Taking that big leap - exhilaration or fear?
Last week my newest Kerry Anne King novel, Everything You Are, launched into the world as an Amazon First Reads selection for September.
If you don’t know about First Reads, it’s an awesome promotional opportunity in which Amazon makes a selection of eight novels available through its Prime Reads program a month before their official release. The books get a ton of visibility, often climb to the top of the Amazon Kindle bookstore, and accumulate reviews before publication day rolls around.
Exciting, right??? A dream come true!
In fact, when I got the notice that Everything You Are was up for this promotion, I screamed so loudly that the kids heard me from outside and wondered if something was wrong!
Add Success, Activate Demons
And then the book came out, and my demons were instantly activated.
I started stressing about where my book was falling in the pack of eight First Reads. Horror of horrors, it wasn’t sitting at the top! In fact, it was hanging out in the bottom half! Never mind that the bottom half is in the top of Kindle store and this is the kind of marketing I couldn’t even begin to pay for.
My brain got started on a comparison spiral, and from there it went into absolute disaster mode. The book, which isn’t even actually released yet, mind, was going to be a total failure. My publisher would be disappointed and never want another book from me. My career would be over. I’d be crawling back to my nursing job and spend the rest of my life in misery…
I used all of the writer mindset tools I teach to clients to help me manage the spiral. Emotional Freedom Technique to disrupt the negative thinking. Forgiveness work for my ingratitude and competitive attitude. Journaling to stay positive. It was all pretty much working until I got emotionally depleted (introvert at a writer’s conference) and all of my demons came out to trample me at once.
Which was when I realized that I needed to reach out to friends. I admit that I am very bad at asking for help. One of my self sabotaging behaviours, in fact, is always trying to do everything myself to prove that I don’t need anybody.
But I do. We all do. And so I let a couple of very good and wise writer friends know the space I was in, and Maddie Dawson, author of the fantastic novel Matchmaking for Beginners, responded with an email that took my breath away.
I’ve printed it off and it’s going to stay on my bulletin board where I can see it. I’m sharing it here with you, with Maddie’s permission, because I believe no matter where you are on your publishing and success journey these are words that you need to hear.
Wise Words from a Friend
“You are going to be okay. I think we can all relate to this panicky feeling you're experiencing, having been there so many times. It is such a familiar spot to fall into--it's like a habit that our brains go back to again and again, worrying and fretting that everything is going to come to an embarrassing, crashing and dramatic end.
We're going to have to go back to our real jobs, or subsist on beans and rice for the rest of our lives. We can already hear the hoofbeats and imagine all too well the email or the phone call when we're told that we're not getting any more books published, no one reads us anymore, and we might as well face that we were hacks all along. The greeter job at Walmart is where we truly belong.
That being said, none of this is real. NONE NONE NONE. You are a wonderful, excellent, fantastic writer and a successful author, and, with all due respect, you must stop checking your numbers. You must. Tell yourself whatever you have to: you're going to take a little numbers break, you're going to send your numbers on vacation to New Zealand and they're not going to be available to you for a while.
Stop reading your wonderful reviews, (they are anxiety-producing, too) and for God's sake, stop seeing how the backlist is doing, just stop everything. Even the good stuff--the reading of your many fun and glowing reviews. Trust that all is going so well. Even if the last time you checked, it wasn't as perfect as you wanted it to be, trust that now all is fine.
Because this stuff can make you crazy. And you can't control it. You can't change it. All you can do is worry about it. Lucky for you, I am reading the book you recommended--The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, so I am in a position to remind you of his very wise words--which is that worry is simply a sign of a Big Leap moment coming your way. Worry only about the things you can do something about--which this is decidedly not.
Worry, Hendricks says, is simply an Upper Limit problem. You have been doing so well, and now your mind is terrified that you've exceeded what you were "allowed" to accomplish and that punishment--low sales, etc., etc.--is coming your way.
But it's not true. Your book will fluctuate up and down, up and down. Trust that the readers meant to find it will find it. The ones meant for your book will seize upon it. You have to trust it to find its readership.
Trust, trust, trust. Read The Big Leap again. Do what you most love. You are so so good at the things you choose to do...and right now this is just a little moment of fear, a little spasm you're going through. Some good news will come soon.
Turn to the better-feeling thoughts, even if right now they have nothing to do with your book. Just wait it out. Be gentle with yourself. Feeling fear is a sign that you're growing in some way. You have a new book clamoring to be written. Do that. Immerse yourself. Treat yourself like a person who needs nurturing and healing.
The runup to publication is a really stressful time, and you've been doing a lot of events to birth this book into the world, and now perhaps you're taking its temperature a little bit too often. Just redirect your thoughts whenever you start feeling afraid. When the thoughts come up that all is not well, say to yourself, "Nope. That's not real. Everything is going perfectly. It's all unfolding just the way it should. I am reaching readers, I am creating more stories, I am loving this work and my life."
I’m sharing this with you so you will know that if you have these kinds of thoughts, you are not alone. The whole writing community is right here with you. We are so hard on ourselves. So quick to accept criticism and so challenged at acknowledging and celebrating success.
Which is exactly why I am offering the Dancing with Your Demons transformational class, starting September 26. We need each other in order to heal from our writer wounds. We need support and companionship as we learn to shift old beliefs, to accept success, to allow ourselves to rise to each new level.
Begin in small ways by refocusing on all that is good. Come back to the joy of the creative process over and over and over again.
When you fall prey to your own inner voices, accept that this is common to us all and reach out to your writer friends. We will be waiting to pick you up, dust you off, and remind you that you are engaged in glorious work.