This is going to be brief, because I have paying work to do. (Always a good and bad thing. I like paying my bills, I do. I also like working on my novel. Well, priorities.)
Anyway. I’ve seen a lot of discussion here or there about how authors are not in competition with one another. And I see the point in the argument. If one person publishes a book (J.K. Rowling) and it explodes and attracts a lot of new readers then that benefits all writers.
Readers will go looking for other writers to give them a similar experience and publishers will be able to take more risks on newer writers or newer ideas, etc.
However, I think that argument is also wrong. I lurk a lot and one of the forums I lurk is the write one/sub one forum of AW. There are three threads in there that I pay particular attention to: Braggage, Middling It, and Rejectomancy. (I think that’s their names–too lazy to check right now.)
So, recently someone posted about getting into a themed publication and asked if anyone else had, too. Well, one of the other writers on the board said they’d made it to the final round, but hadn’t made it in. You can’t help but think as that writer that if the person who did make it in hadn’t submitted that maybe your story would have made it.
Or, for example, last year I applied for a writing workshop and was waitlisted. Well, I can’t help but think that the person who applied on the last day of applications and made it in is part of the reason I didn’t. Obviously, my writing wasn’t as good and I wasn’t as advanced in my “career” as they are, but…if that person hadn’t been an option for them to choose, then maybe I would’ve made it.
So, I think when it comes to novels, maybe the “you’re not competing with one another” theory holds true. But for short story publication, workshop applications, and awards, it’s a bit of b.s. Because most of those only have so many spaces available.
Of course, the solution is to up your game to the point that you’re so damned good that it doesn’t matter who else is submitting because you just blow everyone else out of the water.
Piece of cake, right?