In this continuing series, I will show you how not to give a fuck about your book rejections, bad reviews, and disappointing sales. Please see the table of contents at the bottom of this post for more in this series.
One of the best things about being an author is the ability to keep growing. With every step we take on our journey, new lessons are learned either through experience or continuing education. Just think of the knowledge you can gather in one day's worth of blog reading or Facebook group posting! The knowledge out there is unlimited, and you are a sponge soaking it up. You can easily not give a fuck about dismal sales as long as your craft is getting better, your marketing is getting savvier, and your books are getting more professional. Not only are you improving but that time you spend learning is time you don't spend agonizing over shit you can't control.
I have a couple of suggestions to get you started on the road to being a smarter artist!
First, I never discount getting another degree, but if you plan to self-publish for the foreseeable future, I don't recommend getting an MFA. MFA's are wonderful, indeed, and if you plan to write literary fiction, by all mean, have at it. If you write genre fiction and publish it yourself, welcome to the school of hard knocks instead. You have a lot to learn!
Here's how I do it. Each year, I set new learning goals for myself so that I always have something to fall back on if things get really dire. Last year, I wanted to learn more about story structure, outlining, and social media advertising. Whenever I was feeling down about a horrible book launch or a sales rank in the millions, I threw myself into studying up on one of my chosen topics. This year, I wanted to learn more about Excel and mailing lists, and wouldn't you know it? I've had a down period of about five months and I have learned everything I need to know about MailChimp and automation. Not only is it helping my business, but it's helping me not give a fuck about not writing. (Though I admit that I'll be writing later today because I'm very ready to start again!)
Armed with new knowledge, I'm able to focus my energy towards making my career either easier, more robust, or more streamlined. So even though I can't control my sales or when some troll comes along and leaves 1-star ratings on all my books on Goodreads (it happens to everyone at some point in their career!), I can control the quality of my work that I publish. That, in turn, will (hopefully) alleviate some of the negative feedback, which means I will not have to work as hard to not give a fuck about those things I can't control. (There were a lot of double negatives in there but I think you catch my meaning).
Some ideas about continuing your writing and publishing education include:
- Learning more about the software you use to write (tutorials on using Word, Scrivener, etc).
- Learning more about the software you use to publish (Photoshop, Canva, GIMP, InDesign, etc tutorials).
- Learning more about the software you use to organize your writing business (Excel, etc. tutorials).
- Reading writing craft books (Save the Cat, Story Grid, Story Structure, Voice, Dialogue, World Building).
- If you self-publish, there are literally hundreds of things to study: learning about proper English grammar and syntax, formatting ebooks and paperbacks, understanding translations and world rights, legalities of copyright, best practices in anthologies or publishing an omnibus, audiobook narration and production, etc.
The choices are endless. You could tackle several things a year and not really scratch the surface of all you could learn. And while you're learning all of this awesome stuff, you're not giving a fuck about those reviews are you?
Nope. No fucks are given.
I see lots of newer authors come into this business wishing they had all the same information and knowledge that people who have been doing this for a long time have. But if you make plans to conquer new knowledge and continue your education every day, every month, every year, you'll be up to speed in no time and forgetting about those non-existent sales or checking your email a billion times per day waiting on that agent to get back to you.
This is honestly the best kind of distraction. Lots of people distract themselves with things like TV or video games, and while those have their place, nothing is better for your career than distracting yourself with education!
What are you learning about currently? What would you suggest others learn about that will help them stay distracted but succeed as well?
Table of Contents for the How Not To Give A F*ck About Your Book Rejections, Bad Reviews, and Disappointing Sales Series
- Negative To Positive
- Keep Learning
- Get A Hobby
- Refill The Well
- Just Don't Look!
- Temper Your Expectations