Everyone Gets Jealous, Even Published Authors

Yes, I’m ashamed to admit. I get jealous of other authors. It’s ridiculous really. I couldn’t ask for a better start to my writing career. I’ve accomplished what every author hopes. I’ve earned back my advance and then some. I’ve had plenty of positive reviews on Amazon. I’ve won awards and made the CBA bestseller list. I’ve pleased my publisher enough for them to offer me another contract.

What more could I want? Especially when I’m already blessed with so much?

Apparently that ugly jealousy monster inside me isn’t easy to appease. The monster wants more, especially when it looks around and sees what others have. It stares with its green eyes and whispers, “Look what she has. Don’t you wish you had that too?”

The fact is, everyone gets jealous. I know it’s easy to think unpublished writers are the only ones with the envious eyes. I remember the days of being jealous of writers with agents, book contracts, and readers. At that stage it’s hard not to look ahead at those who are already published and to wish you could trade places.

But strangely, the jealousy doesn’t end at publication, even when you’re in a position such as mine. I was reminded of this last week when I saw another writer announce some fantastic and exciting news. And as thrilled as I was for this writer friend, I was almost literally sick with the feeling of wishing I could have her level of success.

Yes, the jealousy monster creeps after us at every stage of publication.

Before publication we get jealous of these kinds of things:

*Writers who get an agent before us.
*Writers who can easily make friends with industry professionals.
*Writers who have more followers on social media.
*Writers who place higher in a contest.
*Those who seem more popular.
*Those who can write books faster than us.

After publication we get jealous of these kinds of things:

*Writers whose sales rankings are better than ours.
*Writers who consistently make the bestseller list.
*Writers with better book contracts than ours.
*Writers whose books final in contests when ours doesn’t.
*Writers who get more attention from their agent.
*Writers whose books are optioned for movies.
*Big seller authors who get special treatment from the publisher.

So, last week when I was sick with jealousy, I had to stop myself, take a deep breath, and remind myself of a few simple things:

1. Sometimes the internet is hazardous to our mental health. The truth is, because we’re online and involved in the writing community, we end up seeing what everyone is doing. We hear all the good news and very little of the bad.

Therefore, it’s easy to be bombarded by all of the “congrats” and “hurrahs” and start to wonder why we’re missing out. I find that sometimes I need to step back, turn off the internet for a while, and remember that what I see on twitter isn’t necessarily the whole picture.

2. Remember those authors who are achieving success have worked really, really hard to get where they’re at. I only have to stop and think about how many years I studied writing, how many books I've written, and how long I struggled before I reached my current position. While those achieving success might make it look like it happened overnight, it usually involved years of hard work.

3. Direct the frustration into getting even better at our writing. The great thing about the writing industry is that it’s wide open. Anyone who has the will to work at improving and the desire to succeed has a chance at making it. So whenever I see someone getting the kind of success that I’d like, I challenge myself to work all the harder.

4. Don’t blame agents and editors for their inability to coddle us. Whether before publication or after, the nature of the modern publishing industry is that agents and editors don’t have the time to hold the hands of all the authors clamoring for attention. They have to prioritize, and of course, they’re going to give their best time and energy toward the bread-and-butter authors, the brand names, the bigger authors.

Recently, I experienced a twinge of jealousy when I saw that my publisher had put together a big book tour for their most popular, best-selling author Beverly Lewis. Yes, I couldn't keep from wishing that someday I'd warrant that kind of attention. But I had to remind myself that Beverly Lewis has been writing for years and has worked hard to become a household name. If not for her financial success, my publisher wouldn’t be able to take as many risks on young authors like me.

So, now that I've admitted to feeling jealous of other authors, please tell me I'm not alone! What makes you jealous? And how do you handle it?


  1. OK, now you're just gettin' personal! :) Who doesn't get jealous? If I found someone like that I'd be jealous of them!

    Seriously, yes. Just a few weeks ago I was reading my local newspaper (I live in a small rural town in northwest Florida) and they had a story about a 22 year old woman who is publishing her first story. It's the first one she's ever written and it's getting rave reviews from people who have read it. Lots of local publicity. Since I'm more than twice her age and working very hard to learn about the business and polish my story and have never even heard back from query letters with a rejection - yes, the little green-eyed monster took a giant leap all over me.

    Then I was not only jealous of her, but I didn't like myself very much either. If I ever publish a book I want people to be happy for me not jealous! Why shouldn't I offer the same to her. She's a Christian too.

    When I calm down from that first emotional response I try to pray for people when I'm jealous of them. I also ask God to remind me that I'm on His timetable, not mine. I ask Him to help me be faithful where He has planted me right now.

    It's hard sometimes, but the sooner I get my focus off the object of my envy and back on God the better I handle it. I never feel prepared, though, and when it hits it always catches me off guard. Ugh!

    Thanks for being so open about this. This was a brave post!

  2. I love your honesty and I think it's great that you're sharing it in an encouraging way.

    Of course, I've been jealous and yep, I've had to stop prowling around the internet to get quiet and let God remind me that every journey is different, doesn't mean it's not as important.

    My husband calls that a "Check up from the neck up. Get your mind right!" :)

  3. This was very brave, I agree with the Sherri.

    I get jealous too, until I remember that we are all on different paths. We are all learning. Sometimes we need extreme success to learn the lessons God has for us and others need to work more at the other end of the spectrum.

    Sometimes, I wish He'd give me the trial of EXTREME success, but then I wouldn't be learning what He has in mind for me (unless of course that is in His plans and I'm just not ready for it lol).

    Thanks for the great post!

  4. I get jealous quite regularly, and it sounds just about like what you describe. I have to remind myself that I am following my calling, and it's not the same as someone else's--that it doesn't matter how successful I am compared to someone else; it only matters that I do what God needs me to be doing.

  5. Goodmorning, ladies! Glad to hear that I'm not alone in feeling jealous! I think it's a hard thing for us to admit, because we may come across as unsupportive to the friend we're jealous of or as ungrateful for the things we have. But, I'm guessing battling jealousy will be a constant struggle! So we might as well get it out in the open and talk about it, right?

  6. Success is getting the problems you once dreamed of having ;-)

    Sounds like you've found somw perspective on your jealousy and can use it to spur yourself on, so it's all good. I wish I was better at using others' success to motivate me!

  7. I don't think I have been working long enough at this yet to get jealous, but I know it will probably happen if I work years and years without getting an agent, etc. Right now I am just in awe that published authors even bother to talk to me and giver encouragement.

    But all in all, the best thing to remember is we are all different. On different paths. And that's ok!

  8. I agree with the first four ladies, Jody. God has a unique, specific plan for each of us, and to envy His plan for someone else is to doubt His goodness and His direction for us. It helps me to remember specific times in the past when His plan for me turned out to be best, even though it didn't seem like it at the time. I also lean on His promise in 1 Timothy 6:6, that "godliness with contentment is great gain."

    I like what you said in #1 and #3. A diet of internet success stories can give us envy bloat, when consumed in excess. An occasional fast is prudent here.:-) And you are wise to re-direct your feelings of envy into improving your own writing...not to one-up the competition, but simply to challenge yourself to excel, for God's glory.

    ~ Betsy

  9. I agree. We all do get jealous. But we have to remind ourselves it may not be the right time for us, there book may, in fact, deserve the accolades it's receiving, and even more so, it will happen for us perhaps and if it doesn't, well, we have the success of knowing we have reached readers--via family, beta readers, critique partners etc. That's what's really important--the fans.

  10. I'm jealous of your blogging, Jody. Great job, as always.

    Every writer should read Ann Lamott's hilarious take on jealousy in Bird by Bird.

    There's a positive aspect to this. It shows we care about what we're doing. We're engaged. We want to do the best we can. The trick is not to fall into the comparison trap.

    If you ever feel that trap closing around you (I advise) get thee to the nearest keyboard and start typing. I don't care if you're at a banquet or the doctor's office. Start writing something.

    Also, design some sort of short term writing self-improvement plan. When we study the craft, we are getting better. And that's an antidote to sitting there feeling jealous.

  11. Another great post, Jody! I think everyone gets jealous, it's a normal thing to happen. I just feel it and then, like anger let it go. Wasting time on what's going on with someone else isn't changing anything for me.
    I am constantly bouyed by how many authors offer help. So thankful to all of you.

  12. Last night I was on Facebook and I saw this post: "I DID IT! I finished writing a book today! After spending the past four months immersed in the story and falling in love with the characters, I'm saddened to leave them behind. But I'm also excited that I accomplished a small miracle in completing another book!" And you know what, I was jealous! :) (By the way, congrats on finishing the book, I'm so excited to read it someday!) I actually calculated in my mind how long I've been working on my MS and it's been five months and I'm no where near finished with it! The first thing I wanted to do (thank you, Mr. Scott, for the advice) is run to my computer and start hammering away on the keys. Alas, it was after midnight already and my foggy mind couldn't get past three sentences, but I will get back at it today.

    I'm amazed at the perfect timing in this post. All of your points are right on - and I realize its not your success - or the success of other writers - that makes me jealous, it's my own position in the waiting line that has me chomping at the bit. I especially appreciated this line from #3 above: "Anyone who has the will to work at improving and the desire to succeed has a chance at making it." Thank you for that.

    By the way, I was able to meet Beverly Lewis while she was in Minnesota on her book tour - I look forward to the day when I'll see you on one, too. :) @MeyerGabrielle

  13. Jody, thanks for being so honest with us. Took a lot of courage. Two days ago my husband's grandmother told me about a women in Des Moines (two hours away) who self-published (she made a big monetary investment in herself and had the means to do so) and her book is now getting rave reviews. Immediately, I felt jealous and almost like the gauntlet had been thrown, which was ridiculous.

    So yes, I get jealous. Jealous of big sales numbers, bigger blog followings, hearing of someone signing a multiple book contract. Like you, I have to pull back and remind myself I've only being at this seriously for two years, and I've already sold one book. I'm getting close to finishing the next, and my writing is improving by leaps and bounds. I'm also slowly eeking out a social media presence.

    So when I get jealous, I try to stop and think about what I have accomplished. Thanks for giving us this great list!

  14. Thanks for being so real and honest Jody:) Yes jealousy is something I've fought with often. It's so true that other authors have worked hard for where they are at and the best thing I can do is direct the frustration into getting better at writing. So true:) Thanks for the great reminder :-)

  15. You. Are. Not. Alone.
    I've had a lot of walks and talks with myself (and with my precious husband) about this topic -- wanting to keep my focus right. That would be off of myself.
    To do that I have to admit that yes, I get jealous (yuck!) but that yes, I don't want to park my emotions there.
    And if that means I have to go walk and talk and pray every day I am privileged to walk the writing road, so be it. (Actually, I should pray every day, all day long.)
    I'm talking about this very topic at Blue Ridge this weekend. Found a great quote too ... will share it with you ...

  16. You are certainly not alone, Jody. I have experienced it more often than I would like to admit. And since you and I started our publishing walk so close together, guess who I find myself getting jealous over more than anyone? Yep. You. LOL.

    I'm so thankful that our friendship is bigger than my momentary lapses.

    Whenever I start to feel those twinges, I try to remind myself that the ministry of Christian publishing is a team sport, not an individual one. There are stars and there are utility players. And sometimes a rookie or backup player comes in and does something phenomenal. We should cheer for our entire team and not whine about someone else getting more spotlight time.

    So the next time I get whiny, you can remind me I said this. :-)

  17. I needed to hear this, Jody. Thank you!!! I just sent out my first query letter earlier this week and now I'm in that limbo waiting period. In the last couple of weeks, I've seen friends get manuscript requests and agent contracts. I'm excited for them but wonder if it will ever be my turn. And then to top off the hodgepodge of emotions, an essay I submitted to an anthology wasn't selected after all. I'm trying to keep perspective and remember the big picture. I guess the grass really is always greener elsewhere, unless we determine to bloom where we're planted.

  18. Oh, so true! I fight so hard not to measure myself against the success of others, but it's inevitable and I get bitter about it. I think my biggest jealousy right now is over a new YA author who has a very popular blog (that I used to follow and love). Her book is huge and got a lot of support from the publisher, but after reading an excerpt I couldn't stand it. And then I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to pick it up. And THEN I panicked that I was doing it all wrong and didn't really understand the market. So yeah. Destructive.

  19. As always, love the honesty here.

    Some people have impeccable timing. Or things just click together for them. And others have to learn to wait while continually working their tails off. I'm currently without a tail. As JSB mentioned earlier, it helps me to know what I'm invested in, how much I care, but I'm also constantly learning to hand my own plans, etc. over to God. Remembering His glory & how it all comes back to that.

    ~ Wendy

  20. Thank you for a refreshingly honest post! What I appreciate is that even when we are jealous (and as an unpubbed writer, green is a popular color on me), we can still be happy for others' success.

    We can't ever fully abandon jealousy, but you have nice, healthy reminders of how to deal with it.

  21. Great post, Jody and I too am jealous of your ability to blog and seemingly do it all, but I know it's got to be a struggle. This is a tough business. And the green eyed monster slips under all our skins at some time or other. But life is too short. We just need to support each other and root for each other. I read a post over at the Kill Zone a while back by James Scott Bell and I think it was titled No Fear, No Meanness, No Envy. I think that should be our daily mantra. That Bell guy, he's just too smart. I think I'll be jealous of him too. No, no, no. Repeat after me: No Fear, No Meanness, No Envy.

  22. Well said, Jody!

    I think every step of the publishing process is difficult. It's really good to remember that things like jealousy don't go away after you have success.

  23. You. Are. Not. Alone.

    Feel better? ;-) I've seriously been fighting the green eyes too. I felt so ashamed and several times am just like, "God, please help me!"
    It's embarrassing to admit but I guess it's natural.
    The best thing I ever heard to fix jealousy is to pray good things for the person you're jealous of. I've done that several times (maybe thousands, lol) and it really helps.

  24. Ohhhhhhhhhh I needed this, NEEDED this. Thankyou.

  25. This is why all of us love you Jody, no matter what kind of genre we write. I LOOOOOVE this post and it's so true! But so good to hear.

    It's hard to be jealous of you because you're so nice and honest like this :)

  26. Thanks for all of the comment love today, everyone! I'm so glad we could all commiserate together! :-)

  27. Such an important subject, Jody, and one I'll bet a lot of us hate to think about. Is this deep longing to reach my publication goal actually jealousy? I don't always know the difference between jealousy and desire. All I know is when I start wishing to be where others are, or somewhere other than where I am in my writing journey, the words of the tenth commandment usually pop into my mind: "Thou shalt not covet ... any thing that is thy neighbour's. (Exodus 20:17)

    That's sobering. It makes me wonder if that's what I'm doing, and it sends me to pray that I will stop wishing away the present in favour of an unknown future, and instead be thankful for the opportunities I have.

    I still have dreams, and goals that I will continue to strive for, but I think it helps keep some of the envy under control. :)

  28. Yes. I've definitely wrestled with jealousy! This year it's gone to an even worse condition--depression. In the past, I've been jealous, but I've been able to give myself the pep talk that "someday it will happen for me."

    Now, the pep talk has gotten stale. It's just been so many years of putting in so much effort... I can barely muster jealousy, let alone excitement.

    I think jealousy actually can be good. When I'm jealous, there's still a part of me that is hopeful, a part that believes I'll have what they have someday.

    Sorry, don't mean to be a Debbie Downer. Hoping I can get jealous of someone soon! Ha! Ha!

  29. Of course I've BTDT. And there is one other slant nobody has mentioned. I've been around a long time and I spent the early half of my career hanging around with professional speakers, sales people and consultants whose daily bread depended on self promotion. I knew the stories behind the stories the public saw. I played the game too and was always afraid I'd be "found out."

    Never forget that what we see online, and much of what we hear in person, is contrived for effect, and your jealousy is the desired effect. My hope today is that whatever success I happen to be blessed with can inspire others, not cause them fear and doubt.

    Glad you already know to be kind to yourself. Thanks for this super inspiring post!

  30. I can so relate to this as an unpublished book writer. I can write a kickin' article or blog...but finish my book...books! Nope! Working at it every day!

    I thought I was the lone soldier when feeling the green monster creep up my chest and into my brain, especially when I read FB statuses about book contracts, word counts, celebrations of books being finished, along with boxes of printed material arriving! It is great to know I am not alone...most importantly, that I am normal!

    I must agree with the comment about God's timing in these things. I believe that God does have a plan and He is in control of when and where my book/s will be finished and then published...I may not even be here when they do. As long as I am writing...using His gift that He placed in me...making sure that I die empty of all the words and messages...then that is all that I am required to do through Him!

    Thank you for being so honest! I love your blog!

  31. Great post. I think it's human nature to always want the greener grass, and to never fully appreciate what we already have.

    The danger is when a bit of green-eye turns into a spiral of negativity and depression about where we are and what we see as a lack of success. So while envy is normal, we need to shake it off before it damages us and our ability to keep moving forward.


  32. Fabulous advice. I am not a jealous person, in general, but often the recipient of jealous comments. That's not humblebragging, either, because I don't mean book sales. I tend to put on a happy face and focus on the positive, and that elicits comments from others about how easy I have it in life, or how everything come easily to me, etc. etc. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Thanks for this, and it's great advice for me as a writer. I would have Pinned it to Pinterest, but the button is wonky.

  33. Jody- I've been following you for a couple of years off and on. We even emailed back and forth a few times :). Your forthrightness is so needed in this industry so thank you for it.

    Jealousy is a tough monster until you put it in Kingdom perspective. I just published my novel on Kindle and yes, I check the stats, excited when it's up on the bestseller list, but I also say- for your kingdom, if it touches just one... that's enough. It just keeps it all in perspective for me.

  34. Thanks for your honesty. I think I could use more of your drive to get things done.

    But here's the honest, unedited thought that rose up in me as I read your post. It makes me very vulnerable to share this, but I think I should do it so here goes...

    I cannot fix this. Only God can. He has to break me of it. And I have seen him do it again and again, faithfully, patiently, tenderly. He brings me to situations which force me to confront the ambivalence I still carry as a child of God with a history of sin. I am torn between self-less worship and self-absorption.

    Envy is just one expression of the tension. Envy is like a tide. It comes in and out, rising and falling. As I mature, high tide is a little lower each time. But I cannot change. All heart-change is his work. My work is to respond to conviction when I am aware of it.

  35. Thank you, Jody, for your vulnerability. We all struggle with this, but most of us are too chicken to admit it.

    I recently signed with an agent. And now, I have to very deliberately fight back the urges to be jealous of people who've advanced past that stage to publication.


  36. Thank you Jody, and others, for your honesty. I head off to a writer's conference in a few minutes. This was just what I needed to hear.

  37. I love your blog, Jody, both for the writing insights and the personal honesty.

    Someone once told me that we get jealous because we always look up rather than down when we compare ourselves to others.

    On that basis, Jody, I'm pleased to offer myself as your personal anti-jealousy agent. Next time the green-eyed monster assails you, simply check out my website.

    I only have a one book deal (gasp), and although I think my publisher is great, they do Ebook format only (snigger).

    After examining the lowly condition of my writing career, your sense of peace and tranquility will be restored and you can sail onwards and upwards to better things! :-)

  38. Thank you, Jody, for a great post that touched on something all of us need to consider. I've been contemplating my use of social media a great deal recently. I've concluded that not only is it bad for my mental health, it's toxic to my soul. And body. Today, my wrists and shoulders ached from the hours I've spent on line. Almost all those hours involved responding to people in the zillions of forums, FB groups, etc. in which I participate. That participation doesn't come from desire to "connect"; it's because I think it's necessary for my career. My first book was published in 2007––Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice. I've been thinking about how I felt when I wrote that book vs. now. Back when I wrote Stepping, I practiced what I preached. I felt great. Now, I'm jaded. What am I practicing? Social media. I'm thinking about opting out of most of my media activity. I'm scared stiff: Will my Klout score hit zero? Will my sales tank if I'm not jabbering over the 'net all day? Is participating in social media something a successful author MUST do? I'll find out.

  39. Jody: For me, jealousy leads to self-doubt. I'll never write as well as someone else. Or somebody has a better blog with a larger audience - why don't I? Reading James Scott Bell's comment with his advice on how to handle jealousy really made sense to me. You can be sure I'll apply his logic. So glad my Crit Partner, Martha Ramirez (who always finds the best blogs), directed me to your post!

  40. As usual...I love dropping by because of your thoughtful and honest posts. This was definitely something I've struggled with lately. And then several friends and family members asked me what I was going to do about it. Of course I had to take a deep breath and stand back to reevaluate my path.

  41. good stuff here! I read from another author how jealous writers can hurt other writers--posting insanely negative reviews on GR, for example. And I was prompted to do a post making the point you just made. It helps us ALL when any of us are successful. Without the big money authors, publishers couldn't afford to give us little fish a chance. And what a great encouragement! Use those feelings to get better.

    Best, Jody~ :o)

  42. Hi Jody! Thank you so much for your honesty in this post. As an unpublished (pre-published?) author, I've been jealous of so many things. Especially writers who signed with an agent for their first novel. It was tough to put my "baby" in a drawer, but now that I've completed and polished my second novel, I can see how much I've improved. I'm still waiting for that next step (to sign with an agent. But I felt genuine happiness for a writer friend who signed recently because she has worked so hard, and it isn't her first book either. I handle my jealousy by focusing on the positive and being grateful for the small successes. :)

  43. I think jealousy may also have something to do with the fact that you see a talent in others that you know is right there in yourself (if only you could reach it).

    Brilliant blog - thank you.

  44. Thanks for sharing such an honest post.


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