Just keep writing. That’s all an author can do.
You get a book published. All those years of hard work are now behind you. You’ve poured your heart and soul into a project which is now available to the book buying public and you hope like hell it’s going to sell. But is it selling? Holy crap, the first week your book broke the 10K mark on Amazon’s author rankings. But within a couple of weeks it has dropped to 400K.
Gah … don’t look at the Amazon rankings! You don’t know what they hell they mean! Best go check out how many new reviews are on Goodreads.
Gah!! Someone left an arsehole-ish snarky look how clever I am one-star review over on Goodreads.
Gah!! There’s another one!
Oh no! Google alerts tells you someone has a tepid review of your book on their blog complete with animated gifs!
Gah! My agent hasn’t responded to my email in over a week!
Gah!! I’ve got revisions on this other project for my agent but with my Amazon ranking at 400K does that mean I don’t have a ghost of a chance of getting this new project published?
Gah!! What are my sales numbers?
Gah!! This book store isn’t even stocking my damned book … why!!! Why!! Why!!!
Gah!! Everyone is self-publishing now! I have a zillion other books to compete with!
I could go on but I won’t because there is little point in freaking out about things that are beyond an author’s control. All that you can do is to write the best book you possibly can and when it gets published, who the hell really knows what’s going to happen?
See, I have this theory that a lot of unpublished authors aren’t pyschologically prepared for what happens once that book finally gets published. I think the reason for this is because we spent so much time and emotional energy writing the manuscript and spending in a lot of cases, years looking for an agent that when our story is sold and gets published, we now have a whole mess of new worries to fret about. Seriously, a newly published author can spend entire days checking up on their recently published work – what are people saying about it? How is it selling? Why isn’t it selling? Does my book suck? Do I suck? Am I doing enough to promote the book? What else can I do to promote the book? Is the market flooded with similar books and that’s why it isn’t selling? Are my expectations warped? Did I expect to light the world on fire with that first book?
These internal questions can drive an author nuts and more importantly, they distract from what you’re really supposed to be doing … writing that next book.
We have no control over what happens when that book finally gets published and I guess the point of this blog post is to remind debut authors that you have done something remarkable.
Let me repeat that: you did something remarkable. You got published. Think about that for a second …
There are a ton of writer websites out there with excellent resources. When I was starting out, I basically lived on AbsoluteWrite.com. The Bewares and Background Checks section. I wanted to know everything there ever was about every agent in the business. What they were looking for. Who they represented. What their last sale was and for how much. How long they took to get back to an author after the query went out. I freaked about the quality of my query. I freaked about “not for me” replies to my query. I fretted and fussed and worried and wondered and it seemed like I would never find an agent and get a book deal.
Was I a lousy author?
Why was I doing this? Why did I want to get published in the first place?
There are so many other writers looking to get published …. what’s the point?
And yet I beat the odds. I did find an agent. I did land a nice little book deal. I went to London and did a book launch. I met my agent … I ate crazy expensive risotto. I met other authors. I did a signing in a freaking Waterstones! I did a whole bunch of amazingly cool stuff that I’d never thought I would ever do. And if you just got published, you need to sit back and think about the fact that you truly did an amazing thing. You actually got published. That alone points to the fact that you have some talent because the VAST VAST VAST majority of people don’t land an agent and get a book deal.
It is something to celebrate and remember all your life. You accomplished something that most who write will never accomplish.
So there’s that next book. You need to write it. You need to forget about all of the intangible crap that you have absolutely no control over because … well, you have no control over it. If you fuss about all of these things it will make you CA-RAY-ZEE. More importantly, it can sap your enthusiasm for your next project. It can wreck your focus. It can and will affect the quality of your writing.
So just keep writing. That’s all an author can do. Write, write and write some more. If a project isn’t working for you, shelve it and start another project. Keep bloody writing because there is absolutely nothing you can do to impact the way the market is responding to your first book. There’s nothing you can to to control the way it will be received by readers and bloggers. You have no control over the reviews. Nada.
Keep writing and maybe you will hit paydirt one day. Maybe you’ll get a big advance, a huge movie deal and then you can get a gold tooth or something. In the meantime, if you’re freaking out about the intangibles, put both hands on your desk and push. Get away from your computer and go for a walk.
And remember that you beat the odds. You did something absolutely amazing that fewer than 1% of wannabe writers will ever experience in their lifetimes. Grab your book off the shelf, hold it in your hands and think about the journey that got you to where you are.
Be thankful. Pat yourself on the back. Now get back to that next project. Write, dammit!!