Writing a book is a huge achievement, but what if publication day comes round and copies are NOT flying off the shelves?
What if your book is not a commercial success or critically acclaimed? In today's article, Julie Schooler talks about the positive side to writing a book even if it doesn't make you an instant millionaire …
You wrote a book! It took a long time and it was tough, demanding work. Much harder than you thought it would be.
You carved out time to write around work and family. Your hobbies, fun outings with friends, TV, sleep and even quality family times were sacrificed for this endeavor. But the sacrifices were worth it.
Now your marvelous creation is published so everyone can read it and shower it with adoration.
No one is buying it. No one is reading it. The dream of a bestseller has turned into a nightmare of a total flop.
What do you do now?
First, allow yourself to feel your emotions. Don’t pretend it doesn’t matter because it matters. A lot.
You may feel sad, rejected, confused, disappointed, frustrated or annoyed. Or perhaps a whole roar of negativity combined together. You are allowed to feel like that! It is called a feeling because you FEEL it.
Let your emotions move through you. They won’t stay in your body forever, except if you try to stuff them down.
Feeling a bad emotion should be the same as stubbing your toe—intensely painful and all-consuming at first and then fading to less painful so that soon you forget what that pain even felt like.
Next, work at being happier again. Don’t expect to switch into cheerleader mode any time soon, but you don’t need to wallow forever either.
Remember, you are not replacing the negative with the positive. The negative is gracefully released and you are now inviting the positive back in.
Getting back to a more cheerful state is not just a ‘nice to have’. It is actually essential, according to positive psychologists, to shake off negative emotions in order to rediscover your creativity, productivity and ability to see solutions to the problem at hand.
Sometimes it seems too hard to find the silver lining in a spectacular failure, so here are seven reasons to smile when your book is not a bestseller:
1. You Completed Something
You actually wrote a book. You have achieved something that 99% of the population will never do (even though many would love to).
2. You Created Something
You allowed your creativity to come out and play. The muse who has been in the background whispering to you was freed.
You relished the chance to unleash the creativity that has been stifled for far, far too long, perhaps even since you were a child.
3. You Were in Flow
In the process of permitting your creative side to show itself, you found yourself in periods of ‘flow’.
A flow state occurs where a challenging task that requires some skill brings a person into deep concentration and so the sense of time stops.
Although emotions are absent at the time, flow states are associated with long-term happiness. Sure, sometimes writing a book is exasperatingly hard. But, on occasion, it feels effortless and we forget ourselves for a time. Not everyone experiences this wonderful, magical state.
4. You Grew Through Learning
You can’t write a whole book and not learn something. You may have had do some research to write a particular scene in your novel or to clarify a point in your non-fiction book. You may have learned more about yourself in terms of when is the best time to write for you or whether you prefer the first draft or editing stage.
You will have certainly learned more about the craft of writing, even if it was just that you should only have one space, not two, after a full stop or period.
Learning something – anything at all – means you grow and growth is a major factor in lifelong happiness.
5. You Failed (It’s a Good Thing)
Without a doubt, one thing you have will have learned, whether you wanted to or not, is how to deal with failure.
Failure is a part of life. The only people who don’t fail are the ones who don’t try. Your true character is built not on whether you failed but on how and when you pick yourself back up again.
Maybe next time you will fail better! As billionaire, Sara Blakely, notes: ‘If you’re not failing, you’re not growing’.
You failed – now go and celebrate!
6. You Found Your Author Tribe
You are likely to have gotten advice and help from like-minded writers in courses, blogs, podcasts, forums and online groups. You may feel like people in your ‘real life’ only have a passing knowledge of the writer part of you, but now you have found a whole tribe of people who understand.
7. You Showed Courage
No matter what type of book you write, you reveal some of your authentic self.
Writing a book, whether it be an epic fantasy novel or a how-to on potty training, will leave a piece of yourself on the page for anyone to see. A book is a window to the writer’s soul.
By writing your book, you have let yourself be vulnerable. An uncomfortable thing to do but a truly courageous act. You are extremely brave.
Pick any of the seven reasons above – finishing a book, being creative, achieving a flow state, growth through learning, celebrating failure, finding your tribe or bravely showing your vulnerable side – and use it to pull yourself out of your negative state. Find your smile again.
Use this newfound positive state to problem solve.
Look back: find possible reasons why the book has not sold and come up with ways to improve its sales. Or use being happier to look forward: tap into that creativity and productivity from before and write the next book.
Instead of being a sad, rejected loser you are now a courageous and creative author. Yes, it is simply a variation in language, but you are a writer so you know just how powerful words can be.
Have you had to deal with less than inspiring results after a book launch? What strategies – emotional and practical – did you use to pick yourself up and carry on? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Julie Schooler had aspirations of being a writer since she was very young but somehow got sidetracked into the corporate world. After the birth of her first child, she rediscovered her creative side with a popular blog at CherishMama.com.
Her new Nourish Your Soul series, starting with Crappy to Happy, shares delicious wisdom to help you feel calmer, happier and more fulfilled.
Julie lives with her family in a small, magnificent country at the bottom of the world where you may find her trying to bake the world’s best chocolate brownie.