How to Stay Competitive in the Publishing Industry

The publishing industry is a mad, mad world. Authors are constantly told they need to up their game, build their platform, try new things and sometimes it can be hard to navigate, so we asked some of our favorite authors who have recently published to share their #1 tip for other authors on how to stay competitive in this mad publishing world! 


throughwidelenses“Just keep writing. That’s what writers do— we write. And it’s the only thing you can control in this industry.”Brenda Janowitz, author of The Dinner Party



throughwidelenses (7)“In our increasingly digital world, it’s critical that as an author you maintain your personal (aka in-person) relationships to stay relevant and competitive. Go into your local bookstore and get to know the booksellers! Buy your books from them and become real friends. You’ll find that like real friends, they’ll support your work if you support theirs. And the same is true for other authors.

You probably have a few great authors who live close to you, no matter where that is. Get to know each other. Help each other. Spread the word about their books, and really other books in general. Your fans will appreciate it–we are all looking for that next great read–and so will the authors of those books.

It’s that old adage ‘what goes around, comes around,’ in the very best way possible.” Sarah Burningham, Little Bird Publicity and author of Girl to Girl and How to Raise Your Parents


throughwidelenses (2)“The publishing industry is in flux. It’s important for authors to keep informed about the industry, to learn about new social media and publishing platforms, new promotional opportunities, new marketing ideas, etc. to remain competitive and relevant. And be ‘Social’!

Being involved in social media can be incredibly rewarding for authors for multiple reasons. Authors can develop new and cultivate existing relationships with their readers and fellow authors, promote their work and the work of their peers, and reinforce their brand and platform. Plus, it’s simple and free!” Susie Schnall, author of The Balance Project and On Grace


throughwidelenses (1)“Even when you are in between books, and holed up in the proverbial ‘writing cave’, don’t drop out completely! Be sure to keep up with your writing-world by reading other writers’ new work—and supporting it. Writing quick reviews, sharing your favorites on social media, writing blurbs and staying connected to other writers is a fabulous way to keep your profile high and your karma-score right where it needs to be for when it’s your turn to publish again.” – Kamy Wicoff, author of Wishful Thinking



throughwidelenses (4)“Study other genres–from screenwriting to poetry to picture books. My speechwriting for leaders has kept my own voice and big ideas fresh for my YA novels.” –Justina Chen, author of The Art of Inspiration: Lead Your Best Story


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“The single most important way to stay competitive is to make sure every book you put out is your best. (After all, there’s no marketing strategy on the planet that can make up for a subpar novel.) Obviously, that means devoting yourself to writing—but for me, it means reading a lot. I read at least a book a week, even when I’m on deadline, and try to vary genres, which helps me think more critically about story, structure, voice, etc. Over the past month,  for example, I read Elena Ferrante’s The Story of the Lost Child, Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.” – Camille Pagan, author of Life and Other Near Death Experiences


throughwidelenses (5)“Always use your imagination. You’re the only one on the planet with direct access to it, so get in there and mine it. Don’t worry. It’s a magical resource: The more you delve into it, the more it expands.”Caroline Kepnes, author of You and Hidden Bodies


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“Content is king, more so than ever, and it’s not just in the form of your next book. Writers and authors alike ought to be scoping out opportunities for guest posting, contributing to magazines and anthologies, as well as keeping up their social media. Content also comes in the form of teaching, memes, and multimedia, like video and audio. Get creative, but also stay on message. The more you can put out into the world content that’s valuable and consistent, the more you’ll build a following for all the writing you do—from tweets to your next book.”Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press and SparkPress and author of Green-Light Your Book

For even more lessons on navigating the current publishing landscape, check out Industry Expert Jane Friedman’s new post 4 Lessons for Authors.