Writing, Goals and Discouragement

We’re now less than a month away.

June 27, 2014 is the day by which I was to have sold 10,000 copies of my book Your First 1000 Copies.

It’s now mid-June, and I’ve sold 8770.

I had big plans for the month of June, to help me close that gap. In fact, I had two separate big promotions planned. But due to situations beyond my control, they’ve fallen through or been delayed.

Based on past performance, those promotions would have spurred on an extra 1,000 sales.

What does this mean?

It means I’m probably not going to hit my goal of selling 10,000 copies of my book in one year.

Surviving the numbers

This is really discouraging, for a number of reasons.

First of all, it’s embarrassing. Seven months ago, I very publicly proclaimed my 10,000-copies-sold goal. Now there’s a good chance I’ll very publicly miss that goal.

Second, my best-laid plans have fallen through and left me scrambling with very few options on a goal I thought I had locked down.

Third, this is something I personally wanted to achieve.

But there’s something even bigger at play here — bigger than my missing that 10k goal.

And that is the fact that discouragement is always a part of book marketing endeavors.

Every achievement brings about a new chance for a letdown.

I’ve talked to authors who have sold more than 100,000 copies of their new book, who are disappointed and discouraged because it didn’t sell as many copies as their last book sold. Or as many as their friend’s book.

I’m discouraged because I’m the “book marketing guy” and may miss my own book marketing goal.

Maybe you’re discouraged because you’ve released a book and have struggled to sell in the triple digits.

Or discouraged because your outreach efforts aren’t working.

Or because you can’t seem to even find the time to write.

How do we deal with discouragement?

This morning I spent some time alone, re-centering and figuring out what to do next.

I don’t want to walk in discouragement. It’s only going to stunt my creativity and keep me from doing great work.

So what steps do you and I take to get out of discouragement?

1. Think about what you’ve accomplished.

I’ve sold almost nine-friggin-thousand books! In a world where most books sell 250 copies or less, that’s a big accomplishment! Throw in the fact that it’s a very niche book by a first-time author, and I have a lot to be proud of.

You have a lot to be proud of too!

Most people dream about writing a book and you actually did it! How fantastic is that?

Focus on what you’ve accomplished, and how far you’ve come.

2. Think about how you’ve made the world a better place.

I get emails daily from readers thanking me for writing Your First 1000 Copies. I’m almost up to 150 reviews on Amazon.

I’ve helped people.

And they’ve helped me. Last week I read three different books. All of them were great and added enjoyment and knowledge to my life. That’s three different authors who made my life measurably better.

If you’ve written a book, you’ve helped people, and that’s something to be proud of.

3. Focus on the long term.

You’re probably sick of seeing this quote from me by now, but it’s one of my favorites:

“Do you want to be a writer or just somebody who wrote a book once?”

These short-term discouragements will seem meaningless in 2 years, 5 years, 20 years. You won’t even remember them.

And another thing: If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

Yesterday I was chatting with an indie author who is doing well, but still working to break into real success. But the beauty is, he’s laying the foundation for future success.

This year he’ll do OK. Next year he’ll do better. The year after that, he’ll struggle to remember what it felt like to struggle.

Even with these setbacks I’ve had, when I look back at where I’ve come from and then forward to where I’m going, I can see that this is just a small bump in the road, not a huge boulder blocking my way.

4. Wallow for a bit, then move on.

If you’re working towards something and it falls through, give yourself to permission to be upset. Have a friend take you out for drinks. Cry. Bitch and moan to your significant other.

It’s OK to admit discouragement.

But don’t live there.

After you’ve given yourself some time, open up your experimental mindset again, and move on to the next project.

When will success come?

Discouragement is always a part of the journey.

Behind every successful writer is a backstory full of slammed doors and rejections.

If you’re feeling discouraged now, know that you’re walking a well-trodden path.

And assuming you’re not going to give up (and I know you’re not), know that that same road will ultimately lead to your success.

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