If you read most author blogs, there’s one theme in common across the board: successful writers are the ones who stick with it, no matter how tough or discouraging things get. We all laugh in amazement when we hear how many rejections Author X received before publishing The Blockbuster of the Century or how many years Author Y toiled over the manuscript of A Great Literary Work. Wow, we think to ourselves. That’s perseverance for you!
Word-wielding is a writer’s chief skill; perseverance is his chief virtue. It’s so tempting to pitch the keyboard through the window when the plot tangles itself in knots, when your ninety-ninth rejection comes to your inbox, or when your words seem to disappear into The Void. Writing does have its seasons. And for some of us, spring will be a long time coming. That doesn’t mean we should give up. In fact, if you were born a writer, you won’t be able to give up. Writing is in your blood, and no matter how cold a reception the world gives your work, the words keep coming anyway.
But let’s face it. We do tend to measure success by book sales. And when a big fat goose egg greets you every time you check your sales report for the month, it can get mighty discouraging. How do you offer yourself encouragement? Better yet, how do you strive harder to achieve success (measured in units sold)?
This is a quandary that I am currently working through myself. After the initial wave of euphoria that came with seeing my novel in print, things settled into a rhythm of…nothingness. Goose eggs as far as the eye can reach. Frustration replaced euphoria. And I turned my back upon my little book and said, “Do whatever you will. But don’t expect me to help.”
Well, clearly, that wasn’t the right response either. So I’m back on the upswing now, ready to lend a hand to my floundering brainchild. I got on the phone to set up a few book signings. I started looking for book fair venues to offer my book to the public. I offered an alluring discount on my ebook.
If you’re in the same situation, take a few minutes to consider some things:
- What’s your target audience?
- What’s the best way to engage your target audience?
- What’s the most efficient use of your resources (time and money) in engaging your audience? Where will your time and/or dollars spent go the farthest and reap the most return?
- What is your goal? 1000 copies sold? 10,000 copies? A million? Get a number in your head. When I worked in direct sales, we talked a lot about goal-setting. Make a poster or a screen-saver that reminds you of your vision for success. You may not get all the way to your goal, but you’ll get a lot farther than if you had no goals at all. Selling 700 copies is a heck of a lot better than selling 10. Right?
- Don’t sell yourself short. Believe you can reach the goal you set for yourself. Get out of your own way!
There are a million and one quippy sayings for this, all to the effect of “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Don’t let frustration get you down. Figure out where you want to go, and find a way to get there.
It’s all you.