Everybody fails, it’s how you deal with it that counts

sochi ringsWe all fail. All of us. It could be a small thing or it could be an enormous, publicly humiliating failure in front of a global audience, like when one of the rings failed to open at the Sochi Winter Olympics this year. Failure is a natural occurrence. It’s what you do next that’s important.

sochi closing ringsIf you believed the press at the time, after the Sochi opening ceremony Vladimir Putin either sacked, imprisoned or executed the person responsible. After the bad publicity the Sochi Games had received about gay rights (and quite right too) it was another humiliating embarrassment. The press was full of pictures of this ‘catastrophe’ for days. So how did the organising committee deal with the situation? By making a joke of it at the closing ceremony, embracing their failure and dispelling a few Russian stereotypes at the same time.

The publishing rollercoaster

When you publish a book there will always be ups and downs. Maybe it doesn’t sell as well as you would like, maybe it doesn’t sell at all. Maybe a promotion flopped, or you received one or more 1-star reviews. These things will knock anyone’s confidence, especially when it involves something you’ve spent months, or even years, pouring your heart into, and our first reaction is to either curl up into a ball or rage at the sheer unfairness of it all.

I’ve seen many posts and tweets by authors complaining about this or that aspect of their career. We’ve all felt like it at times. I’m an optimistic person at heart so I always expect things to go well. An old colleague of mine was the complete opposite. When I asked him why he had such a bleak outlook he told me “because then I’m never disappointed.”

I don’t suggest you all become pessimists overnight but at the same time, without trying to appear heartless, moaning about a particular situation is a pointless exercise. When you do this, the only person you’re hurting is yourself, not only by gaining a reputation of being a complainer, but because you’re doing nothing to change what’s happened.

A successful author is an unsuccessful author who never gave up

new-mrs-d-cover-design-smallerOne of my author friends, Heather Hill, wrote a wonderful book called The New Mrs D (you can read my review of it here). She tried for a long time to get it published but was turned down because the subject matter “would put people off buying the book”.

She managed to find an agent who believed in her but not a publisher, so the two decided to self-publish. This went incredibly well – at one point The New Mrs D was at no.1 in Amazon Australia – mostly through the work Heather did to promote the book, build a mailing list and following on her blog, as well as utilising twitter and instagram to spread the word. She hadn’t taken no for an answer and proved everybody wrong.

For various reasons, Heather and her agent parted company and Heather retained the rights to her work. Unfortunately, her book was then unpublished, vanished from the Amazon store losing all the sales ranking and visibility. It was devastating. All her hard work from the previous months had disappeared, all of the time and money she’d invested, gone. At this point most of us would have given up.

Not Heather.

She re-published the book, organised a campaign of social media promotion and spent what little money she could afford on a bookbub promotion. Her book was downloaded 29,000 times and at one point she was in the top 10 free books on amazon.co.uk and top 20 on amazon.com. Since then she has remained flying high in the paid charts, all due to how she reacted to adversity. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.

This is what it takes to be a successful author.

If you would like to buy Heather’s book, The New Mrs D, you can get it from amazon.com by clicking here, or from amazon.co.uk by clicking here.

I can also recommend her blog, Hell for Heather, and following her on twitter @hellforheather. Say hello, she’s very friendly.

12 thoughts on “Everybody fails, it’s how you deal with it that counts

    • That’s another great quote. 🙂
      People often talk about perseverance in terms of following a traditional publishing route – facing repeated rejection when trying to gain an agent or publisher – but it’s equally important when self-publishing.

  1. This is very kind of you Dylan, thank you so much x
    I think if you have managed to give up (and we all have moments of doubt) and never look back then you’re not supposed to be a writer anyway. It’s not an option for me. I’m a writer; it’s in my very bones. I can’t imagine giving up, even in the face of rejection. To use the words of the great rock band, ‘Journey’ – Don’t stop believing!

    • You have no idea how tempting it is to pull this post now you’ve put JOURNEY IN MY HEAD! 😉
      It was my pleasure. You’ve been so supportive to me and many other authors so it was the least I could do. Now go roll on a bed strewn with money or whatever you mega-selling authors do 🙂

  2. I don’t follow the Olympics, so I didn’t know about that story, but I think the unopened ring is pretty, like a stylized chrysanthemum. They should have just cranked up the other ones to match it. It’s about time the games got a new symbol, anyway!

  3. A great message, Dylan, and worth broadcasting every chance we get. I guess another way of putting it is, If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen…

    Writers tend to believe in themselves when no one else does. Perseverance is part of the job!

  4. Another great, positive post, Dylan, and a wise philosophy on handling what we’re inclined to label as ‘failure’. The word comes loaded with so much negativity, but I prefer to see it as an outcome – just one of the possible outcomes – of being prepared to get on and DO something (create, invent, stage, explore…). Sometimes ‘failure’ comes about due to factors beyond our reasonable control and other times we can look back and understand our contribution to this outcome – and hopefully learn from it.

    With everyone encouraged to be ‘winners’ in the game of life, from school age upwards, it’s no wonder that some people struggle to handle ‘failure’ with dignity, strength, positivity, equanimity… whatever is needed. As always in life, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you deal with it that counts.

    By the way, I’ve bought ‘Mrs D’ on your recommendation!

    • Exactly. I can’t remember who said it but I love the saying “anyone who has never failed hasn’t tried hard enough.” Push the envelope, try things out, take risks. If you fail, work out why and try again.
      I think you’ll love The New Mrs D. You should also follow Heather’s blog. I think the two of you would get on very well.

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