So, we've talked a lot about writing on this blog (duh) lately, but one thing we haven't explored too much is the business side of writing, so that's sort of vaguely what today's topic is about.
First, though, a bit about where I'm coming from: it's been over seven months already since my debut book sold. Seven months! When it sold, and we started talking Fall 2014 as a release date, one of my first thoughts was "this next year and a half is going to take foreverrrrrr".
|Is it Fall 2014 yet?|
But um, well, no. My (tentative) release date is September 16, 2014, which means I'm already coming up on only a year to go! And that's a bit...scary. And before you all attack me with pitchforks and shouts of STOP WHINING AT LEAST YOU HAVE A BOOK DEAL, hear me out, because I want to tell you some things that I'm slowly learning as the months blur by and I get closer to "published author".
The title of this post is "Letting Go of Things You Can't Control". And here's why this is crucial to not going crazy if you want to make a career out of this writing gig: because there is a heck of a lot you can't control.
You can't control trends. Readers are loving sci-fi this year, but by next year maybe they'll be over it. Bad news for my book.
You can't control what other authors are doing/writing/etc.... Want an almost surefire way to send yourself into a downward spiral? Go to Publisher's Weekly, go to Goodreads, look for any deals/ upcoming books that sound similar to yours. Then have fun mourning the fact that they're going to be out before your book, and that those authors are better-connected and more popular than you, and then you can sob uncontrollably in the corner while you think of your poor little similarly themed/plotted/etc... book getting left in Popular Author's dust. It's lots of fun, trust me.
You can't control what's going on in publishing. It's easy to get caught up in all of the doom and gloom headlines, talks of more brick and mortar stores closing, participate in the ongoing battle between traditional publishing and self-publishing, etc...And while there's nothing wrong with being informed with industry news, at some point it's all only a distraction--only an excuse to keep you from writing, because "if the publishing industry is circling the drain (which I don't think it is, for the record)", then why bother?
You can't control--at least not completely-- how well your book ultimately sells. I don't have personal experience with this yet, of course, but I know people who do. I know people whose books are doing well, others...not so well. Books--even big ones with huge marketing budgets-- sometimes just flop. It's like anything in entertainment; some books just don't find the exact right people, the right readers, the right booksellers who will passionately get the word out about it (and as a former small-business owner, I can tell you that nothing sells like that wonderful thing known as word-of-mouth). Granted, you can do everything you can: be active on social media, join other writing groups for support, go to conference, that sort of thing to try and up your chances of your book finding the right people--but in the end, there are still no guarantees. If there was an exact formula for selling a crazy amount of books, and publishers/authors knew it, don't you think they'd all be using it?
So. As an upcoming debut author, all of these things run through my head on a daily basis (trust me: you do NOT want to be in my head right now; it's a crazy place). Everyone might not be like me, though. I'm a bit of a control freak, I'll be the first to admit--and I don't like leaving things to chance or luck if I can help it. But if you ARE like me, then here's a secret for you: focus on what you have the most control over. Because there is, at least, one thing you do.
And what is that, you ask?
Regardless of where you are in the writing game, whether aspiring, agented, to-be-published, whatever, the answer is always the same: writing. You're a writer. Everything else is just white noise. At the end of the day, you can control the words on paper, and that's about it. But hopefully, if you focus hard enough and learn to control that well enough, then everything else will fall into place.
Stefanie Gaither writes YA novels about killer clones and spaceships, with the occasional romp with dragons and magic-users thrown in for good measure. Said writing is generally fueled by an obscene amount of coffee and chocolate, as well as the occasional tennis and/or soccer break. She's represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary, and her debut novel, FALLS THE SHADOW, is forthcoming from Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2014. You can add it on Goodreads here!
You can find her on Twitter @: https://twitter.com/stefaniegaither
Or drop her an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And also visit her website @: www.stefaniegaither.com