This is the first in a series of writing tips. Some you’ll have heard before—I hope—while others may be new to you.
Writing Tip #1: Don’t let the success of others bring you down.
This should be obvious, right? Well, it isn’t always that simple. Are other writers in your critique group finding agents and hooking traditional publishers? Are indie authors you know selling 10x the amount of books you’re selling? Sometimes knowing others around you are succeeding can hurt, especially when you’re not doing so well. But does that mean you should hate them or resent their success? Absolutely not.
Turn this around and learn from these other writers. Maybe they can help you achieve the same success. Or maybe you’ll even surpass theirs. You never know. Writers develop their writing at different rates. That doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the other. Plus, a lot about this industry is—I hate to say it—luck.
I see it all the time. A fantastic manuscript is rejected not because the editor didn’t like it but because the editorial team felt the story was similar to something they purchased, or they already have enough paranormal romances for the year. Whatever the reason may be, it’s not always about the writing. Sometimes, it’s just plain luck that the other author happened to get her story into the publisher’s hands before you did.
Or maybe everything seems to be on track. The editor loved the story and wants it. Maybe the marketing team is on board. BUT then, the editor leaves the publishing house, and her replacement just really isn’t into your story. Bad luck. Had the previous editor stayed on a little longer, you would’ve been set. Instead, the project is rejected.
I’ve seen writers become very bitter over the success of others. To the point that if they get rejected from a publisher, they seek out books published by this publisher and give the books bad reviews, even though they’ve never read any of them. I’ve seen writers get pretty petty over things and, in the end, it all boiled down to jealousy. They weren’t getting the same breaks others received, so they felt cheated.
Don’t allow this negativity to consume you. Instead, learn from the experience. Are these other authors doing something you aren’t? Are you writing the right genre for your natural talent or are you just trying to hook an agent with the going trend? Should you be writing in third person instead of first? Should you add or delete POV characters? How is your writing? Does it still need work? Do you need a writing coach to help you take your story to the next level? Are you on the right path? Should you go indie or traditional?
Instead of focusing on your failures, turn this around. What are your strengths? Use them. And be careful how you treat other writers, online or not. It’s a small industry. You don’t want word to spread about how negative, jealous, and resentful you are. Sometimes bad publicity is bad for your reputation, and this is one of those times.
While it may be hard to see others succeed as you struggle, you can make this a positive experience and learn from it.