In my twelve or so years of writing fiction, I've developed many networks with other authors. Some of these networks are only one or two people. Others have hundreds of authors and are still growing. Some of these networks go back to the beginning of my writing career--my first writing class/critique group and my local chapter of RWA, Orange County, California--and another is less than two months old--a yahoo group of self-published romance writers.
These groups have women (and some men) who are pursuing a writing career. They are eager to learn the craft of writing, publishing, and promoting, and to share their knowledge with others. These people have learned that helping other authors also helps them.
I once heard New York Times best selling author, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, say at a conference that other authors are NOT your competition because a reader will read your book and immediately want another book. They might speed through your backlist, and then what? You won't have another book out for six months or a year. What are readers going to do in the meantime? Read other books. Will that stop them from reading yours when it comes out? No! The only thing that will stop (some) readers from buying a favorite author (or checking the book out from the library) is if that author produces one or two not so good (or even bad) books.
Therefore, it's important not to see other authors as your competition, but as your support system. I can't even count the various ways, big and small, that I've learned from or received support from other authors. I've developed some true and wonderful friendships. Some of these women (and one man) I rarely (if ever) see in person. My success is without a doubt due to other authors, who've been teachers, mentors, coaches, friends, promoters, and supporters.
Other friends and acquaintances from my writers' networks have given me so much information about self-publishing and promotion. They've bought my books (Wild Montana Sky and Sower of Dreams) promoted them on Twitter, Facebook, or their blogs, invited me to guest blog, reviewed my books, or swapped chapters with me. They've also recommended my books by word of mouth. Some of these things I requested, but many came spontaneously.
Most people who are in my networks know that I will do the same for them. For example, last week, I had a wonderful talk about books with Donna (whom I'd just met at a job function.) We found that we're both huge readers with a lot of favorite authors in common. When she told me she likes time travel romance, I recommend WNP friend, Theresa Ragan, another self-published author. I almost fell out of my chair when Donna told me she'd already read Theresa's books and loved them, especially Return of the Rose. By the end of the conversation, Donna had written down a list of my self-published friends and intended to go buy their books. I'd also asked her to write a 5 star review for Return of the Rose, which she has.
A few minutes ago, I wrote an email to a fan. This fan wanted to know when Stormy Montana Sky was coming out (late November.) In my email (among other things) I recommended Caroline Fyffe's books because her Westerns have a similar tone to mine. I told him that Caroline's books (out in a few weeks) could help tide him over until Stormy is out.
If you go through my blogs, I've sprinkled my friends' names and links to their books. Some have done the same for me. Maybe one of these days, I'll write a blog that just list my friends and links to their books. :)
After I write this blog, my next task is to check out a list of the self-published books from members of one of my networks, perhaps to buy some, but certainly to add checks to their tag boxes.
So you see, the GIVE and take of networking can be both personally fulfilling and of benefit to your sales figures. When you're promoting your books, think of how you can also promote others. I promise you'll reap the rewards.