Failure Has an Upside. Do You Know What it is?

A few years ago I wrote a book that was never published. It took me every night for a year to write it. That’s a really long time. Part of the reason it took so long was that I didn’t know what I was doing; the other part of the problem was that I had a three-year old and a one-year old and I hadn’t slept in three years. That can make you kind of slow.

So, I finished the book AND I WAS SO EXCITED. I had big hopes, big dreams. I sent it out to fifty agents and got fifty rejections. I entered it in a contest and got horrible scores. I let my cousin read it. She was really nice, but she knew it sucked.

My own mother didn’t like it. And she told me so.

*sound of dreams crashing all around*

Guess what? I failed. I wrote a book that no one wanted to read. It was my life’s dream, and I was a Big. Fat. Failure.

But I’m here to tell you that failure is absolutely essential to success. I believe that, anyway.

It took me a while to bounce back. I had another child, life got in the way for a while, but eventually, I started writing again. I took the criticism that people had given me and thought about it. I re-read that old book and I realized that it DID in fact pretty much suck. It wasn’t a suck that was fixable, either. It didn’t have enough of a dramatic arc, nothing to make the reader feel really connected or engaged enough to see it through, and the MC was totally whiny in a non-endearing way. A lot of beginner’s errors. I could see that now. It felt really good to see it.

So you know what I did? I decided to be brave. I knew my life’s dream hadn’t changed. I took (an informed) leap of faith and I wrote another book. I worked hard. I used beta readers and an editor, revised it, polished it, and then I self-published. Now I’m almost done writing the sequel. I have another book planned for this spring.

What failure taught me was the damnedest thing. It taught me that you have to fail in order to believe in yourself. I thought my life’s dream was finished when my first book crashed and burned. But you know the funny thing? After a while, once I dusted myself off and started writing again…I felt something I’d never felt before in my professional life. I felt STRONG. I felt RESILIENT. I felt like I was fighting for something I really, really wanted. I’d gotten knocked down and I’d picked myself up.

You know what? The experience of trying again, after failing, made me trust myself. I knew then, and I know now, that I’m going to go to bat for my dreams. To work through disappointment. Now, if it had been skipping and hot chocolate and rainbows the whole way, how would I know that?

Thanks for reading. Hugs and kisses.


Advice from One Newbie Author to Others.

I’ve written two books since June. I self-published the first and the second is almost ready to go. I’ve learned a TON, and it’s been so fun. Here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve learned that’s worth sharing:

(1) I published exclusively on Amazon and I did KDP Select. This means I can’t sell my ebook on B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, or through any other venue. IT WAS FREE. THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR THIS SERVICE, EXCEPT AMAZON’S CUT OF THE ROYALTIES. You can earn 70% royalties on your book, and that’s impressive.

(2) I highly recommend KDP Select. It limits your ability to publish to other venues, but you can run promotions, check your sales and rank 24/7, update your cover, price, blurb, etc., and Amazon makes it easy. Like, even if you’re stupid with computers easy. Plus, any time I’ve had an issue or question, I’ve emailed Amazon and they’ve emailed me back within a day. Trust me, if you’ve spent any time in publishing, you know this is supremely awesome.

It’s so awesome it deserves a Lenny.

3Arabia Music Network Wallpapers

(3) Two resources have been indispensable to me as an author and a self-publisher: Stephen King’s classic “On Writing,” and J.A. Konrath’s blog.

(4) Stephen King tells you to write every day. You’re a writer, right? So keep a word goal and right every day, even if you have PMS or your kid is throwing up. Or both. That’s the only way to ever get from Point A to Point B.

(5) You need to be informed about the book market; it’s in serious flux. You need to get informed and stay informed. (Konrath’s blog is great for that.)

(6) Look at other authors in your market — look at their covers, their bios, their websites, their blurbs, their marketing strategies. Look on Amazon and see what’s hot in your area. I’m not telling you to do this so you can have a comparathon, which turns into an angstathon, but just so you can be informed of the market you’re looking at.

(7) That being said, DON’T WASTE TIME ON ALL THE WHITE NOISE OUT THERE. Stop reading this blog. Get off Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr or whatever it is that you cool people do these days. Get back to your document. Finish it, and then edit the crap out of it. Have an honest friend read it. Get it proofread. Do a good cover. Go make yourself proud.

I’ll be back, eventually. We’re all in this together. Now good luck – go get ’em!