Some Things Are Out of Our Control

As I look ahead to the coming months, I’m excited at the numbers of writing friends who will be publishing their books for the first time. In fact, in the next six months or so, I have four writer friends debuting with books I’ve endorsed (or am in the process of reading for endorsement purposes).

As I watch many of these friends embark on the debut publication experience, I’m glimpsing a wide spectrum of emotions from heavenly elation to paralyzing fear and everything in between. Watching my friends is bringing back all those similar feelings I experienced at my debut.

We try to get everything just right so we can have the best possible success. We want to have the perfect launch party, an effective blog tour, the most interviews, and the right amount of giveaways. We increase our web presence, and we do all we can possibly think of.

And that’s only natural.

But in the midst of all the busyness, our emotions ping-pong back and forth. One day we’re sure we’re doing everything we can. And the next day we worry that we aren’t doing enough.

Anytime we embark on something new whether we’re querying for the first time or entering a contest or going to a writer’s conference, we go through the gamut of emotions: excitement to fear, confidence to doubt, enthusiasm to weariness. And worry. We end up worrying a lot.

When I look in hindsight on my debut and everything else I’ve done, I’m not sure that I’d do anything differently . . . except for perhaps worry less.

We should be as diligent as possible in marketing and promoting our books or getting them ready for contests or for querying. Do all we can. Put forth one hundred percent effort to help our books stand out.

But . . . even though I work really, really hard to do everything “right,” there are still authors who don’t tweet or blog or have a lot of online connections, and for whatever reason they rise faster and shine brighter.

When striving for success in the publishing industry, I’m learning there’s only so much we can humanly do, that ultimately the rest is out of our hands. Whether we’re seeking an agent, book contract, or aiming for a best seller, there are some factors we can’t control. All the worrying in the world won’t change those factors.

I was reminded of this recently when I read an article that described step-by-step how The Hunger Games became a blockbuster hit. I was fascinated how strategic Scholastic was with their marketing.

The marketing department did numerous things to start the buzz about the book many months in advance of release. So much went on behind the scenes to get the early copies of the books into the right hands at the right times.

Sales reps were particularly strategic with their attempts to get the ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) into the hands of prominent reviewers also called “Big Mouths,” which is children’s publishing lingo for booksellers who have exceptional influence with co-workers and peers. And then the Big Mouths had to get excited and spread the chatter to their circles.

What struck me was how many factors were involved in making the book successful. Many, many, many. Too many factors for most of us to ever dream about. Too many factors that are completely out of our control.

The article reiterated to me that I personally can only do so much.

I need to be faithful with the little that I’m given. I need to work diligently with my talents. I need to continue learning and doing whatever is within my scope of possibility.

But then . . .

I need to remember not to worry about the rest, that it will happen in its time . . . if it’s meant too. No amount of fretting will make anything happen faster. Checking Amazon rankings or reviews won’t make them improve. And obsessing over what more I can do to turn my books into blockbusters won’t help.

All we can do is put our heart into writing the best stories possible and do everything we can to help market them. Then we have to step back, stop worrying, and remember to enjoy the journey.

Are you doing all that you can and being faithful to use your talents wisely? But do you also find yourself worrying about things that are out of your control or wishing for more than you have? Do you need to stop worrying so much and relax a little more?

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