I read something a while back on a forum where someone thought something was wrong with their book because Bookbub didn’t take their book for a promotion. For anyone not aware of Bookbub, it’s a marketing service for authors who will take the book and send out an email blast to everyone who subscribes to receive daily notices of sales. The best thing about it is that it pairs up the genre of the book with readers interested in that particular genre. The ads can be expensive, but I hear it pays out in results. Here’s the link in case anyone’s interested: https://www.bookbub.com/home/
Well, I recently submitted a book in hopes of promoting it and was turned down. I thought if I came out and publicly said my book wasn’t accepted, it would help someone who might be wondering if they are a failure because Bookbub didn’t take their book.
The truth is, Bookbub can’t take everyone who submits a book. I can only imagine how many submissions they get a day. Considering its popularity, it’s a lot. There’s no way they can take everyone’s book. They have to make the hard decision on which book to take, and I bet a lot of books they receive are professionally done.
But the key is that they can only take the books they believe will have the best chance of satisfying their subscribers. It’s not personal. It’s business. If Bookbub didn’t accept your book, please don’t take it as a reflection of your book. This is not a failure on your part.
And this leads me to other things you shouldn’t take personally. Don’t assume you’re a failure because you didn’t get an award, didn’t sell a certain number of books, or get on a USA or NYT Bestseller list. You are not a failure just because you don’t get these things. These things do not accurately reflect the quality of your book.
So how can you combat the fear of failure if it stars rearing its ugly head? Here are some ideas:
Define What success Is For Yourself
I think one of the worst things we can do is let someone else define what “success” is for us. The world has its own ideas on what makes a writer successful. We have to make a conscious decision to tune this out. I know it’s hard. It’s why I often go offline or stick to a very small part of the Internet. It helps me keep in touch with that part of me that started writing books to begin with.
Do Things You Enjoy
Also, we’re all different. We aren’t all meant to hang out on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. We’re not all meant to blog or hang out on forums. There’s no way we can do everything. Life is too short to spend your time doing things that you hate. For example, I hate selling books at a table. I’m an introvert. I would much rather be at home writing. But I have a friend who loves selling books at fairs. She is a people person and loves to engage them. I’d much rather blog, and she doesn’t like blogging a lot. What’s the point in me trying to convince her to do things my way or vice versa?
We have our own interests based on our comfort level and personalities. Life would be very boring if we all did the exact same thing. Pick what you enjoy, and do that. And if someone tries to make you feel like you’re a failure because you aren’t doing something they want you to do, run away from that person as fast as you can. They will only drain you. Stick with people who are supportive.
Only Make Goals You Have Control Over
My favorite goal is, “I will write X number of books a year.” Then I go through and figure out how I can realistically make this happen. Writing books is what I love doing most, and I can control it. I can’t control if others like it or how many will sell.
Don’t make “I will sell X number of copies” a goal. Instead, do something like, “I will contact X number of bloggers about my book to see if they’ll review it” or “I will submit a book to Bookbub to see if they’ll let me run an ad” or “I will put a link to my website at the end of my ebook” or “I will write a 1-3 sentence blurb about my other books at the end of my ebook to help advertise them” your goals. These are concrete things you can do.
Goals that rely on other people to do things for you are bad goals because you can’t control what they do. For example, “X number of people will tell Y number of people about my book” isn’t a good goal.
Recognize the Blessings When They Come
Not winning an award, not making it to the Top 100 on Amazon, not selling a certain number of books, or not reaching some other landmark you were aiming for can be a bummer. It’s okay to be disappointed. You’re only human. You can’t be happy all the time. But don’t stay in the funk. Recognize the other things that are working in your favor.
Good things do come along, and sometimes they come in the most unexpected ways. My suggestion is to make a list of the good things that come along. Maybe you got an email from a reader who said they loved your book. (I suggest printing it out.) Maybe you found out someone said something positive about your book to someone else or on a blog or in a forum. Maybe there was someone whose marriage is better off today because they read your books and took the time to thank you. There are many things in this world we don’t control but do happen to make our days brighter. If we take the time to appreciate them when they happen, it helps to combat the “I didn’t get X” feeling of despair. I know it’s human nature to focus on the negative, which is why I suggest making a list of the positive and referring to it often.
This list doesn’t cover everything, but hopefully, this will help someone who might be in need of some encouraging words. I want to thank Stephannie Beman for helping me come up with the list.