Monday, January 16, 2012

Expectations Kill

We are all familiar  with disappointment.  Disappointment is born when there is hope or expectation. Yes, we all need hope to keep moving forward, but I believe that expectation is a whole lot steeper than hope.

I've lost my sights on why I've become published. I became obsessed with marketing my book to the point that I was losing my soul to it! I'm with a very small publisher and it's up to us to promote our own books. That has been a struggle with me because I have a family to tend to as well, and then there's real life that comes with it.

It became so bad that I've had to force myself to take a break for a whole week straight. I found that I had SO much more time open wide for reading, being me, and playing with my kids. I really enjoyed it.

It's been two days since I've returned to my writing career. This time, it's different. I've set aside specific times in my day so that I don't let things rule my life again.

As an aspiring author, I had expectations for my book--but that's like saying a little girl expects to live happily ever after once finding her knight in shining armor.

I had no idea what I was really in for--being published is simply the business side of writing.

Being published doesn't mean all your problems melt away and you're set for life--it's like with any other career out there: you still have to work at it but wisely! You don't stay at your current job 17 hours a day, Monday through Thursday, do you? It's so easy to let that happen with your book because you love it, you're home doing it and it slowly cooks you alive if you're not watching the water boil!

Just like with any relationship gone sour, I need to remember why I started writing. So I'm getting back to the basics:  Discovering the pure joy in writing, and remembering the love of sharing my heart's work.

As a rule, authors never talk about the hardships of their careers, and it makes me wonder why because it is there. What struggles are you facing now?


  1. Big hugs, Elizabeth! And hooray for spending more time on yourself and your family.

    At my first writer's workshop I asked my teacher what he'd done to promote his first book. He said, "Nothing." And he was making six figures as a bestselling author! But he published with Tor, and they took care of the marketing. He told me that the average author doesn't have the time and money to make the tiniest dent in a standard marketing campaign.

    I've also seen how self-publishing really works because five years ago my brother-in-law recorded a CD and my dad produced it. For a long time, boxes and boxes of it sat in my dad's garage. It took years for them to break even on it, even though they worked very hard giving concerts and doing other things to promote it. BUT Deseret Book produced my brother-in-law's 2nd CD, and one of the tracks on the first CD got used in a feature film (producing minimal royalties and lots of exposure).

    So what I have to say is, BE PATIENT! You don't know what opportunities will be open to you years down the road because you published Darkspell.

  2. Finding the balance is a constant struggle. Even today, my kids are off school, but I'm trying to write. (And here I am reading blog posts! Ack!) Keeping what's most important to you in the center is tough, but vital. And keeping expectations low. :) #hanginthere

  3. It's important to note that the only way anyone becomes a bestseller is through tons and tons of work. Authors who don't promote instead have publicists and publishers who do tons and tons of work. It isn't true, actually, that an author can't affect the sales of a book published by a big house, but many who can believe that choose to believe it. For those of us who don't have publicists, rest assured, it just isn't true.

    And I totally agree with taking this as a marathon, not a sprint. Ten years ago, I was not the most talented writer in my Clarion West class. Far from. There's a reason it took me 5 more years to make a sale and was the very last of my classmates to reach this milestone. But I wrote every day, got my manuscripts workshopped, rinsed and repeated year after year. I am still not the best writer in my class - far from, but I'm able to keep pace with people I could only gaze at in wonder back then.

    The same goes for sales, definitely. I have my shortlist of what to do every day. I tweet at every new twitter follower and I submit to at least one book blog, and then I go back to hugging my children. I won't hit the NYT bestseller's list with this one, but I'll make a good foundation for the next release, and so on.

    I'm actually not feeling many woes right now, but that's not because my sales are spectacular. I'm in my groove, though. I see what control I do have over my career, and I know that if I keep pushing in this direction, I will eventually get where I need to go, unless there's another disruptive market change, and then it's back to the drawing board again :-)

  4. I'm glad you are finding more balance in your writing time. Good for you!

    All authors have to market themselves to some extent. It's not all publicists and official tours. Brandon Sanderson may not think he does any marketing for his books, but that's not how I see it. He has a huge online presence in the form of his personal home page, his twitter and facebook accounts, his blogs, the Writing Excuses podcast, and tons of interviews. He interacts with fans more than any other major author I've seen. So while he may not think of that as book publicity, it looks very similar to the publicity most newer authors do and takes so much time that Brandon hired an assistant to help him with it.

  5. Oh this is so true. I've written a blogpost and several articles on promotion burnout. Creating a book marketing plan, and setting up the days/times you will market helps a lot. And also we must remember that writing a book is one thing - publishing it is another. When we publish that means someone wants to 'sell' our work and we should do our part to help with it's success.

  6. I'm having some trouble not letting writing take over my life. I have homework and stuff I'm supposed to do, so I have to be careful of that. The story I'm writing has been pretty good at just filling my free time up until now, but for the past few days, I've been sitting hunched over my notebook or my laptop every spare second. It's hard to remember that I have years and years left to write and I need to focus on school right now when my story has taken wing and I'm trying to keep up with it.


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