Just Say No: Comparing Yourself Against Other Authors

Nominations came up for UtopYA last week. I’m beyond thrilled for my author friends and while I was not nominated in any categories, I can’t wait to celebrate with them the night the winners are revealed. I am SO excited to attend UtopYA and finally meet some of these girls in person. They have been my rocks through the last couple of years of the self-publishing adventure and I am so glad they are being rewarded with accolades.

That being said, I have a confession to make: I let the green-eyed monster get ahold of me.

The thing is, it’s not about being better than those nominated authors. Those authors are AMAZING. Many of the folks on that list are my friends and I know how hard they work to accomplish their goals. When I admit jealousy, I don’t mean to say it’s because I’m better than anyone else. I don’t believe my writing or stories deserve more attention than theirs – the envy doesn’t stem from that. It’s more of an internal frustration, at the idea that I’m not doing enough. I get mad at myself for not being more. You’ve probably been down that path once or twice.

I began to wonder what I was doing wrong.

If my marketing campaign was a mess.

If I wasn’t reaching the right people.

If my writing sucks.

If my books weren’t good enough.

If I wasn’t good enough.

It’s a dangerous game, comparing yourself and works to other authors. Even if that author is a terrific writer, you look at what they’re doing and wonder what you’re missing. Why don’t I have more Facebook fans, why don’t people retweet me more, why I have so fewer reviews than an author who hasn’t been on the block as long.

I’ve been in that place a lot lately, feeling sorry for myself. Maybe my sales slowed down or I don’t have nearly the amount of reviews that I’d like or insert reason here. Whatever it may be at the moment- you know how it is. Sometimes you just get in a funk. It’s a crappy cycle. I won’t let it get me down for too long, but eventually I’ve gotta shake it off and get back to my own work. You can’t compare yourself to other authors. There are too many factors, both internal and out, that have to do with why your work is or isn’t doing well. Many of my friends have made writing their full time gig, so I shouldn’t be surprised or frustrated when they have ANOTHER book release (where I mutter a lot: I mean damn, didn’t they just release one like two months ago?! How do they do that?!).

And like I said before, the other authors are fantastic. I’m thrilled they were nominated and are doing so well. They are my friends, peers, and in a sense, colleagues because of our like-minded community. Their goals and dreams are no less than mine, but their situations are not mine. Plenty of them write full time, but they also have kids and crazy schedules. Some of them DO have full time jobs like me, and still push through the chaos to get another book written. As for me, I make writing a priority, sure, but I also have a high demand job that sometimes wears me out to where I can’t stand to look at a computer anymore. Some days I choose to go home, accept the writing block, and watch a movie instead. That’s my choice, no one else’s. There’s no one to blame.

Then again, why is there blame? Because I’m an overachieving Hermione Granger? Partially, yes. I’ve always been hard on myself, especially when things don’t happen the way we expect them to. It’s human nature. It does not mean I’m a failure. As I’ve said on multiple occasions, I am my own worst enemy. I only have myself to answer to and I have the power to push myself into getting more books out. Readers and reviews motivate me, yes, but it’s my ass in the chair, fingers on keyboard, that make the book happen. I’ve attended enough webinars, conferences, and Facebook group conversations to know I’m doing the right things. It’s just a matter of staying on the path. 

How do you sell books?

Put more books out there to sell. (As in, keep writing, dummy.)

How do you get better at writing?

Honing your craft with each new endeavor. (I’d also add listening to your editor and reading lots and lots of other authors. I happen to know several good ones!)

Okay, so maybe I didn’t get nominated for an award. So what? Does that change my goals or dreams? Nope, not even a little bit. Why should I let it get me down? If you’re in a similar boat, I say we give the green monster about ten minutes of our time – and then move on, because no amount of envy in the world will get you what you want. You have to go after it.

I always tell people that in order to be successful, we must take initiative. Don’t sit back and let things happen around you. The harder I work, the more books I put out, maybe then I’ll gain more traction. In any case, I have to keep reminding myself, I already have some pretty nice traction! Solid reviews, good friends with better advice, and plenty of plots swirling in my brain are enough to keep me going. A break is okay – a sulk-fest is not. 

If you have time, go vote on your favorites for UtopYA winners. I might be a little green around the gills, but I’ll be damned if I don’t stand up and support my fellow writers. Because in the end, we’re all in this together.

Time to go get a new chapter written. And then another, and another, until I have another completed book to put out into the world. As for awards? Maybe next year. Maybe never. But awards or no, that shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love. Thus ends the pep talk. 

3 thoughts on “Just Say No: Comparing Yourself Against Other Authors

  1. Jade says:

    I’m a little late to this post, but it was totally what I needed to read today. I’ve totally been in this comparitis stage for a while. It’s such a buzzkill to the creative process and such a hard habit to break once you spiral into it. It does help to know that I’m not alone, however. That other, wonderful writers struggle with it too. Let us all help each other out of the nonsense.

    Thanks for sharing this, even if I am a couple months late to the party 😉

    • LizLong says:

      I know we already emailed, but I just wanted to say thank you for your kind comment. I am so glad to know that we are not alone! I’ve totally had comparitis and am glad to say that most days, I’m able to shake it off and move on with my work. There are readers for everyone and with such an amazing support group that is this community, we are bound to succeed if we keep up the hard work. Talk to you soon!! 🙂

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