It baffles me that new authors compare themselves to famous authors. I know it probably shouldn’t perplex me, after all golfers gauge their performance on other golfer’s strokes; artist liken themselves to other artists; housewives to other housewives.
The thing is, for some reason, new authors never compare themselves to an author that is in any way similar to them, a novice. They go right to the top of the literary tree and think they are the next H.G. Wells.
Instead of saying, “I read Garth Nix and wish I wrote as well as him or were as successful as him”, they say, “I’m sure I thought up the vampire-boy-meets-mortal-girl story long before Stephenie Myer did and my book’s much better.”
There are ideas out there that other authors will have that may resemble your own. Your book could have a similar theme to someone else’s. This is common. It doesn’t mean they have stolen your idea. It’s just that there are an infinite number of ideas that are thought up.
Coincidences can happen. Books on Armageddon are popular at the moment as are vampire themes but some of the authors of these books may have been working on them for over a decade. This of course may make them wonder how other authors have now thought of these ideas.
Telling people that you also wrote your first draft of your novel in a coffee shop does not make you the next J.K. Rowling. Having a car accident, taking up painting and writing horror stories does not make you the next Stephen King.
Find your own story. Do your own thing. If you wrote your story at the kitchen bench whilst breastfeeding your child, so be it. Don’t try to do the writing any other way but the way that you can. Don’t go to a coffee shop just because it seems cool for an author to do that, when all you really want is the sanctuary of your own home.
Bestselling authors tell stories about themselves as well as the stories in their books. This is how they market themselves (usually with the help of a pricey publicist).
To become a famous author big-budget marketing has usually been provided by a large publisher. That’s why we all know about these authors.
One thing that new authors refuse to see is that popular authors have written books that the publishing houses have seen to be worthy of a risk. They are either written very well, in a unique sellable style or they have a new idea that will suit that moment in time. They may have written their proposal in such a way as to sell the marketing potential of their book so well that the publishing house couldn’t refuse. Let’s face it they probably deserve their luck and we should be happy for them.
There can be a lot of good fortune involved in becoming a bestselling author. Pitching your proposal at the opportune time that a publishing house wants such a manuscript could be considered good luck. We all know of authors that deserve the big break but never get it. Where is their luck? The truth is you have to be persistent and accept many rejections (most famous authors did) before you get published.
Don’t compare yourself. Don’t say you’ll be the next Candace Bushnell. Be yourself. Believe in yourself and say, “I’ll be the next ______ (fill in your name).”
Just be true to yourself, believe in your writing ability and keep trying to improve each book. You are you and that’s all you can ever be.