No matter what you set out to do in life, mind-set challenges can really bog you down. Whether you’re learning swimming or trying to lose weight or run a business, you’ll face many challenges that come from within you.
And the author journey is no exception.
As elsewhere, there are challenges galore. You want to write a story. You drag yourself to your computer. You open a word processing document. And then there is silence…
The words just don’t flow.
Supposing they did, and you manage to finish your manuscript and send it to a publisher.
Argh!!! You never hear from the publisher again.
You indie publish your book and the sales don’t come rolling in.
Admittedly, you sound like a failure.
If this wasn’t enough, you have friends and family members asking either uncomfortable questions or giving unsolicited advice. How many copies do you sell every month? Who is your publisher? Why don’t get a real job? Ouch.
Every question is phrased in such a way that it makes you feel you aren’t good enough.
And after all this, when you do manage to attain a modicum of success, you are sometimes made to feel like a fraud. That all your stories lack substance. That you just became successful because you chanced to write the right book at the right moment.
Do you get the drift?
Part 1 includes Mind set Aspects of Creativity and Writing and deals with issues such as fear of failure, procrastination, writer’s block, the feeling that you don’t write anything original, etc.
Part 2 includes Mind set Aspects after Publishing which includes dealing with fans and haters, ambition and giving up.
Part 3 has Tips for Success in the Author Journey: Joanna talks about developing professional habits, of writing regularly and thinking long term.
I am a great fan of Joanna Penn and I really like her long term advice. It’s very easy to become disappointed with lack of sales or overwhelmed because you need to constantly produce. But when you feel dis-heartened, a comparison with your day job experience can help.
Joanna comes from the corporate background just like me. When you’re in a corporate job, you don’t think of getting promoted to the highest level within a year or even a few years. That kind of ambition is considered stupid or simply laughable.
It’s only in the long run (10+ years) when you’re considered valuable in the eyes of your employers.
But when it comes to being an Author, we all want to make it big overnight or at the most, within the first or the second year. Why think so differently?
I really liked when Joanna gives the example of Pablo Picasso. His paintings are worth over $500 million today. But Picasso didn’t create only one piece of work which was a masterpiece. In fact, he created over 50,000 pieces of art work.
And most of them weren’t masterpieces.
My addition: Charles Dickens wrote a lot of novels, most of which you won’t be familiar with. Most people have only heard about “The Christmas Carol.” My general knowledge may be slightly better (just kidding) because I’ve heard about “The Tale of Two Cities” and “Oliver Twist” as well. Recently I watched a Bollywood movie “Fitoor” which was an adaptation of Dicken’s novel “The Great Expectations.” For some stupid reason, I had never heard of that one but the characters were simply fabulous.
Joanna’s point: If you want to be rich and famous, keep producing. The more you write, the better you’ll become and the more you’ll attract fans in the long run.
Writer’s block: Personally, I don’t find writer’s block to be a problem but many writers do. Usually writing the next sentence (which could be anything) is the best way to get rid of this block. However, I used to feel “empty” after finishing a book and used to feel guilty about not writing anything new for quite some-time. Joanna says this is normal and nothing to be ashamed about. I wasn’t looking for this advice but was surprised to discover that I’m not alone in having that feeling!
Dealing with friends and family members: Joanna creates a vivid scene of how strangers, friends and family members interact with her when she is socialising. She is sipping wine in a corner and a lady approaches her and asks her what she does? When Joanna replies that she writes thrillers, a host of questions follow from being rich and famous, to buying her books in brick and mortar stores and to who is her publisher. Go read it! It’s quite amusing at times. And hats off to Joanna for answering all such questions in her typically thorough and painstaking a manner.
I’d like to add a few more questions to that imaginary conversation.
Why don’t you get a traditional publishing deal? I’ve been asked this question by a family friend. My answer: It doesn’t make any business sense. I can indie publish the book to Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play and make 70% of the royalties earned. In traditional publishing, I’ll be making anywhere from 10% to 25% of the royalties. So why take a hit! That’s usually enough to shut people up.
Do you sell 100,000 copies of a book? Note the question says “a book” and not “all books.” I usually keep quiet and refuse to share any data. But you don’t need to sell 100,000 copies of a book to make a living. A few hundred copies is sufficient if you take 70% of the royalties’ home and price your books decently.
Certain parts amused me. Joanna is very active on podcasts and her blog has over 300 podcast shows. But in the book she believes that it will be her writing that will make her famous and not her podcasts. Interesting!
In the end, I will say that the book is very well written and that every writer needs to flip through it at least once.
Whatever mind-set issues you’ve been facing, I’m sure you’ll find some answers in this book.