Two weeks ago I wrote a post (“In the Company of Writers“) about my journey as a writer over the past ten years. I created a list of the things I have learned, and included the following:
- Success of others doesn’t diminish your chance of success. It improves it.
Two of the comments questioned that statement, and so I thought I would explain, or try to.
The easy answer is that being around success you learn how people create their “luck”:
- When you have a friend who gets a story published, you learn about markets, and niches, and submission processes.
- When you know writers with agents, you hear how they made that happen. You take a look at a query letter that worked, and you learn. You hear stories about rejection, and you take heart. And perhaps you have opportunities to meet agents in the process.
- When you have a friend who has a book published, you learn by watching her go through the process. You learn about proposals, contracts, deadlines, timelines, editing, copy edits, Goodreads, ARCs, blog tours, book launches, metadata, Amazon rankings, and B&N lists. And you gain knowledge in advance of needing it, which is always helpful.
- Authors need teams to help them market, and to offer support. So you pass out book marks, drive to signings, and clap loudly at panels. And you find that talking about your friend’s work is easy, and fun. And again, good practice.
Luck requires hard work. Seeing other people navigate the waters of publication, your path may become easier. But probably not. It will just become clearer, and a lot less scary.
But this philosophy is about more than learning. It is about self preservation. There is room enough for everyone, and success is defined a lot of ways. But discontent in the form of “why not me?” creates room for jealousy, which soon turns into full blown envy. And this isn’t a good place for writers to live.
Instead, be happy for the success of others, especially for your friends. Raise a glass over every contract, dance when they get a book deal, weep when they get on a best seller list. Ride on the wake of their success, cheering all the way. If nothing else, it is a lot more fun.
“A rising tide will lift all boats.” — John F Kennedy
J.A.Hennrikus writes mysteries, and blogs with five friends all in varying stages of launching new series over at Wicked Cozy Authors.