Have fun, entertain yourself, stay in the moment, detach from the outcome
Too many writers I know are perpetually depressed at the end of each month or each quarter when they receive royalty statements. Like clockwork, they lament that they are taking time off because "it's just not worth it" or they're quitting forever because they can't "find their niche." These are ego-driven reactions based on external forces and, at the end of the day, are useless to you as a creative professional.
Your Amazon ranking, bestseller status (which is highly suspect these days with so many claiming the title without actually earning it), social media followers, and what not have nothing to do with your intentions for your work. They have even less to do with your ultimate success.
I make my living solely as an author, editor and graphic artist--a soloprenuer. I have no safety net--no "day job". This is my full-time career. In fact, one third of the American workforce is now freelancing. What this means is that there are millions of people in the United States who don't have a guaranteed paycheck and whose income fluctuates. You, as an author, are not a special little snowflake so you need to ask yourself this question: is this your hobby or career?
If it's your hobby, then why are you freaking out? Any extra money generated from a hobby is 'fun money.' Relax and enjoy.
If it's your career, then suck it up and start acting like a business person.
Despite the roller coaster ride of being a solopreneur, I am not freaking out every month, resorting to sketchy tactics to get reviews, watching my "ranking" every day (I'm on so many different distributors that such an activity would be silly), or caring about what my peers are doing. No, I don't want to become homeless. I still have a mortgage to pay and kids in college. My behavior is focused purely on enjoying my job, thinking "big picture" at all times, and removing minute distractions from my to-do list. The result is that I am detached from the outcome--if one book sells better than another, that's fine. I don't look backward because I am continuously moving forward with new projects, marketing plans, and networking for opportunities.
So today I need you to ask yourself what's more important--your overall career or your Amazon ranking at this precise moment in time (keeping in mind that it changes in a blink of an eye)? If you want to succeed in this business, you need to detach from the outcome once your book hits the marketplace. If you've done your due diligence with professional editing, proofreading, revising, etc, then you have done the best that you could do on that project and it's time to move on to the next. Promote it, of course, I'm not saying otherwise. Marketing is the cornerstone of all business. I am, however, saying that getting caught up on the inconsequential trappings of so-called success to the point that it forces you into producing crap just to have a constant "new release" to keep up with so-and-so is stupid and self-sabotaging behavior.
Every single month I hear the same thing: "I'm doing everything to promote and can't sell anything." Well, are you really doing everything you can or are you actually making excuses? If given advice, do you listen with an open mind or are you quick to shut it down because you think you know better despite your wailing about failing? Are you blogging? Are you interacting with your social media followers or simply blasting out "buy my book" links? Do you scoff at those who are succeeding because you think you are somehow better--while you commiserate with those in the same boat as you so you can remain safely in your comfort zone?
Ego is a dangerous thing. It gets in the way of your success. While telling you that you're better than so-and-so, it also whispers that maybe--just maybe--you suck in comparison. Ego-based actions create the stress and the self-doubt. Detach from all that bullshit and focus on the work at hand.
You will be a better writer if you detach yourself emotionally from the outcome--push your ego aside--and allow yourself to be entertained by your work. Be grateful that you're living the writer lifestyle because so many people locked away on commuter trains dream of doing what you're doing. Understand that you are an entrepreneur just like the guy who owns the local pub--incomes fluctuate monthly so spend and save wisely. Do you think the pub owner quits in a fit of self-pity if his sales aren't what they were last month? No. He simply puts up the open sign on another day, does his best to improve or experiments with strategies to get more people in the door next month--he doesn't throw a tantrum or a pity party because the pub across town is "perceived" as more successful. Instead, he works his butt off toward his big picture business plan.
You are a business person and creative professional--both those descriptions should clue you in to the fact that you need to embrace the broader vision. To succeed, you must be relentless.
Don't be that writer who pouts in a corner every month because your royalties were miniscule. Instead, remind yourself that this is your business, take a web class, reevaluate your marketing plan, slow down to create quality rather than producing quantity, open your mind to other ways of conducting business, be professional at all times, continue to improve your craft, and have fun with your writing.
Never. Quit. Don't allow ego to sabotage you any longer.
Amber Lea Easton
Author, Editor, Graphic Artist, Lover of Life
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.