Your Biggest Competition
November 29, 2010
Last week I had lunch with a friend of mine, Mike, who is a sometimes writer, but is otherwise a retired engineer who daytrades and invented a product and turned it into a company a few years ago. He's the president of the inventor's club in the state and in general is very, very knowledgeable about business and other things. (Unfortunately, his invention and company, makes jigs used by carpenters, and in case you hadn't noticed, there's not a tremendous amount of home building going on these days).
We were talking business, including the client that wants me to do work in exchange for a piece of their company, and we were discussing in a general sort of way, competition. And Mike said to me, "You know what I tell the inventor's club people is their biggest competition?"
I said, "No."
Mike said, "Doing nothing."
What Mike means is that if a person or company has been doing business a certain way--buying a certain product, putting up shelves a certain way, buying the services (or not) of a type of consulting firm, or even picking up a novel by an unknown author, your biggest competition is simply that they will continue doing what they're doing.
And this applies to novelists, too. Most definitely. There are readers for sure who seek out new writers ... particularly if it's by the hot new author on the block that everybody's talking about (Da Vinci Code, Tuesday with Morrie, Midnight in Garden of Good and Evil, The Librarian... get the idea?). There are some people that never buy books by people they've never heard of. Or that never buy books. Or that never buy books except the ones on the cheap tables at Borders or B&N (sit in one of those stores sometime and watch what people do--if you get a chance to do a booksigning in one and your table is by the front door, you'll get to experience it first-hand).