Yes, as writers, we are all each others' competition (genre specific), but we can also help boost each others' sales. For me, one of the best things about becoming self-published and having to seek out other authors was not a boost in sales, but the camaraderie I have found within an awesome network of people. I belong to an author group who help each other with things like critiques, editing, formatting, cover design, morale boosting, promotions, and the list goes on. We don't have agents, editors, publishers, and publicists to answer our questions or hold our hands so we formed our own community of people who do that. We return the favor for others. It's an amazing thing. On this very website I have a space dedicated to some of my favorite Indie Authors. I don't have to do that. I do it because we all need every little helping hand we can get when we go it on our own. Maybe the author who wrote that blog simply never had to struggle. Maybe she really does see everyone as her competition and therefore shuts them out. Maybe she was just having a bad day with stalker authors sending her repeated messages about buying their books. Who knows?
I think probably the most visible example I could give of "the competition being friendly and sharing trade secrets" would be actors and actresses. Think about it, they are competing on a much more hard core level for those paychecks and yet you still see them in the "news" hanging out together, you hear them in interviews supporting one another. What is so different when authors get together to talk shop? I don't see a lot of difference. I also see those actors showing their support by heading out to each other's movie premiers.
My target demographic, my readers, are anyone who enjoys fantasy novels. If you love witches, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, fairies, and other fantasy creatures and humanoids then you are in my target audience. Most authors I know are avid readers. We love books. Writing them is taking that love one step further. So, for someone to say that I shouldn't point another author to my book is ridiculous. I am an author. I go out seeking other people's books when I am bored. Many of them are my competition, because that is the genre I LOVE! I obviously can't sit around reading my own book day in and day out to avoid giving the competition a bump in sales. I mean, I already know most of it by heart. The whole point in reading is to find something new and different to loose yourself in. Maybe, somewhere along the line authors get jaded and they forget why they are writing, or what made them write to begin with. For me, writing has been a part of my life as long as reading has. They have always gone hand in hand. My book shelves and e-readers are lined with books in my genre. They will continue to be. So, if you have a good book you think I will love - feel free to suggest it to me!
I understand people who message you on a regular basis with messages like, "hey, read my book!" are annoying. Some people tend to get a little over-excited. But, I will never begrudge people who advertise their own work in their news feed, be it on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever. It's not necessarily directed at me anyway. It may be directed at their other 5,000 friends and/or followers! And you know what - it's okay for people to be proud of their work and to want to share it with the world.
I believe my genre's audience is larger than some people think. I know for a fact that there are three generations of fantasy readers in my house. That's an age range from teens to sixties. I also know, from hanging out in the Twitterverse, that there are a ton of male readers and writers for YA fiction, including urban fantasy, which I've always thought of as hardcore chick lit. ;) So, really, you'd be surprised sometimes by who's actually reading or writing in your genre!
I have had an immense amount of support from fellow authors in and out of my genre. I have also given support to others. I think it's okay for us to have our own little community, I think it's okay to buy your fellow author's books too! Sure, we may be competition, but we might also be friends. And I might really like your book! :D
So, tell me what you think. Do you think it's cool to have writing communities, to be friends with fellow authors, and talk about your various works among one another or do you take the "we are competitors" route and avoid other authors and their books?