Old refrigerator

How often do you need a new one?

At the Romance Writers of Australia conference the other day, Julia Quinn made a statement that quickly spread all over the writing communities on Twitter: You’ll never hurt your career by helping another author. It brings me back to something I have been meaning to examine more closely pretty much ever since I wrote my post on the things authors are charged too much for. In that post, I said that I wasn’t competing with other authors, and I want to expand on that idea.

Here’s the thing: a book is not a refrigerator. You cannot translate your experience selling refrigerators into book marketing.

A person who buys a refrigerator and finds it does a good job doesn’t immediately go out and go out and buy another refrigerator, and then another, and another. A book is more like a vacation. It’s an experience, and when people have enjoyable experiences they want to repeat them.

Did You Miss Me by Karen RoseFor example, I have a friend who likes cruises. Now, a cruise is my idea of hell, but she really enjoys them. She begins planning her next cruise the minute she gets home from the one she’s one. That’s exactly how I am about books. Let’s say I read a book by Karen Rose. I like it, so the first thing I do is immediately look for another book by the same author. But maybe I’ve read all her books (I have, as a point of fact). So then I look for something that will provide a similar experience. Maybe Lisa Jackson or Laura Griffin.  Or maybe I pick up a Dee Davis book, which has a more paramilitary slant to it, and decide I want more of that. Next up might be one of Tara Janzen’s or Roxanne St. Claire’s.

And, if I like Roxanne St. Claire’s romantic suspense novels (I do), I might try her contemporary romances. And if I like those (I do), I might look for more in a similar vein to them, only by different authors.

This is because I am your favorite customer, the serious reader. I read two or three books a week. I always have a huge number of books on my TBR list, but they don’t all suit a particular mood. If I am reading, say, zombies, and I want another zombie story, I don’t go on to the cozy mystery sitting on my TBR, I buy another zombie book.

So you see where I am going with this, right? People for whom reading is truly pleasurable tend to read more and more until their consumption of books reaches max speed. You couldn’t possibly be the only author they read, so you’re not competing with other authors for that spot. In fact, boosting other authors you think your readers might enjoy helps you. If you have to justify helping other authors, remind yourself of that.