How Do You Feel When You Hear of Another Author’s Success?

I caught some interesting statements floating around the blogosphere from my author friends recently at the news that Janet Evanovich signed a four-book deal with Random House. She had been with St. Martin’s for years and has been selling her “Stephanie Plum” mystery series like hotcakes. She’s hot. No doubt.

My first reaction was, “Yay” and “Good for her.” I like it when an author hauls in the big bucks. It gives me a good feeling with regard to the reading and publishing worlds because it means people are reading and interested in books. So that’s why it surprised me to see some authors feeling a bit ticked off. As if Ms. Evanovich’s deal somehow takes away from their potential book contracts.
You know what? It doesn’t.

Writer Envy

One author said, “Why doesn’t she spread the wealth?” Meaning that she should have taken less money, I suppose. But why should she? Evanovich taking this deal doesn’t mean the average author is now going to get less. It doesn’t mean aspiring authors won’t get a book deal.

I think it comes down to professional jealousy. Authors are prone to it sometimes. I suppose that we toil for years and put our hearts and souls into our work, so when we get rejected we get crabby. We feel as if we are getting the short end. Then, to make matters worse, we hear about the success of another writer and it just gets in our craw.

The Success of One Writer Helps Us All

Here’s the thing I’d like to say to my fellow writers. I am one of you. I understand what it’s like to get a book rejected, to have a client tell you “no thanks,” and to see my fellow writers getting opportunities I wish I could have. I understand where you are coming from, but when a writer succeeds at the level Evanovich does, you’ve got to take your hat off for her. She’s earned it. It doesn’t matter if you, personally, don’t read her books. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a “better writer.” The writing world is changing, and that means each and every writer needs to be supportive of the others in this game. You won’t sell less books if you are happy for another writer. You won’t lose fans if you publicly state you enjoy the work of another author.

More than that, with all the changes in the publishing industry today, writers need to support each other. We need to build each other up, because in the long run, it makes the entire publishing industry stronger. And that helps all of us.

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2 Comments on "How Do You Feel When You Hear of Another Author’s Success?"

  1. Well spoken indeed! I like to call it “reaping what you sow.” A person who is genuinely happy for the success of another will receive some of their own.

    I’ve not read Janet’s works, but I do love a good mystery, so I’ll have to check her out. Thanks, Cherie!

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    Cherie Reply:

    I like the thought of reaping what you sow. Very true.

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  2. We should all wish success on creatives in our field, for karma and for keeping the industry going so we can reap rewards too! But it is easy to be jealous, and to feel that one’s success takes a chance away from you, even when it doesn’t.

    This summer I met a painter in a small town in New Jersey who was making a good living at his work. Other painters in his community were becoming jealous of his success, and when he had a gallery show to promote his last two years’ worth of work, not a single one of them came to his opening night reception. We all need to try not to be small with each other.

    [Reply]

    Cherie Reply:

    Great points, Patrick. And what a bummer about the painter! I feel bad for him and that situation. It frustrates me when I see people act like this. There really is enough for everyone, and by supporting each other we will get so much more out of it in return. Unfortunately, I know what it’s like to have a friend either ridicule or get jealous. Not fun.

    [Reply]

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