How Perfectionism & Expectations Darkened My Writing Joy

Or why Tony Stark is my new model for a sustainable author life

Cassandra C. Stirling
The Masterpiece

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I published my first book in September 2021. I had high expectations but not egregiously high. I didn’t expect bestseller status, but I hoped I could sell at least 250 books in my first year — the bare average an author can expect these days, whether traditionally or self-published. But that was not the case, and the disappointment hit me hard. It rooted its way into my soul and tarnished the joy that drove me to write in the first place.

I’ll write the next one, I told myself. Everyone says you need a backlist to be successful. To make money. To be an author. To be valued. To have worth.*

So, I wrote books two and three, but without a plan or much of a plot. It took me six months and multiple edits to get the second book into some semblance of a story I wanted to put out there. It sold even less.

And some part of my soul slunk off to the shadows to hide.

I rallied and wrote a short story, one I hoped to use as a reader magnet to entice those readers in. Once they read my story, it would spread and more people would read it. That’s how it works, I told myself. I built my email list. I engaged in promotions. I spread the word. And the word…

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Cassandra C. Stirling
The Masterpiece

Writer, editor, writing coach, and videogamer. I write about writing, books, and occasionally videogames.