I recently did Cogs and Corsets, a steampunk themed convention in Bloomington, IL, and there was one other author there. I watched all day as people stopped at her booth, bought books, and didn’t give mine a second glance. There could have been a dozen factors that caused that, including the fact that I was at my wife’s booth and my books were included in the overall jewelry display she had going on. I didn’t have my own separate table featuring just me. Part of me was a little bitter about how little attention my work was getting, while that author across the hall was getting sales. That’s normal, human. But, I reminded myself, we aren’t competitors.
That may seem like an odd thing to say, but, while we are all selling books we aren’t all selling the same book. Amazon and Barnes and Noble are competitors, but authors are not. We are selling different stories, that will appeal to different markets. There’s a chance the other author at that con was selling stories with steampunk themes, and that’s not something my books have. We aren’t trying to sell better hamburgers, stories aren’t measured on the same scale.
It’s not always easy, but this is something we authors should remember. We want to sell our books, but we have to avoid the idea that someone else selling theirs is a missed sale for you. That person may not be your audience. They may like the other book better to start with, and pick yours up when they’re done with it. There could be a thousand different reasons one author is selling better than you at a show. Next time you may be the one getting all the attention. It’s normal to feel something about that, but try not to let that feeling turn into bitterness or hostility toward another author. In the end, we’re all just trying to tell our stories to people who will listen.