Hi, all. Suze here. Welcome!
A couple of weeks ago, I learned a new word! And I’m about to use it in a sentence.
If you want to succeed in the writing business, don’t be afraid of cooperatition.
What’s cooperatition, you ask? Well, clearly it’s an amalgam of cooperation and competition. I’m crossing the border into Jennifer Fusco/Market or Die territory, here. The theory is that if two individuals/businesses are providing the same or substantially similar services, if they work together both will benefit–even if they are in competition with each other for the same customers. Ever hear the expression A rising tide lifts all ships? Same principle. Need a movie reference to understand it better? How about Miracle on 34th Street, when Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimbel send customers to each other’s store if their own doesn’t carry a requested item? Good will abounds and sales go through the roof. As Charlie Sheen might say: Winning!
Make no mistake: Writers are in competition with each other. But it’s much more subtle than, say, the rivalry between Pepsi and Coke or Microsoft and Apple. Writers compete with each other for spots on a publisher’s roster, for the attention of an agent, and for readers who have only so much time and so much money to spend on books.
But readers are the most wonderful kind of repeat consumers. They don’t buy/read just one book a year. And if readers see that an author promotes other authors and behaves professionally and enthusiastically toward them, they will think better of the writer for being a decent person who loves her craft. Theoretically, that translates into sales. As a consumer, I don’t buy products from jerks if I can possibly help it. And that goes for books and authors too!
Here are some ideas for practicing cooperatition with other authors with whom you share a readership (or potential readership):
- Partner with someone. Example: Kristan Higgins and Jill Shalvis and their Facebook Man Wars. If you’re not familiar with Man Wars, check out these two authors on Facebook–once a week or so they choose a theme (men in uniform, Australian guys), post pictures of the hottest possible guys, and write funny, sexy captions. And they’re usually zinging each other in a friendly way. This technique promotes their brand (romance and hot guys) and engages readers with new content all day long–with nary a sales promotion in sight.
- Promote other authors–especially those with products similar to yours. Offer congratulations on Facebook and Twitter when a colleague hits a bestseller list or releases a new book. Leave positive reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you. Even if they don’t, you’ve still put a lot of Macy’s/Gimbel’s-style goodwill out into the universe–and the universe tends to notice things like that.
- Assemble a group of authors into a partnership that is about more than sales. Example: Jungle Red Writers bills itself as “The View. With bodies.” These mystery/crime fiction authors often talk about timely topics in a panel-type format. I think it’s brilliant! Yes, their books are mentioned, and links abound, but there is plenty of non-sales content as well. Another example: Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen. These writers of culinary mysteries post new recipes every day–again, promoting their brand and providing new content for readers. And if readers like one author’s books, they’ll probably like–and buy–the others.
What do you think about cooperatition? Do you have any ideas to add to the list above? We’d love to hear about it!