I keep getting emails from various experts talking about their programs to help people write or launch a bestseller. And I keep clicking on them because what they are promising is so tempting — this idea that you can take any book, no matter the content, no matter the style, no matter the structure, and turn it into a bestseller. I scan the websites and the promises and then dismiss them, but they keep nagging at my brain because there are a vast number of people clicking and buying into these programs, which means that there are a vast number of people being led to believe that the hard part of getting a book into the world comes after you write it.
I mean YES, launching a book is really hard. The recent post by Paul Jarvis about the launch of his new book, Company of One, is an exhaustive and generous and incredibly helpful look at the reality of what launching really takes — namely time, effort, energy, money, grit, determination, belief in yourself and your work, and a thousand other things. And having someone who knows what they are doing walk you through that process would be enormously helpful. There are no more bitter writers than those whose books have been published to little fanfare, little acclaim, and little impact.
But. But. BUT. My company, Author Accelerator, is in the business of helping writers write their books. We coach them with weekly deadlines, and phone calls, and emails of support on the days when they are doubting or tired or confused. We are there to help them define their idea, commit to it, and bring it to life, word by word. We help hundreds of writers in this intensive one-on-one human-centered work and I can promise that what they are doing is extremely daunting and extremely hard.
Writing is about raising your voice in a world that doesn’t always want to hear it.
It’s about claiming your power as a person who can speak with authority, who can bring her vision to life, who can say, “This is what I believe.”
It’s about trusting your vision and strengthening your imagination.
It’s about doing the work, day after day, when there are jobs to do and kids to feed and dogs to walk and cars that break down and no guarantee — really none — that the book will impact anyone. It’s about making time and space for a creative act in a world that doesn’t always value it.
For many writers, they are battling against doubts that are deeply entrenched from people who once upon a time didn’t think — or still don’t think — that they have anything worthwhile to say.
To say that the work of writing a book is not the hardest part of the process?
Well first of all, it’s all hard. Creating anything and trying to get people to pay attention has always been and will always be a challenge for the 99.9% of us who aren’t native geniuses.
And second of all, you can’t launch a book that doesn’t exist. You can’t market a book that isn’t finished. I mean actually, yes you CAN do that, and people do it all the time. They launch books that are half baked, ill-conceived, and poorly executed. I really wish they wouldn’t, and I feel certain a lot of readers would agree.
But you can’t successfully launch a book that isn’t finished. You can’t spin a bestseller from a bunch of words on the page. You can’t leap over the hard part of writing well.
I have taken a stand on the writing side of the publishing equation. I stand here in solidarity and support of the writers doing the incredibly hard work of getting their books out of their heads and onto the page. And I want all those writers to know that it’s hard. And it’s not going to get easier once you finish. The marketing and launch of the book will be hard. The harsh critiques from readers and reviewers will be hard. The reality of sales will be hard. If you happen to sell the book to the movies, even that will be hard. If you have another idea and want to start the creative process all over again, that will be hard.
But hard is good. Throwing yourself into a difficult challenge and doing your best to accomplish your goals is good for building your writing muscle and good for your soul.
So if you are writing and struggling and not anywhere near ready to launch your book, ignore the click bait and keep the faith.
And if you fall into the temptation of thinking that anyone can guarantee you a bestseller, or that there is one sure path to big sales and big success, think again, and then get back to work.
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