green-eyed monster under control and  not let it affect their own sense of worth – and, ultimately, their performance? The answer? Olympians are trained to focus soley on their OWN personal bests. Didn’t win a medal? No matter, if they ran a race and beat their previous record, these athletes and their coaches consider they’ve done incredibly well.

So, my advice – that I try to follow! – is simply to aim to write my next book even better. To research more effective ways to market and promote my work. To continue to expand my social media platforms. To avoid getting stuck in a rut creatively. To concentrate fully on my own career. I am super-pleased with the current success of my new novel, Breakfast under a Cornish Sun. I feel my writing has moved up another step and that – so far! – is reflected in some lush reviews and that means everything to me. Okay, so I may not have millions in the bank, like EL James – but who’s to say that might never happen, as long as I continue NOT to fret  that Idris Elba isn’t begging to play one of my two gorgeous heroes in a movie of my book?!

We may never be the next Stephanie Meyer or land red carpet events galore, but if we can look back in a few years and see how our readerships have grown and our writing has developed, I reckon that makes us winners after all.

34 comments

  1. Terri Nixon says:

    Absolutely – I once said to you I was glad we’re not in competition with one another, and I still feel we’re not – we’re in competition with our own previous books. And how cool is it that we can even SAY stuff like that?! 😉

  2. Sharon Booth says:

    What a great way to look at it! Totally agree, Sam. Sometimes it is hard, especially when we have so many other authors on our Facebook timeline! Never thought about how other athletes must feel, knowing they’re competing against such superstars, but that attitude is fantastic. On my Facebook friends list, I have writing superstars, and it’s pointless trying to compare myself to them, but my sales are improving with every book, and I’m slowly building a regular readership. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m feeling inadequate and low. Thanks. 🙂

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Thanks for popping by, Sharon – and it sounds like you are doing great. Yes, I found the Olympics sooo inspiring. For example athletes who failed to win a medal in 2012 but just got their heads down for 4 years and ended up winning in 2016. Great role models 🙂

  3. Sue Fortin says:

    I love the genuine support within the writing community and although we’re all writing books, we’re all writing in such different ways, you really can’t compare too closely. A book is such a team effort too and does involve a certain amount of luck for being in the right place at the right time with the right editorial input, the right blurb, the right cover, the right promo, etc. If only we could all bottle that luck… 🙂

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Well, you were certainly in the right place at the right time this year, Sue – if you bottle it, can I be first in line to buy, please 🙂
      Very true, though. There is just no point in comparing…

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Aw bless you, thanks Cass 🙂 Yes, I think the Olympian attitude makes a lot of sense. It’s a race against ourselves 🙂

  4. Ellie Gray says:

    Great post, Sam. As always, your advice is spot on and well worth remembering during those moments when we can’t help comparing ourselves to those wonderful writers out there.

  5. Shelley says:

    What a wonderful post, Sam. I was lurking around Amazon (as you do!) checking on my YA book sales, and I was feeling a bit blue that sales aren’t as good for these books as for my non-fiction, but then I remembered the beautiful messages I’ve received from the young girls who have read and loved them – it certainly puts everything into perspective. So, your advice is spot on – write the next book to be even better. In the words of Dory – just keep writing, just keep writing 😉

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Love Dory 🙂
      Yes, it’s the things like that that are really important, isn’t it? In years to come I’m sure it will be wonderful reader feedback we remember about each book, and not a specific rank or sales number x

  6. Chrissie says:

    I think that’s the best way to look at things. If you feel happy with your effort then you’re a winner. If you have readers who have enjoyed it, the feeling is great whether it’s a handful or thousands. It’s nice to live in hope of a best seller though!

  7. Bernadette Maycock says:

    Great, great post, and all so true, thinking about how others are doing can surely only take you away from what you’re doing yourself! That being said, when I was receiving rejections for It Started With A Snub and simultaneously reviewing books for my blog, I’d go to check who the publishers were and yes, sometimes I’d shed a tear (damn you hormones!!!). The other thing is one thing I always think is that nobody, nobody got a deal by just being who they are as some people like to rant, even someone who is famous had to sit down and face the blood sweat and tears that go with writing and edits, so it does really make better sense that people just support each other!:)

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Yes, I think we all have dark moments. That’s what unites writers, I suppose, we have all had to show determination and pull ourselves through the tough times, so perhaps that explains why the majority of authors are really supportive of each other!

  8. Rae says:

    So well put, Sam. I became quite upset when some commentators began questioning whether it was right to continue funding elite sport, the argument being that the money would be better spent at grass roots level. I’m as far away from a natural athlete as it’s possible to be, but I felt the dedication, hours of practice, sheer bloody-mindedness of the Olympians, even when they knew they didn’t have a hope of winning a medal, was an inspiration for everyone. Aspiring authors included! I agree I sometimes wish I could write as well as other authors, but I never begrudge another writer their success – it’s too tough an industry for that. Your suggestion of setting our own personal bests sounds a far more positive solution. Wishing you a bunch of golds! : )

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Aw thanks Rae, you too.
      It’s hard these days – we all seem pitted against each other from the off, with GCSE results being seen as so important etc etc… sometimes life can seem like one big competition. That’s why the Olympians’ attitude really inspired me – and hopefully will have inspired a lot of young people too. Thanks for popping by 🙂 x

  9. Sue Blackburn says:

    Brilliant post Sam and as always you put everything in great perspective.

    I guess it’s a case of being the best we can be isn’t it – which is of course how the Olympians think.

    And writer friends are the first to boost you up when you are down – and that’s got to be worth everything anyway 🙂 xx

  10. Linn B Halton says:

    Great post, Sam, and from the heart. Writing is such a solitary pursuit and it’s only through the connections we have with other authors and readers/reviewers that it makes our working existence meaningful. Any individual’s success in our industry means it keeps hope alive for us all ha! ha! Keep climbing those charts, lovely! x

    • Sam Tonge says:

      Aw thanks Linn – and back atcha. It is solitary and I really don’t know how I would manage without my online friends/colleagues! And like you say, their success gives us the belief that we, too, perhaps, one day, will also achieve great things…
      Thanks for popping by! x

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