62. The Power of Comparison

Comparison is a double-edged sword.

On one hand it can be dangerous—even paralyzing—to compare your book to some of your favorite authors’ works.

But there’s also power in that natural inclination to compare yourself to others.

In this episode, you’ll discover when and how you should compare your book so you’re left feeling inspired and excited to write and publish the book only you can write.

Mentioned in This Episode

Jump-Start: A free guide to help you jump-start your nonfiction book.

Episode Transcript

Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis.

I hope your week and your writing are going well.

I typically warn my clients about comparing their books to the books they love. 

But many of them can’t resist. They read a book on a similar (or even the same!) topic or in their genre, and they start to pick their own work apart.

Famous Author understands all this so much better than I do.

Famous Author has a stronger voice than mine.

Famous Author is a better writer than I am.

Famous Author has already said it all. 

Trust me. I can understand those thoughts and the feelings of fear and even hopelessness when you try to figure out how you can write a book like Toni Morrison, or Maya Angelou, or James Baldwin, or whoever you love to read.

I’ve been there more times than I can count—reading someone’s brilliant book and wondering why I should even bother to write my own.

So when my coaching clients get stuck in the middle of their book because they’re writing about self-worth and comparing themselves to Brene Brown or writing about money whatever the case, I completely get it.

I usually encourage my clients to keep in mind that you don’t have to write a prestigious, prize-winning book to serve your readers or to achieve your author goals.

But even after we go over all the value they have to offer, some of my clients still get stuck in comparison.

This is where I ask a difficult question: 

Are you willing to do what that Famous Author did to produce that great work? 

Because here’s the truth. 

The very best books are written by people who made sacrifices to write them. 

They’re written by people who dedicated years or even decades to a field of research and study and distilled it into a book their audience wants to read. 

They’re written by people who devoted countless hours a week to honing the various elements of their craft. 

They’re written by people who understand that they’re not entitled to produce a bestseller or an award-winning book just because they have something to say or a measure of real talent.

Work, they understand, is still required.

If you want to compare the value and quality of your book to someone else’s then you also have to compare your level of commitment and investment to the level of commitment and investment of the people who’ve written books at the level you want to reach. 

That kind of comparison actually can serve you.

Compare your willingness to push your ideas further, to go deeper into your characters’ world, and to do the research to support your ideas.

Compare your ability to tell the truth and take a stand.

Compare how much of your time, money, and effort you’re willing to invest in developing your idea, writing your book, and sending it out into the world.

Know that you don’t have to do what the writers you admire did to write your phenomenal book.

You can write a book that serves your goals and provides value to your readers—a book you’re proud to have your name on—without doing what the world’s most lauded authors did. 

Embrace the idea of producing your best work by consciously deciding how much of yourself you’re willing to pour into your work. 

Your six months of research may not carry the same gravitas as the work of the author who has dedicated two decades to conducting academic research. But her book isn’t for everyone. 

Perhaps your content won’t go as deep, but your One Perfect Reader isn’t ready to go that deep yet. She may never be. 

Your novel or your memoir may not have the poetic language and layered storytelling of the novel or memoir written and rewritten over the course of five years. 

But you can still tell a story that changes lives, and you can still do it incredibly well.

There’s nothing wrong with aiming high—literary awards, exceptional reviews from respected critics, topping the bestseller lists, a book that sells for years and earns you tens of thousands of dollars—every one of these goals is worth working to achieve. 

Don’t compare your book and the results you want unless you’re also willing to compare your effort and investment to theirs.

Get clear about what it takes to achieve your goals—not somebody else’s.

Get clear about how you define success for your book and what matters most to you.

And then prepare to invest the effort it takes to make that happen.

You don’t have to write like your favorite authors to write a world-class book that makes a huge difference for you and your business and for your readers.

That’s it for this episode, my friends.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on IG @candiceldavis. 

Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m Your Author Coach, Candice L Davis. And I’ll see you next time.

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