Sunday 28 September 2014

A Competitor Gets a Publishing Deal

Signs of a problem: competitor becomes an insufferable hypocrite.

The symptoms: jealousy; anger; hypocrisy.

One moment your competitor is banging on about how proud he is to be an indie author. The next thing you know, he’s accepted a three-book deal with a major publishing house. You’re outraged – how could that sly hypocrite turn his back on indies and, more importantly, why did it happen to him and not you?

Take a moment to think this through. You are an indie author during the height of the indie book boom. You have full control over your content, your cover, your pricing and so much more. Do you really want a publisher messing with your hard work? Do you really want a publisher taking a tidy cut of your profits?

If the answer is still yes, then perhaps you don’t deserve to be a totally splendid hotshot author. You need to believe that you and your trusted band of freelancers have what it takes to woo the world. If you feel you need a mainstream publisher to do that for you, then you have lost your mojo.

Yes, publishers have their advantages – covering set-up costs, having existing relationships with bookshops and having contacts in the press, but they are not the be-all and end-all.

Remember, you are an awesome book-making machine. You don’t need an endorsement from a ‘big five’ publisher to validate your talent.

Your competitor has simply proved that his work fits what his publisher happens to be looking for right now. Often that means a book is about a fashionable topic, can be easily classified into one genre and is the right length for mass production. Yes, getting a publishing deal suggests that your competitor’s work is of a certain standard, but that doesn’t mean that your work isn’t.

Now that your self-esteem is returning, let’s get on to what to do about the smug and smarmy competitor.

Firstly, do not let him know that you’re jealous. His sense of superiority depends on being envied by others. Repeating your indie ideals may look resentful. You must congratulate him whilst expressing no opinion on whether or not you would like the same fate. You need to find the balance between “Each to his own, mate” and “Wow! You’ve reached the Holy Grail.” I suggest, “Well done. Hey, did you see the game last night?”

That will drive him mad.

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