We 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.
If 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
One 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.
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.