Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 8

PART EIGHT: Your Competition

Who is your competition? If you write paranormal romance, that would be every book on the (physical and cyber) bookshelves that include romance or paranormal characters. If you write memoirs about 1950s housewives, your competition would be every other memoir about the 1950s and every fiction about the era. If you write cookbooks, it’s every chef, celebrity or otherwise, who finds a publisher. If you write erotica … okay, now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and erotica is a good place to start.

If you’re thinking “Oh hell, my book is better than any other book in my genre,” you could be absolutely right. But think hard. Are books the only competition you’ve got? I mentioned the cyber bookshelves, and e-books are something to seriously respect. If you’re writing them, the battle for visibility is growing as fast as the e-book market.

But really, who IS your competition?

WARNING! SHOCKING SPOILER!

There’s a lot more competition out there than you think. Let’s take the genre for erotica as it will clearly demonstrate my point easily. (Stop grinning like that, this is serious stuff.) Okay, quiet class and listen up. If you write erotica in any form, your competition includes:

  • Erotic books
  • Erotic compilations and collections
  • Erotic E-books
  • Erotic magazines
  • Porn magazines
  • Free erotica and porn on the internet
  • Erotic and porn videos
  • Erotic and porn movies
  • Erotic, porn and fetish clubs
  • Erotic, porn and fetish toy stores

Now, let’s take this a step further. This part no longer applies to simply the erotic genre. This applies to ALL writing genre, mediums and resources.

Now … really … who IS your competition?

DOUBLE WARNING! EVEN MORE SHOCKING SPOILER!

MONEY. Yes, money. As a writer you need to be very honest with yourself as to who your competition is and where it comes from. These are trying financial times – as is clearly evident by the current condition and shaky landscape of the publishing industry. And not just this industry either. No need to list the tough reality of unemployment and struggling finances everywhere. What this means to an author is that the few dollars a person has to spend will be carefully delegated. If an average person in these tough times allocates $100 per month for entertainment, where might that hundred bucks go? Dinner in restaurants? A night at the theatre? Netflix? An amusement park? Museum? Maybe it’ll be saved up for a vacation. How much of that “entertainment” budget will go for books?

Obviously the expenditure on books has dropped drastically. Considering the contents of your own wallet, how many books have you considered, how many have you actually purchased and why?

This is where knowing the shifting paradigm of the market is important. The reason traditional publishers do not promote an author (unless they’ve already proven Best Seller status) is that they simply can no longer afford it.

So, what’s a new or mid-list author to do? Understanding that our competition is a book written in the same genre is sure enough to make us write a better book. Knowing that we’ve got competition for our genre on the internet, from e-publishing and a dwindling entertainment dollar is even more important. Now what? Back up and punt?

No silly. Now that you have taken pencil and paper and clearly outlined not only every obvious competitors you have but the not-so-obvious ones too, it’s time to get to work and plan a strategy to truly compete.

Step back and take a deep breath then think it all through.

Which authors out there are successful? What are they doing? Do you like their promotions? Events? Blogs? Websites? How do they compare with yours? Are your efforts as many? As strong? As effective? How long have you been building your platforms? That could be the problem. If you haven’t been active much until you thought maybe it was time … it was way past time. Your platforms – both author and book – need to begin EARLY.

Competing isn’t fair at all. Everyone doesn’t just show up on the field of play and end up glorious winners. Think muscles. Think strategy. Think Maximus the Gladiator. He had a few things going for him, like knowing how to fight, long before he had to face his enemy in the Roman Coliseum. The arena looms girls and boys, and there are hundreds of competitors, big and small, waiting to cut us out of the game. The only way you can make competition fair, is to be as buff as your toughest competitor.

Now, hit the gym and get your platforms big and shiny. The world awaits your success!

PARADIGM WARRIORS

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions

writerchef@sbcglobal.net

Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future

Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson

Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles

Lesson 3, How Long

Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform

Lesson 5, Target Markets

Lesson 6. Your Exposure Plan

Lesson 7, Your Promotional Plan

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About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years. View all posts by Deborah Riley-Magnus

3 responses to “Author Success: A Well “Business Planned” Future, part 8

  • yearzerowriters

    This is a great post for getting writers to think smart and savvy and businesslike, but I think, at least for the first half of the post, the opposite is true. I certainly don’t see the other books in my genre as competition. I see the absolute opposite – if someone reads another writer’s book in my genre and loves it that makes them MORE likely to buy my book than they were beforehand. The competition isn’t the other writers, it’s 1. apathy towards my genre (only for people who WOULD like it, of course – there’s no point trying to conert those who aren’t going to like my book anyway – that’s fighting windmills) and 2. ignorance of my genre or my place in it. My fellow writers are my allies in the battle, not my competitors.
    Dan

  • Deborah Riley-Magnus

    Thanks for stopping by, Dan.

    With regards to YearZeroWriters I totally agree with you. You are breaking ground and finding new ways to write, communicate and explore language, and your books are more like specialty products than the average genres. For the rest of us, we do compete for a coveted genre place on the bookshelves and in the hearts of prospective agents, publishers and readers. For example, everyone will always compare Stephanie Meyers’ sparkling vampires to Charlain Harris’ southern speaking vampires to Annne Rice’s hard core dark vampires. Comparison is competition … and I believe it’s what makes us all better thinkers and writers to compete.

    On the other hand, the second half of the blog applies just as strongly to your particular writing style and creative hybrid genre as to any other book written. You are competing for the book buyer’s pennies.

    I never worry about you writers over at YearZeroWriters though. You certainly are unique,extraordinarily talented and great fighters! Go YearZeroWriters!

    Deb

  • Kayelle Allen

    While I agree that other writers are competition, I also agree with Dan that they’re my allies. I have never seen another business where each “competitor” was so actively involved in helping others succeed. It’s one of the things I love about the entire publishing/writing industry. When we help other authors, their readers become aware of us. Association is a powerful thing.

    This article is a good reminder that we can’t rest on our laurels or count only on ties and visual awareness to sell books. We must actively find ways to increase our market share.

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