This is something I posted on Facebook today and thought was worth sharing here as well.
Several years ago, I was having lunch with an author whose book had been expected by pretty much everyone to debut on the New York Times bestseller list, but hadn't. I knew how depressed he must be feeling. I couldn't imagine what a failure I would feel like if I was in that situation. How had I let down my publisher, my readers, my family, myself?
But he told me something that day, that I've tried to hang onto ever since. As an author, all you can control is how much you write and how good it is. All the rest is out of your hands. You can't control if an agent will like your work, if a publisher will buy it, what kind of marketing and publicity it will get, what stores will carry it, who will review it and how. And most of all, how much it sells. That is totally out of your control.
Some people think that self-publishing will change all that. And while it does give you a little more control over some things, it doesn't have much effect at all on most of those things. There are amazing books that I read and think how did this not sell millions of copies? Then I read other books and think how did this even get published, none the less hit bestseller lists?
I've had times when I thought my publisher must hate me. There was no other reason for how badly things were going. I've also had times where great things happened that I would never have predicted in a million years. And the crazy thing is, the writing in those books was exactly the same.
It would be so great if all you had to do was write a great book and it would soar to the bestseller lists. Then, if your book did badly, at least you could blame it on bad writing. It would stink to know your book was garbage, but you'd know where to point the blame and you could make sure the next one was better.
The only thing I can say to people having those same frustrations I've experienced is do not stop writing. You have this incredible talent and if you don't use it, you're wasting it. Through all the ups and downs, the only thing that has remained consistent is that I keep writing books and keep trying to make them better.
I won't lie. I have dreams of hitting the lists. I'd love to walk into bookstores and have people know who I am (or even know my books!) I'd love to sell a million books. But if it doesn't happen, I don't want to be because I gave up.