Tom Evans is the author of Blocks: The Enlightened Way to Clear Writer’s Blocks. Follow him on Twitter at @thebookwright.
#2: The Fear of Failure
The best way to avoid failure is not to try in the first place. Nobody can have a dig at you for the quality of your writing, or the number of copies of your book you have sold, if you haven’t written it. The same holds true for a new invention, product or service in business.
The signs that this is happening in your life are:
- Giving up at the first hurdle
- Being overly affected by rejection letters
- If you err on the side of the glass being half empty
“At least I know 10,000 things that don’t work,” said Edison when looking for the perfect material for the electric light filament.
Failure is a relative term.
Let’s say you only sold one copy of your book but the person who read it was inspired by it and went on themselves to write a best seller, or change the world, you could rightfully argue that your book was successful.
I think we all agree Dan Brown is one of the most successful authors in history, yet his books attract all kinds of criticism – especially his latest The Lost Symbol. Now I’ve not met Dan Brown but I am guessing he’s not too bothered about this. His aim was probably more to entertain than to write a literary classic – and to make money – so he can be rightfully proud of his achievement of his goals.
So with your first book, a good strategy to avoid failure is to set the parameters up that constitute success – these are all perfectly acceptable for first time authors:
- completion of your manuscript
- having a copy of a book you have written in your hands
- signing a copy for a reader
- getting your first review
- learning the in’s and out’s of the publishing process
- it opens a door, or makes a connection, for you that your wouldn’t have stepped through otherwise
On top of this, any amount of actual sales is a real bonus and any book that sells over even 1,000 copies can be seen as a success for a first timer.
Strategies for Successful Submissions
So if you are submitting a manuscript for submission to a publisher, here’s how to guarantee you cannot possibly fail.
- Check with the publisher’s or agent’s web site that they are taking submissions – this avoid failure at the first hurdle
- Read their submission guidelines and adhere to them
- If you get a rejection, like Edison, learn from it especially if they give you feedback. If they don’t you at least know that they are not right for you or your manuscript at this time.
- Do not get angry at them or yourself
- When you get accepted, celebrate and shout from the rooftops to give yourself a deserved pat on the back and to encourage others.
So in summary, there is no failure, only learning. The real failures are those who don’t try.
Next week: The Fear of the Unknown