Today, I’m going to talk about you, the author, and why it’s important to go easy on yourself. Writing is the easy part. It’s everything that comes after writing the story that can cause a lot of stress.
What are some sources of stress?
Two of the greatest sources I’ve noticed is a lack of confidence in the ability to tell a good story. First, a reader can find a typo or two, and suddenly, we see it as a huge mountain instead of the molehill it really is. Second, we see a drop in sales and figure that people are voting with their wallets on the quality of our work, and the drop means we suck.
That’s why I think it’s important to keep grace in mind.
We are human. We will make mistakes. Typos happen. We can’t catch everything, and the same is true for editors and beta readers. Think of the traditionally published books you’ve read. Have you ever read one that had a typo? I read one where the heroine’s hair color changed in the same chapter, and I caught typos. Even the big publishers miss stuff.
As much as I wish sales were steady (aka. predictable), they aren’t. And changes made to the algorithms at the retailer can have an impact on sales. We can do everything right on our end. We can write a great story, get a great cover, and have a great editing team. We can even use our mailing list, create a successful launch campaign, add more books to the series, price it competitively, and even run ads on it. The problem is, we can’t control how it sells. We tend to blame ourselves for doing something wrong. The truth might be we aren’t doing anything wrong. For whatever reason, the book just isn’t selling. And yes, it makes us feel like crap.
The only thing we can do is be aware that we have done everything we can possibly do. Beating ourselves up over whatever is causing us stress isn’t going to change anything. Yes, give yourself time to grieve. Listen to depressing music. Have a good cry. Take a break. Do whatever you need to do to get through the low point. I think the only way out of the funk is by allowing yourself to experience it. We can’t be 100% happy 100% of the time.
And getting back to a reader not liking our book… Well, we can’t please everyone. It’s impossible. The best thing you can do is realize taste is subjective. Talk to an author friend about how sucky you feel. (I’ve found non-writers don’t properly understand why it hurts when someone hates our work. Other writers, however, get it.) It’s okay to feel angry or sad about it. That’s normal. But don’t stay in that frame of mind.
Be realistic about it. Even authors you love to read get bad reviews. Check them out. You thought the author’s book was awesome, but someone else didn’t. Treat yourself to something special. Make time to be good to yourself. Take note of the readers who loved your work. And ultimately, if you enjoyed the story you wrote, it was worth writing.
So give yourself lots of grace. It does the author soul a lot of good.
Some of my favorite stories were NOT great literary works, but novels where the writer had put in a lot of heart. I’ve shed tears for fictional friends, both happy and sad. A typo or two doesn’t change that. 🙂
I remember one book I loved so much that I threw it across the room when one of the characters died. It was my favorite character. (A secondary one but still my favorite.) Looking back, I don’t think I would have remembered that book as well as I do had it not been for that death in it.
I’d rather read a gripping story with a typo or two than a boring one that is perfect. 🙂
We authors do tend to beat ourselves up over our books not selling, and we DO start worrying that we suck. I get to the point where I wonder if I’m just totally biased because I love my own characters. I see some authors doing so well and even getting picked up by publishers (even though that’s not my goal), and I’m thinking that their books weren’t that good, so why can’t I sell better? I must REALLY suck. But I’ve figured out that a lot of it is luck. I see some authors I know are fantastic, and they are really struggling, and other authors that aren’t quite as good doing so much better. You just have to go with the flow and deal with it.
Yep, I noticed the same thing. I do believe in the luck factor. I know that tends to get “booed” by some people who believe work and knowing the right marketing techniques are what guarantees success, but I haven’t seen it play out in real life. Yes, work is a part of it. Yes, marketing is a part of it. But it’s not all there is to it. There are forces outside our control at play. We can’t control the book getting to the “right” person who has significant influence with a certain audience.
I’ve read authors I’ve really enjoyed (you’re one of them) who aren’t where I think they should be. I think they should be selling much better than they are, and I just don’t get why they aren’t. And I’ve picked up books that were wildly popular that I could never finish. Two went on to be made into movies that exploded all over the place, and for the life of me, I can’t bring myself to watch them because they don’t seem all that great to me. I guess it’s a taste thing.
I remember selling books a couple years ago when Fifty Shades was the big thing, and people wanted to buy that particular book from me only because they had heard of it. I couldn’t sell it because it wasn’t my book, but it was enlightening to listen to the people who wanted it. They had no idea what it was about. So I do know if people are exposed to something enough that is the latest fad, they’ll get it without knowing what they’re getting into. People can argue that book got to be popular because it was a good book, but the word of mouth thing is a powerful tool that is out of the author’s control.
I’ve heard so many authors talk about how bad the writing is in 50 Shades. I can’t weigh in on that because I’ve never read it. But I know there are indie erotica authors who are much better than the author of 50 shades. I just don’t know what makes a book take off like that.
And I really appreciate you saying you enjoy my books. 🙂
I read a sample of it and thought the author had a compelling voice. I can see why people were drawn to her work. I didn’t care for the plot. The same was true for Twilight. While I can see the appeal of the story, the underlying subject of the books bothered me. I would not, in any circumstance, date that kind of hero. But if you were to ask me if Luke Skywalker or Han Solo was better, I’d say Luke all the way. I love the good guy. In real life, a woman’s chance of conforming this kind of bad boy into being “good for the rest of his life” just doesn’t pan out. I’ve never been a fan of “changing” the jerk into a prince scenario. But I hear it is a very popular trope so that’s probably why it took off. 🙂
One reason I love your books is because you have heroes and heroines I can see being happy in an ever after scenario.
I read Twilight a long time ago. I would have actually liked them better if she’d ended up with Jacob. Edward was too controlling, and that’s probably why you didn’t like him. Jacob really loved Bella and wouldn’t have walked all over her. Jacob was a much better hero, in my opinion.
Same here! I wish she had ended up with Jacob. I hated Edward.