In a late-stage capitalist society, competition is king. It consolidates the number of large publishers from six down to five (and maybe even four). It turns the news organizations into branches of multimedia conglomerates.
Through all this, normal people are expected to espouse that greed is good, that the only duty of a company is to make money for its stockholders. We are expected to buy into the philosophies of business with every aspect of our lives. Only one movie can be at the top. The same goes for music, for television, and for books.
And to that, I say no.
If those competitive-minded notions were true, then I would be required to exclude other writers from my activity. I would be an idiot to share my thoughts and opinions to help others refine their work, even though the same mindset would have me scavenge every idea and insight from others. Competition works in many senses and in many places. I simply suggest that it doesn’t work with artistic pursuits.
One of the most stable and successful independent writers I’ve met never hard sells his work. In all honesty, I’ve never seen Eric R. Asher sell his work. He spends his time befriending readers and telling them to buy other people’s books. Eric knows the logistics of his business and shares his insights with others. He’s a geeky reader like so many of us. That’s not just branding, it’s honesty.
I don’t see him undercut others. It’s not his way.
Hell, the most brusque writer/publisher I’ve ever met, John G. Hartness, is a dynamo of politeness and cooperation, even when he gets someone’s attention and says, “Buy my shit.”
The adage that points at the actual state of artistic endeavors, including those that make money for their creators: A rising tide lifts all ships.
If I write a book that does well, I know I’m slower at writing than most people. Will my readers sit around aimlessly as they wait for me to finish writing? No, they’ll find something else to read while they wait.
My closest friends call me “the crack dealer” because I’ll point them toward things to read. Those recommendations are never mine.
I don’t do this to undercut myself. I do it to share joy and excitement. I do this because I look at my fellow writers, able to tell them the truth.
I am not your enemy.