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.