There are two types of jealousy, and they are so different, they really should be called different things.
One is the relationship jealousy. This is the one I think needs a different name. It’s where you think your partner is running around on you and this is insecurity and mistrust more than anything else.
Two is the envy type, where you want what someone else has. This is where someone has a great job, guy, car, whatever, and you want it.
I’ve never had an issue with the first. But the second? Every time someone waltzes onto the scene and makes it huge with one book, becomes some national sensation when there is nothing about their book to justify such attention besides luck and marketing, it makes my blood boil.
Because it seems so unfair.
But here’s the thing, there’s no such thing as fair.
People don’t owe you looking at your book, let alone buying it, no matter how fun, deep, beautifully written, blah blah blah, it is. They don’t owe you a livelihood. You don’t deserve a big break, or anything else, you sometimes luck into one, but it’s little more than that.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who make it big and are damn good, but there’s a thousand more who are damn good but never make it. The first are good and lucky. Being lucky doesn’t mean you weren’t good, just that something helped you capitalize on the good.
The issue with writers is, it takes us a ton of time to write, edit, polish, ect… one thing, which means we have time periods between stuff coming out, and if we don’t know how to market, our best marketing is getting out the next book, and that takes time. It leaves a huge chunk of time where we are kind of irrelevant. People bought our last book and are waiting for the next, or they never heard of us, but could with the next.
And when you are busting your butt to get the next book out for a bump in sales, before they drop again and you’re right back to working furiously for the next bump, and in the meanwhile you’re struggling to figure out how to market to make the most of what you have out, it’s infuriating to see someone drop one or two books and suddenly explode.
And you HATE them.
That’s jealousy. When you physically, down to your bones, hate somebody you would never have a beef with otherwise, because they are doing better than you. It stings even more when they haven’t been doing it forever and, at least to your eyes, haven’t earned it.
But, and here’s the point, you’re not hurting anyone but yourself when you put all that energy into hating someone. You’ve never met them, you don’t get anything out of hating them, it certainly doesn’t hurt them.
So why waste the energy? You can take that anger and turn it into a book, push the jealousy into the characters and let them seethe over someone or something. But if you’re just using it to rant online, you’re not doing anyone any good.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not above this. I suffer from jealousy so bad. Tons of people I went to school with have much better paying jobs than I do, and there’s times I hate them. Doesn’t matter that I like my job and it offers lower hours and better flexibility than they could ever dream of. They make more than me. And it’s not because they did better in school than me or are smarter than me, it’s because they’re better at networking than I am. (And they don’t have a second career, which is the big thing for me. I can’t have a job that requires 60 to 80 hours a week because I have a writing career to do too.)
Same thing with selling books. Some people have a gift for marketing and can sell their books easier than others can. I am not one of them. I’m a good writer. I honed my skills for years so now I can make an interesting story with complex characters and a strong voice, but I’m new to marketing. I’m not good at it, and I need to work on that.
And that’s not on anyone but me. The default in life is 0. To put it in economic terms, the default is poverty. Nothing puts you there. You start there and work your way up. Any even if other people have connections you don’t, start in a better position than you do, it doesn’t take away from you. Life isn’t a 0 sum game, where if someone has more, it means you have less. So why hate them? They don’t hurt you by having success.
Now, some people will say it does, because for every book a customer buys off that person, they don’t buy yours. This doesn’t actually hold because readers will read everything they come across that’s their genre, type of writing and characters. And it actually helps you if someone in your genre makes it big, because they pull readers who normally don’t read that genre in, and those readers may give other books in that genre a try if they find it.
They do have a limited time and budget for entertainment, and you are competing in a way, but there is not enough entertainment in each person’s specific range of likes to keep them endlessly entertained. That’s why people watch reruns or the same movie again and again, and reread their favorite books.
If they have time to reread a favorite series, they have time to read your book.
They just need to find it.
This kind of professional jealousy doesn’t do any good, and hating them doesn’t make sense because you aren’t fighting in a 0 sum game. This isn’t like when a girl has the guy you have a crush on, because there is only one of him and her having him does mean you can’t, if you even had a shot in the first place. This is like hating someone because she has a boyfriend, period, when you could be out finding one yourself.
So don’t waste your energy and time hating. Spend it on writing your books and marketing them. Maybe one day, you’ll be the person everyone else wants to be.