Writing: It’s Not a Competition

I was a complete newbie to the publishing world, desperate (just like the other 40 or so writers present) to find an agent. Instead I found fellow writer Roberta Gately, who was even shorter than me—and probably even more determined to get published. Her no nonsense attitude drew me in immediately, and we kept in touch once the conference ended.


Two years later, Roberta was one of the first people I told when Oliver’s Surprise found a home with a publisher. And even though she hadn’t yet found a publisher for Lipstick in Afghanistan, she was so ecstatic for me she called with congratulations. Her genuine enthusiasm taught me something extremely valuable: we are NOT in competition with our writing buddies.

Fast forward another two years, and I got a reciprocal email from Roberta: Lipstick would come out the following year! She also invited me to join a fledgling Writer’s Promotion group based in the Boston area. Though it was a bit of a hike from Rhode Island, I attended several meetings—and was thrilled to be included in planning sessions for the book launch parties of Randy Susan Meyers, Holly LeCraw, Juliette Fay, and Iris Gomez. I’m looking forward to a few more when Nichole Bernier and Kathy Crowley launch. And hopefully we’ll see another book from our token male, Chris Abouzeid, one of these days, too.

I’ve learned a ton from these generous writers, and hopefully I’ve provided a little knowledge (at least about sailing) in return. And this week I was thrilled to be the guest author of a post on Beyond the Margins, an excellent source of writing and authorly information (spiced with humor) created and maintained by several in our writer’s promo group.

Watching my blog post appear and reappear on several social media sites throughout the day served as a series of reminders: this is not a competition. For those of us used to measuring our success in racing terms (winning, on the podium, top ten, top half), it’s a big adjustment to realize that more books is more better. Yes, someone may put down my book in a store and choose another to buy instead, but if my book has done its job, that same buyer will be back to claim it on the next shopping adventure. The more we support each other, the better we all do. A rising tide of enthusiasm lifts all (sorry) authors.

And it’s also a whole lot less lonely when you’ve got writing buddies.

So thanks to everyone who has tweeted, friended, plussed, or just plain BOUGHT my work. In the words of another friend who is also an excellent writer, “We sail on together, we sail on alone.”

Carol Newman Cronin