What if your book disappoints you? Most of my clients report amazing opportunities that come out of publishing their books–new careers, travel, keynote speaking, national publicity, making a bigger impact than they ever imagined…but not everyone.
I recently e-mailed a client to ask about her post-publishing situation.
“Not good,” she wrote. There were the folks who let her down–businesses that seemed interested in promoting her book and then retracted. She also felt burned out after pounding the pavement to sell books with only lackluster sales to show for it.
The author pointed to the opening letter in my recent newsletter which claimed, “It’s bigger than your book.” For this author, she realized her vision wasn’t bigger than her book.
“I’ve been focusing on book sales rather than all the other stuff’, like the business plan and speaking about it. Because I do not want this book to label me, I’ve avoided many important steps.” In essence, the book didn’t quite resonate with her vision for herself and this dissonance kept her from a successful launch. And now she suffered from writers block.
I suggested this author take heart. Her story wasn’t that different from my own. After The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Anger came out, I realized how not-fun I found it to teach anger workshops. I floundered for a while and then received what felt like a download in yoga class one day. I realized I wanted to work with people’s creativity, not their anger. I began teaching people the steps I used to get into the creative zone. I called it “Magic for Your Muse” and, later “Writing in the Zone.”
Soon, people were coming to me for help with book proposals and guidance to write their books. I never could have predicted the career that invented itself before me. It mostly evolved organically. But all that work on the anger book wasn’t lost. In my new entrepreneurial career, I used everything I learned from that experience: how to write a book proposal, how to write a book, how to market a book, how to write a press release that results in national media, how to choose a great publicist, how to meet literary agents, how to write in the zone, how to break through writers block, how to write with collaborators and all the things NOT to do in the process–the mistakes to avoid.
The floundering part feels terrible. You question your sanity. All that time wasted. All that money you poured into publicity. What on earth is your next step? It’s hard to be in a space of not knowing.
That is, unless you recognize it for what it is. Not knowing is the thing that comes after a breakdown (a departure from the results you expected or wanted) and before a breakthrough. Not knowing is the thing that creates space for new possibilities, creative ideas, experiments in what might come next. And what might come next can be quite magical.
And, even if the book isn’t resonating so much for this author anymore, I am sure that there are readers whose lives will be transformed because of her book. It’s a good book, after all. A powerful book. Just not her final book.