Are Writers Colleages or Competitors?

I love that in the publishing industry, fellow writers are not competitors but colleagues.  Unlike in other industries where people fight for market share, there seems to be a different vibe among individual writers.  Yes, there’s competition at the publishing company level, but between the actual authors, there’s a sense of community unlike any other I’ve seen in a professional landscape.  I think that’s largely because writers don’t feel like they’re competing against each other to grab a reader for themselves.  If a reader likes a fellow writer’s book, there’s no reason why they won’t want to read another book, especially one in the same genre.  And books are a relatively inexpensive commodity.  Many books can be purchased by an individual.  It’s not like a sports car or a diamond ring, where a typical buyer only purchases one.

I’ve personally found writers to be a community that supports one another, promotes each other’s books, and offers help/ideas/guidance easily.  I see this first-hand through a multitude of venues:

1) On twitter: where it’s fun to direct message an author you like and they actually write you back.  It’s so easy to become friends with other writers and to interact in positive ways on social media.  For instance, just in the eight months I’ve been active on twitter, I’ve already found a few well-known authors who agreed to read an ARC of my upcoming book and provide an endorsement.  How nice of them is that!

2) In the Washington DC area there’s a group of published and “soon to be published” authors (“DC Writers Mafia”) who band together to attend book signing and meet for coffee to discuss writing.  Many of them have generously offered to help promote my work, and I love doing the same for them.  I’ve so enjoyed their conversation and insight on writing.  I even asked the group for ideas on an e-book launch party and received a slew of advice regarding venue, menu, etc.

3) SCBWI–I’ve attended a few of their conferences, and each time I make friends who then join me on social media to stay in touch.  At the annual conference in LA, I actually found a critique group too, and those people were like my good luck charm.  I can’t say enough about them–all the support, encouragement, and honest critiquing we’ve provided each other.

4)  The other group I want to highlight is the band of authors through my publishing house, Entranced.  These people bend over backward for each other, helping promote each others’ blogs, swapping author interviews, and even running writing scavenger hunts on the web.  The latest multi-author promo coming from Entranced’s YA label, Rush, is a Halloween scavenger hunt.  It runs Oct. 25th-Nov.1, features over ten authors who all donate an item toward the final prize and whom will all join the blog tour.  This is such a cool idea and should be a lot of fun for book lovers.  More info is here:  http://yarush.com/2013/09/30/rushhunt-its-coming/

Yes, I’ve heard horror stories where writers will provide negative feedback on another writer’s book, just to bring down their Amazon rankings (a practice that is highly discouraged and monitored by the company).  However, I think that’s the exception, not the norm.

What is your take?  Have you seen competition among your writer friends?  Or is it more of a friendly community?

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