My trackpad finger is sore a lot these days, and I’ve been getting twitches in the muscles of my right (trackpad) arm. This is all too familiar. This is what happens when I’m on the computer all the time.
I’ve been hitting the marketing pretty hard lately, mostly in ways people wouldn’t even notice. Whether by coincidence, or because of the awards and honors I’ve been given lately, or because of all my marketing efforts, or something else, sales have picked up a good deal in the last week or so. (From past experience, though, I’m reserving excitement until I see it continue for a good while; often I get a small and exciting run of sales, and then sales drop off completely for days or weeks.)
When I noticed this last night, I was excited but I also felt that hot sting of impending tears rising behind my eyes. Why? Because it’s all so hard. The work is so hard and, if you’re trying to truly succeed, it never ends. It never ends. If you let up for a minute, the sales reflect that. You have to keep on keeping on. Never give up. Never a chance to rest.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to my writing group about marketing. If I’m remembering right, everyone in the group is very serious about publishing, and has a work in progress, but none that I can recall had anything published yet.
As people posed questions, I realized: many of these people wanted to know the shortcuts. They wanted the direct path to success. Totally understandable; if someone could give me shortcuts or certain success, you can believe I’d listen! But here’s the thing, and this is very important to realize: there are no shortcuts.
This is what I want to tell anyone who is hoping to publish: You have to be prepared for how hard it is. You have to be prepared to do a ton of work and not see any rewards, for months or years, but still believe that ultimately it will pay off. Certainly there are people who make it right away, who have a book that catches the world’s attention with hardly any work on the author’s part, and for your sake, I hope that’s you. But if you are hoping to publish, please, be prepared to be discouraged. Very discouraged. A lot.
My first book came out in March 2011, so I’ve been at this marketing thing for nearly two years now. Thankfully I can say the moments of despair are much fewer and further between than they used to be. The toil is familiar now; I just dig in and do it. I still expect that it’s all going to pay off in spades one day. I still believe this is my path. I still believe everything I’ve done and continue to do to try to promote my books and my brand is worth it. But there still come those times when the tears start to come and I’m feeling overwhelmed and I think, “Why does it have to be so hard?”
If you’ve chosen the writing path too, good for you! People need stories. Just know now that the writing, believe it or not, is the easy part. The hardest part comes after the book is out there. Prepare yourself. Be determined. Be ready to persevere. The discouragement will come, again and again.
If you want a writing life, you have to want it. I mean WANT IT. That means you have to be ready to try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, and keep going, again and again. You have to be willing to put in the time and energy and effort to learn everything you can to help yourself succeed – and be willing to keep trying, even if the success doesn’t come right away. Or sort of right away. Or for a really long time. If you only want shortcuts and the easy route, you might not be ready. So decide now, before you go any further: do you really, truly want it?