Comparisons Don’t Compare

I’m offering author advice today, but the more I think about this, the more it can apply to other areas. So I’m going to address the reason I started writing this blog, and branch out at the end to apply to other things.

Last week I had a blue day. Maybe it was an off shoot case of the Mondays, but the ugly truth was that I was jealous and a little depressed.

A lot of authors in this day and age keep track of their sales numbers, they can tell you how many books they sell per day or even per hour. Me? I’m doing good if I check my stats about once every other day. The way I look at it, I can’t control that number, so why obsess? But yesterday I was curious so I clicked through my stats and went to see how some other comparable books were doing. What I found was that the books I could compare mine to are sitting higher on Amazon than mine. That of course means these books are better, people must like them better and I’m a crappy writer. Oh my! The world is crumbling under my feet! The sky is falling!

Writing is an incredibly personal thing. It’s this literary baby you help grow and nurture, and when it’s time you cut the apron strings and send it out into the world to fend for itself. Maybe that’s a bad example. (There are authors who have books that are their "baby" and the "book of their heart" which are a written expression of themselves. That’s not what I’m talking about.) But moving on, it’s hard to watch that book falter in numbers, have nasty things said about it and not feel some part of that.

What myself and other authors need to keep in mind is that we can’t compare ourselves. We are going to drive ourselves crazy if we look at so-and-so’s book and compare it to our own. Our books, the subject matter, the marketing, the cover, the blurb, they’re all unique and individual and we can’t compare them. Well, you can, but it’s going to lead to disappointment because there’s always someone out there who will do better or worse than you.

I’ve never been one to compare myself to others, so maybe that was why I came down so hard on myself. I’m a big supporter of the idea that we are all unique individuals with such diverse traits and qualities that you can’t compare. How do you compare vanilla to mango? They’re both amazing and yet completely different.

While writing this post I had an amusing conversation with my mother about my middle and high school days. My mother seems to have spent most of that time completely baffled by my behavior. Yes, I was the recipient of some less than wonderful comments, not everyone liked me — but my mom related to me several stories from her perspective about how I couldn’t give a flying flip what someone else thought of me.

This started as a sort of PSA about why we shouldn’t compare ourselves, and has become a stand for individuality. Regardless, I think we could all do with an extra dose of both on some days. Have a kick ass Monday!

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