Having worked in the cut-throat world of TV for 30 years, I expected the publishing world to be similar. I imagined authors sticking pins in voodoo dolls of their rivals and deliberately posting negative reviews under pseudonyms, which is exactly what would happen in TV. I also bought into the stereotype of women being bitchier than men, so as a writer of commercial women’s fiction, I was sure that I would be confronted with an industry riven with seething rivalries and nastiness.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the moment my first book was published, I have been blown away by the support and encouragement I have received from fellow female writers and many have now become good friends. They have publicised my books, given glowing quotes and even posted adverts for my novels when I haven’t noticed that they’re on special offer or have been included in a promotion. Their generosity makes me keen to reciprocate, so it’s a pattern of behaviour that gets passed on through the industry.
When I asked one very successful fellow author why it’s so different to TV, she replied: ‘Because no-one buys just one book. People buy many books, so there’s room for everyone to be successful. And a healthy publishing industry is good news for us all.”
She is absolutely right, of course, and it’s a shame that I have come to expect the worst of people, rather than the best. Maybe it’s not surprising. Not long after I started working in TV, someone told me: ‘It’s not enough for me to be successful. I need to see my enemies fail for me to be really happy.’ And it’s a philosophy that I heard repeated over and over again through the years.
In publishing, I’d suggest that the opposite is true. Obviously, it is fantastic if your book is successful. But it is much more enjoyable if your friends are successful too. Book tours with a group of fellow authors are much more fun than doing one alone. That’s why so many events, signings and festivals feature a line-up of authors rather than just one.
And when an author who has been on the scene for many years finally scores a number one, there is a genuine outpouring of delight and collective pride from other authors because, apart from anything else, it gives the rest of us hope that it is possible, no matter how many books down the line it is!