As I type this, I’ve sold less than 300 copies of my first book. I’m ranked 532,049th among Amazon’s authors. My sales graph looks like a jumbo slide at a theme park.
Writing a book is hard. It takes time and effort. Authors shove all of their heart and souls into their work, and they care about what they do. Here I am looking at all of this data, and it can be discouraging.
This is not a blog about giving up. If you’re reading this, and you think I’ll ever stop, you must be on my page for the first time.
What I’m trying to share with everyone out there is how discouraging it can be some times. I talk to my author friends about it all the time. This, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons people never write a book. They see the completion of a novel as a step to success (the sale of said novel).
What I want to do now is share with you all how I deal with discouragement. I’m in NO way an expert. But of all the things that get me down, writing isn’t on the list. Sales, marketing, and life, oh my do I have a list! But discouragement can only win if you give up. I’ve spoken about this a lot. So what keeps me going? What keeps me typing when I’m setting new all-time lows? What keeps me marketing?
You fail when you quit: This is something I was taught even as a kid. To my own detriment, I’m one who refuses to quit. I’m fiercely loyal. I’m ABSOLUTELY dedicated. When I say “I will,” I do. So when I start to feel like a failure, I try something. I try ANYTHING I can think of that I think will help me improve. I try a new marketing scheme. I try a new sales tactic.
In my life, I’ve learned that if you want to HAVE something, you must, in fact, DO something. Now…I’m a man who like momentum. I’ll take the longer, slower way to work if it lets me keep my car in motion. Try though other friends have, I refuse to believe the answer to getting anywhere is stop. The downside to this is sometimes that effort is misused. I try not to waste energy, but in this, my nature trumps my actions. Whatever happens though, the moment I feel low, I consider what I CAN do, and I do that.
Remember Where You Started: Even if I NEVER sell a book again, I’ve still written a book. It’s not easy. You see, in reference to my earlier statement, I see sales as sales. I don’t consider the sale of said book to be the goal of writing. Finishing a book is the goal of writing. Selling said book is the goal publishing the next book. No matter how low I get, I realize nothing stops me from writing another book.
This does a lot for me in other ways. Bob was my first novel, and if I had it to do again, I’d have waited to publish one book until I had three ready to go. I had no idea how powerful having multiple products was. I would categorize the decision as a mistake, but it’s not one from which I can’t recover. Caught will help. Maybe 1,200 gets me an agent? Maybe the next book gets me on the NYT Best Seller List. Even if they don’t. The data shows having more books out helps you sell more books. So even if I’m the worst selling author ever, I’m still an author. As I type this, my book is on my little trophy case. I get all sad and whiny, and then I look to my left. That’s MY book. I wrote that!
Finding Wins: This is a harder concept to grasp. For me, one of my most powerful wins is that the bulk of my readers like my book. According to Goodreads, 95% of people who rate or review my book like it. 80% offer four stars or more. Even the three-star reviews are very kind and usually have something very fulfilling to offer an author who’s having a bad day. Another win for me is starting or finishing another project. I can finish edits to Caught and tell myself, “This one will do better!”
Talking To People: This is critical. We writers can be pretty miserable at times. We’re actually very fun people on the whole (well, maybe I’m not, but I’m not all that normal a guy to begin with). The thing is we’re artists, and we artists are emotional beings. I’ve had several conversations with all my writer friends.
Sometimes I’m there telling them how great they are. Sometimes they’re around to remind me the same. This isn’t just writing. When life in general gets me down, I have friends that I can turn to. Don’t mistake the desire to move on as “happiness.” This isn’t a post about how to be happy. I’m a fighter. I am constantly fighting the me from yesterday, and I hate that dude. I want the me of today to be better, and that’s a very hard code to live by. But I find the strength and will to keep going when I talk to those I love. Sometimes we bounce ideas off of each other. Sometimes they just sit and listen because they know that’s all I need. No matter what though, they’re there for me, and that means everything.
So those four things are what keep me going. I understand that one of them amounts to, “just keep going, cause screw giving up,” but it works for me. My friends hate this phrase I quote, “I am Orwell’s Boxer, and I will work harder.” But that’s me in a nutshell. I’ll never stop. I’ll never give in. I may end up old and in a metaphorical glue factory, but I’ll never give in. When I feel the temptation to get too self pitying, any one or combination of these things helps me get moving again.
What works for you? Do you have some motivation that keeps you moving when everything and everyone says you should stop? Share it down below or post it on your blog and throw up the link.
Thanks for reading,
(AFTERWARD: The day after I typed this, I sold a book. I also received one three-star review and two, five-star reviews since writing this post. So you see, just keep going. No matter how low you are, the only time you fail is when you quit.)