Recently I came across someone on the internet who described himself as an editor. He had a reasonably large internet platform, so I checked him out and joined his email list in exchange for a free report. When I got the report, I started reading and read this:
“In this report, I talk about three methods that when used properly will accelerate your writing speed. This is important to us, because the faster we can produce our Kindle books, the more money we will be able to make as an author on the Kindle platform.”
Seriously? Who is this guy’s ideal client?
Books are first and foremost about sharing something meaningful and valuable with a reader. Kindle “quick” books rarely accomplish that task successfully. Still, in spite of the scary introduction, I read the emails he sent over the next few weeks. When it was clear to me that our clients had nothing in common, I unsubscribed, glad that I'd checked him out for two very specific reasons.
Reason #1: It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what other people are doing in your market. Establishing yourself within your market can be a challenge. You might have a profound belief in what you’re doing, but when you’re getting started, you have to build up your self-confidence muscle to the point where you stop worrying that your competition might have more to offer than you do. This kind of thinking is a variation of scarcity thinking—the idea that most people would pick your competition over you.
Every second of every day a new and ideal client is entering your market, and it would be impossible for you (or anyone) to work with every single one of them. That’s too much pressure to take on! Focus on writing your book from the perspective of serving your ideal clients by providing thoughtful and successful solutions to their needs and wants, and you won’t have to worry about what your competition is doing.
Reason #2: Following other people’s work can help us better define the parameters of our own work. The gentleman I quoted above did a great job of reminding me that the work I do with authors does not result in Kindle “quick” books. Kindle yes, but not the “How to sell a million Kindle books in one year!” quick variety that takes 9 days to write and publish.
Did I know this before I checked him out? No. I just thought he was an editor. But when I took the time to check him out, the differences between what he does and what I do became obvious. We work from different perspectives with different types of authors. We are not in competition at all, and in a small and simple way, making that decision increased the clarity of the vision I hold for what I do, and for whom I work with.
Holding on to the idea that we’re always in competition—with our competition—is no way to enjoy what we’re doing. The only real competition worth paying any attention to is our inner competitive spirit urging us on to be a little bit better today than we were yesterday.