Someone said in a Facebook authors’ group that hey, we were all in competition with one another.

Yeah, no. That’s zero-sum thinking, and it does not quite work with books and stories — especially now. It’s 2019. Books have shelf life.

Scarcity is not ubiquitous

Yes, some things are governed by scarcity. For example, people buy maybe one house. They either buy this one or that one. (Let’s not discuss the superrich who buy several houses.)

People buy a car every what, 5–10 years? So yeah, they’re either going to get the Camry or the Outback, the 911 or the M4. Those brands compete with one another for everyone’s business—except perhaps car collectors who buy a lot.

Books are not scarce

Readers buy books all the time. Rare is the person who says, “I shall buy one and only one book this decade!” No, readers buy more than one book.

And if they really like one, they want to read more like it.

Authors supporting other authors is not just some touchy-feely thing

There’s business logic behind it. Why?

Because other authors are part of your sales funnel

If you write lyrical adventure, and someone else’s lyrical adventure is getting some good buzz and sales, the readers who just enjoyed it are going to want more. If you write kinky queer fantasy, and someone else’s kinky queer fantasy is selling like sparkly rainbow hotcakes, those readers are going to finish that book jonesing for some more. If you write hard-edged feminist space opera SF like I do, and someone else’s book along those same lines is topping bestseller lists and winning awards, the readers of that book are going to finish and be looking for more.

And then they see your book.

Every successful author — especially those working in your subgenre — makes your book that much more appealing. Readers always want more of what they like.

And on the flip side?

If readers hate a book and throw it across the room in disgust, and your book is in the same subgenre? Well, you figure it out.

It’s not a zero-sum game. Scarcity economics don’t apply. We’re putting out entertainment, and if there’s one truth about entertainment, it’s that people always want more of it. If you can’t see that, that’s your loss. I wish you all the best in your competing, because you’re only hurting yourself.

(This, by the way, is why the tragic puppies are so tragic. They see only one dog dish. Poor puppies!)

Photo of adorable little white puppy running towards us
There are never too many puppies! Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash