Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Word of Encouragement to Authors - Musings On Dreams Come True

There's a lot going on right now, and I have a bunch of blog posts planned for going over behind-the-scenes stuff in publishing, the differences between indie and traditional, the editing process, etc, etc, etc.
But I'm in a bit of a thoughtful mood today, so I wanted to share something with all of you who follow this blog and write and have your own dreams.
Here's the thing: Some really big stuff happened yesterday. Stuff I'll remember for the rest of my life. Stuff I always hoped would happen. Stuff I had dreamed about since... well, gosh knows how long. (My name and book were mentioned by the New York Times, for goodness sake!)
But two very stark truths are becoming clear to me in the aftermath, and I hope they will encourage you to keep going, whenever you're getting discouraged in your pursuit of whatever it is that you're aiming for.
Firstly, I am the very same writer I was a few days ago. The only thing that has changed is other people's perceptions of me.
So, I have the same flaws, limitations, and propensity to screw up that I did last Wednesday. Everyone is just a little more forgiving of it now. (We'll see how long that lasts!)
And that extends to my book, too. I can't tell you how many people I heard from yesterday, telling me they'd read and loved Breakable...yet they never told me that before. So were they lying? Or just motivated now? Who knows.
The point is, I am no more or no less than I was a few days ago - I am just viewed differently. It's pointless to get caught up in that. I might fall flat on my face. I have once before. So...?
So, nothing. Keep going. Keep living. See what God brings. It's that simple. No need to get full of myself. No need to get down on myself. Just a need to keep going.
Secondly, the book that got me this deal was good, but not quite good enough.
It's the book that got queried dozens of times and rejected (or ignored) just as many. It got an agent, then got requested -- and quickly rejected -- by 13 editors in major publishing houses. It got self-published, but didn't make enough money to make a living. It garnered great reviews, but no substantial (paid) sales.
It's the book that didn't "get there", until it did.
What I'm trying to say is, your stuff doesn't have to be perfect to catch the eye of someone who can do something about getting it out there. It just has to be good. And your marketing doesn't have to be expensive, and glossy. In fact, in my case, there was no marketing at all when my editor stumbled across Breakable.
I've got an amazing team at Alloy/Amazon, but I can't tell you how many times I've heard the word "dumb luck" or "happy accidents" out of their mouths when it comes to talking about book sales and popularity.
There are zero guarantees in this industry. (Unless you count the guarantee that someone will hate it/criticize you/reject you or your book at some point). So, if you haven't gotten where you want to be yet, that doesn't mean you're failing. It just aren't there yet. Keep working. Keep improving. Keep going.
Take it from me: I've been actively trying to get a publishing deal since 2009. In fact, my deal offer came just one month shy of the five year anniversary of me first trying to write for publication.
I can remember reading notes from authors back then about the time it might take, and not to give up. I always hoped I'd be the exception.
Turns out, I'm the rule.
Your Turn: What expectations do you put on yourself that you're struggling to live up to?