Sunday, April 15, 2018

When You Face Discouragement

While I've been in publishing many years, not everything that I try succeeds. In fact, I've had some pretty unproclaimed but spectacular failures over the years. One of my books got a six-figure advance for my book proposal (exciting). Then when this book was published, the sales were way less than expected (read poor) and the publisher put the book out of print after six months. I have a few copies of this book but most of them were returned and destroyed.

Other times I believe in an author, convince my colleagues to believe, Morgan James issues a contract and the author signs the contract, so we are going to publish the book. A beautiful book is designed and published—but the author doesn't generate pre-sales or orders and the book launches with zero pre-sales and zero orders. Because of the huge financial investment to publish a book, these facts can be discouraging.

Discouragement comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. I've reached out to conference directors to see if I can teach at their event (one of the ways I find new authors as an acquisitions editor). My requests are ignored (unanswered) or they choose to go in a different direction with other faculty. I give these examples of a few ways that discouragement has come knocking on my door recently but it can be in many other areas of the publishing world. The reality is “no thank you” is a frequent response (or simply silence and no response). How do you keep moving forward in the face of such obstacles?

1. Switch gears to a different type of writing. One of the best and most basic ways to find new opportunities is to change to a different type of writing. If you are writing books, begin writing some query letters and getting magazine assignments. If you are not getting much response on your books, maybe work on getting some speaking engagements or workshops. If you can't get any traction on personal appearances, then set up teleseminars. As writers we have a lot of diverse possibilities with our skill set. If you need more ideas, look at the first chapter of my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams book which includes a list of different types of writing. This change might be exactly what you need to find the next open door. 

2. Read and take a break. Can you read a how-to book and learn something new to apply to your writing? I continue to read how-to books and learn from each of them. A new opportunity can come from your reading.

3. Reach out to old friends and colleagues. Pick up the phone and call some of your writer and editor friends. Is there something new they are working on that you could do or help with? From my experience many editors and agents have possible projects yet are looking for the right fit for that project.Your call to check in with them might be arriving at the right time for you to get one of these pending opportunities. If you aren't on their radar, that casual phone call might put you on their minds again.

Life is full of every day challenges and surprises. You will hit periods of discouragement. In those times, it is critical to move forward and jump into a new activity. It will push the discouragement away and your concentration will be focused on something new.

What steps to you take when you face discouragement? Tell me in the comments below.


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