WARNING: Pointless blog entry. Do I even need to say that anymore?
A little bit of truth telling: I can like you, and still be jealous of your success.
I have to remind myself of that sometimes, because I’m known to get a little envious. Success itself, of course, is something of a misnomer, because different people define it in diferent ways. For some, success
is writing a book that wins perfect reviews. For others, it’s writing a book that wins prestigious (and perhaps not so prestigious) awards. For yet others, it’s all about the sales. And for some, it’s a matter of all three. It depends on your goals, your notion of success, and how fragile your ego is. (And writers, by and large, are a lot famously known for their fragile egos, and/or their pathetic self-esteem. Count me in that latter group.)
Indie authors support one another. We offer peer reviews, we offer ourselves as beta readers, we vote for each other’s books, we applaud when someone writes 3,000 words in one sitting and publishes their eighth book. We give praise to other writers when they win awards, when they get a 5 star review, and when they break the top 1,000 in Kindle sales.
And well we should. It’s how we build community: by offering support, because at some point we’re going to expect some in return. We purchase other Indie books, somehow expecting that favor to be reciprocated. We offer words of encouragement, in part because we really care (we’re all human, after all, and I’ve developed many true friendships with other members of the online Indie author community), and in part because we want those words to be there the next time that we need them, because, face it, we all need it from time to time.
I believe in community, in helping others, and in building a support base that is useful both to myself and others. I see nothing wrong with admitting that. It’s like the notion of helping others selflessly. Do we ever, really help other selflessly? I mean really? No. Helping others likely gives us some sense of personal satisfaction, either from knowing that we are a good and selfless person or that somebody will be better off because of something we did to help them. We may not be asking for a reward or even for recognition, but we’re still, ultimately, getting something out of it. So, then, are we really acting selflessly?
The same goes in the Indie author community. If I promote your book, chances are better than not that I want you to promote my book, too. Fair is fair, right? And yet even though there are quite a few Indie authors whose books I promote in plain site who could care less about returning the favor, I do it anyways, even though I know they’ll never getting around to noticing or caring that I do so. Why? Maybe I get a sense of personal satisfaction knowing I’m doing something they’re not. Maybe I wonder if there isn’t someone doing the same for me, only I don’t notice them. Maybe I’m just stupid.
Writers are human beings. We want to be noticed (often in spite of ourselves), and we want success, even though most of us are actually afraid of it. That’s why I’ll admit this here and now: if you’re finding success as an Indie author in ways that I’m not, chances are I’ll be jealous. I may resent you. I may even decide I don’t like you, just a little, and just for a little while. It’s nothing personal. I really do want you to succeed. I don’t offer empty praise, and I won’t buy your Indie book even if you buy mine unless I think it looks good. I’m supportive, but I have my limits, and I hope you do, too. If I offer your book a good review, if I say congratulations, if I vote for you on some awards website, it means I really DID like your book, I really MEAN congratulations, and I really DO think you deserve that reward. I don’t make empty gestures. I’m sincere, even in the way I support you and our Indie authors community.
And that means I can admit this: sometimes, I get a little jealous. And just because I get jealous doesn’t mean I don’t want your Indie book to do well. I WANT it to do well.
I just want mine to do well, too.