Competitiveness. Let’s Not Talk About It

The other day, I got into a little spat with a couple people in a Facebook writer’s group. Someone announced that they had just published their book. There were a lot of congratulations, but there was one woman who felt the need to edit this person’s post. Yes, there was a typo in it. But it was clear this person hit the comma on their phone instead of the spacebar. No harm done, right?

The fact that she called him out on it wasn’t really what bugged me–it was the fact that her own post had a typo in it. All this poor guy did was post he’d published a book. That’s all. So why the need to attack him? I usually let this stuff go, but the fact she did it with a typo herself made me jump in.

typos_LI (2)

But like all good catfights, it didn’t end there:

i'm going to hell_LI

Did you notice that the person corrected her typo? I wanted to tell her that correcting her typo didn’t make her comment any less bitchy.  The person correcting my comment was someone different, but I like to think I got the upper hand there, too. Know your grammar before you begin correcting people, or you’ll just look like a fool, and yes, it is damaging to your online presence.

I’m trying to figure out why people need to be so callous. It came to me in the shower (where all good ideas do).

We jump on each other because we’re insecure and jealous. These people probably haven’t published anything, and they felt threatened by this person’s announcement.

Does that make it okay? No of course not, but I think it does point out something no one likes to talk about: competition.

Writers support each other, that’s a given. When we’re writing.

But what about when we’re trying to sell our books, novellas, shorts? What about when we try to market our blog posts?

There are only so many publishers/agents/bookshelf space to go around. Whether we like it or not, we are competing for prime real estate.

So when we feel like people are “ahead of us” in some way, be it a new marketing trick, or what????!!!!!! . . . they just put out another book? It can feel disheartening, and it can make some people, not very nice frustrated.

But you know what? It’s okay to have those feelings. We all feel them. Yes, I support all my writer friends; yes, I want their books to sell.

But.

I want my books to sell, too.

Maybe, maybe you can even admit, you want your books to sell more than you want their books to sell.

You can admit that–in a dark little corner of your soul. It’s okay. It’s natural that if someone is choosing between your book and someone else’s you want that person to choose yours.

But it’s what you do with those feelings that matter.

Don’t: attack people online; in the end, it only makes you look bad
Don’t: not write because you feel it’s hopeless
Don’t: stop supporting your friends because they make you feel inferior with their progress or sales

Do: turn those feelings into productivity and work harder
Do: trudge through those feelings and support your friends anyway (Jennifer Probst has a wonderful section on this in her book Write Naked which you can find here.)
Do: keep those feelings to yourself, or confide in someone you trust who won’t turn on you or blab behind your back.

The guy who was put down in that thread PM’d me to thank me for sticking up for him. I have been known to stick my nose in a few places where it doesn’t belong because I’ve been on social media long enough I don’t give a f*ck what people think of me. If I see nastiness, for the most part, I’ll call you out. There’s no need for it. We all have one goal: for people to read our work. Being nasty online is counterproductive to that. You can bet I’ll remember those two women, and if they ever publish anything I’ll look the other way.

Speaking of memory, I remember Rebecca Thorne posted a little something about this during her experience at the Dallas Writer’s Conference in 2016. Must have stuck with me to remember a blog post from over a year ago, and you can read it here.

After I defended my use of and at the beginning of a sentence, I left that group. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life–and I certainly don’t need to waste my valuable time defending idiots who just won’t get it anyway.

You can be supportive and still want to do well for yourself.

And for those other two, karma’s a bitch, baby.

karma

 

Let me know what you think!

Vania Blog Signature

8 thoughts on “Competitiveness. Let’s Not Talk About It

  1. You definitely won. The irony of calling out a typo with a typo is delicious. I might have just responded:

    *great

    As a rule, I always let writers know when I see typos, but I do it in a private message like an actual human being. Except, obviously in a case like this, where a “taste of your own medicine” seemed apropos.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, that’s an amazing memory! I totally forgot I wrote about that way back when. 😛 Thank you so much for the pingback!

    Your words have real merit! This year, I went to a writers conference in Denver instead, one called Colorado Gold, hosted by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. The crowd attending leaned a lot older, and that competitive undertone was nonexistent. My theory is that DFWCon was mostly people in their late teens and twenties, people my age who haven’t experienced enough success to be confident in their failures. Whereas the older crowd at Colorado Gold was a gorgeous mix of published and unpublished, and the published authors were so, so excited to share their knowledge to the hopefuls. It was such a supportive atmosphere!

    I work as a flight attendant and deal with difficult people all day long, so I believe it’s important to do just as you did, and acknowledge WHY their anger manifests in nasty comments. It helps distance me from the rage and regard them with a level-headed attitude. 🙂

    Ultimately, writing is tough, and the publishing business is brutal. But there’s no reason not to celebrate your fellow writers’ successes. Even before I signed with my agents, I always RTed others’ announcements. Like you said, it spurred me on, reminded me what I was fighting for. 😀 That’s a much better attitude than cold, angry thoughts and spewing hatred.

    Nice job with this post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, and you’re welcome. I know there’s competitiveness everywhere, but in the end, it is better to build someone up rather than try and knock them down. I’m happy to hear there are supportive people out there! I went to a conference in CA over the summer, and there was nothing but supportive writers and workshop leaders there as well. I try to be as kind as I can on social media–I believe everything you put out there will boomerang back at you. Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you’re right. In that particular case, I think the offender was puffing her chest. “If I point out his typo, everyone else will think I am incapable of typos, therefore they’ll take me seriously as an author and buy my books.”

    But that’s not what happened. She looked like an ass. If I knew who she was, I would also look the other way when her book(s) is up for sale.

    I really do want my author friends to have success. Obviously I want success for myself as well, but I don’t let that desire for personal success allow me to harbor a shred of resentment when one of my author pals do better than me. I am pragmatic enough to know that I’m not perfect, my writing has flaws. I don’t have as much time to write as some friends. I’m not the best at social media–because I’m not a naturally very social person. I’m next to clueless with marketing. If my friends are doing better than me it is because they’ve figured out something I haven’t…which just makes me want to learn from you, not hate on you. Lots of people do a lot of things better than I do, and there are some things other people feel I do better than themselves. Such is life.

    I don’t understand the predilection to want to tear a writer down, publicly or otherwise. It comes across as sophomoric and in no way helps someone’s image…something something about stones and glass houses.

    Great post, Vania. I hope some people take it into consideration before they bash others–most especially when they have no work out of their own.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hate all the negativity. I just don’t get it. Even if we ARE in competition, it should be done in a lighthearted way. In the end, many of our book sales come from OTHER writers. Why should we be hating?

    As always, your words hard so true. Thank you for sharing, and I admire you no F’s given of what others think of you.

    Liked by 1 person

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