Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing


A Topic So Large I Have Considered Writing a Book About It…

Expectations are both powerful and deadly to writers. But to early stage writers, mostly deadly.

A positive expectation can come from experience. For example, back in traditional publishing days, when I was hired by a publisher to write a book, they had an expectation that I could do the job and I had an expectation I could do the job.

I like testing myself with writing challenges. I always go into them with an expectation that I can hit the challenge and that gives me fuel to keep going on tough days.

When I send a story to an editor of anthology or magazine, I expect it to sell. I’m not upset if it does not, part of the business, but when I mail it, I do so with the expectation it will sell.

(Don’t get me started with the writers who mail a story to a market because of the rejection time being quick…)

But in this large topic tonight, I only want to talk about one expectation that fits into last night’s topic some. Early stage indie writers hear all this stuff about promotion and think they have to do it so they spend a lot of wasted money. And they hear all this stuff about needing to write 20 books so they forget about learning craft and other skills to keep readers reading. They can finish novels, what do they need to learn. Without learning included, that is just typing.

But the expectation becomes deadly when a false expectation does not come true.

“I’ve written 20 books, got them all out wide, how come they are not selling?”

That comes from an expectation that they should be selling without you doing anything but typing them out.

Oops… doesn’t work that way.

The 20 Books to 50K expectation needs to have the phrase added “…if you kept learning and did a lot of things right.”

Oh, trust me, I got far, far more than 20 novels in print that don’t sell one copy per year. Of course, I have others that sell hundreds a month. We have five of my favorite novels coming up in a Kickstarter at the end of the month that I don’t think sold more than a few copies all of last year. We know why and we are fixing the problem with a Kickstarter.

If you have close to that magic discoverability point of 20 major books and you are still not gaining sales, time to ask why. That is the only way to get through the deadly expectation that will cause you to quit writing.  You need to be honest with yourself and ask why. Ask questions.

Questions like…

  • 1… While writing those twenty books, were you still learning and practicing each book? Studying other authors, taking classes, reading writing books?
  • 2… Do your covers (art and font and titles) match the genre.
  • 3… Is your sales copy full of passive verbs and tells the reader your plot.
  • 4… When a reader does buy one of your books, do they buy more? Or are most of your sales one and done. You have ending issues if that is the case.
  • 5… Have you been building a mailing list and a Shopify store?
  • 6… Are you doing regular Kickstarters to promote your work.
  • 7… Are you selling short stories to major magazines in the same genre?

And so on…

So when listening to yourself be driven by an expectation, be careful. Publishing is not an exact science. A does not always follow B.

Don’t let a false expectation planted from who knows where kill the joy in your writing.





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