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.
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.