Enemies of The Art Part 9–Not Failing Enough

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The Wright Brothers. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

You want to know my favorite part about the new publishing paradigm? It allows us to fail. I know you might think I’m crazy, but failure is the most vital ingredient to success. When I was researching for my new book, I studied the Wright Brothers and this is a story I feel every writer needs to hear.

The Wright brothers were not engineers and held no fancy degrees. They actually got their start in the bicycle business. At the turn of the century, bicycles were all the rage, but a lot of the designs were flat out dangerous. The bikes were difficult for the rider to control and accidents were frequently fatal.

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“Ordinary” Bicycle from late 1800s. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The Wright brothers were determined to build a bicycle that was safer and easier to maneuver and maintain control, and after many attempts, they were successful. In fact, the bicycle design used today? We can thank the Wright brothers for that.

At the time, there was another race going on. Man wanted to take flight. Most people believed that the fancy Ivy League engineers would be the first in flight. These scientists were educated and had state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories. They also had loads of cash from government and private funding.

The problem, however, was two-fold. First, the “smart” folks of the day envisioned navigating the medium of air to be the same as navigating water. They designed machines that were sturdy, stable and bulky (patterned off ships). The problem was that all of these designs never could get off the ground, so it was impossible to gather data to make necessary changes.

The Wright brothers were inspired with the idea of creating a machine that could fly, but it was their experience making bicycles that offered them a very different perspective. When it came to bicycles, they’d learned that focusing on a sturdy build ended in crashes. Instead, they sought to design in ways that allowed the rider to rapidly use shifts in body weight and balance to maintain control. They believed that airplanes needed to be the same.

The problem? They needed a way to test the theory.

The brothers decided to risk it all and take their operation to Kittyhawk, North Carolina because of the large areas of sand dunes. They believed, contrary to “expert” opinion, that a “flying machine” needed to be light so that it could actually get into the air. They knew they were in for a lot of crashes, but they also understood those crashes were vital to success.

Every time they launched a new prototype, they could gather important information as to why the airplane failed to remain in the air. Eventually, their design won out and that’s why they’re credited with inventing the airplane.

Their theories had been correct.

Lighter construction was better and emphasis on pilot control and maneuverability was paramount. No one believed these underdogs would win the race to control the air, but no one counted on their tenacity, their ability to ignore the “experts” and their positive relationship with failure.

We can learn a lot from them. In the old paradigm, writers wrote and failed in private. Since we were lucky to have one book out a year, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to launch our prototypes and see what worked. We had to rely on “experts” to determine what readers wanted. Still do.

The new paradigm has a lot in common with the medium of air. There are unseen updrafts, weather changes, and the wind shifts direction constantly. Indie authors, in many respects, have similar advantages to the Wright brothers. We can change, adapt and try new things. Is a cover working? No. Change it. Is the book too long? Try cutting it into smaller books and see what happens.

We can write more books and if the first one fails, we can read the reviews and know exactly what to change. We can write more books and better books until we eventually take flight.

Traditional authors don’t have an insider’s view of the market. They see the sales reports only a couple times a year and have no control over any changes. If people don’t like the formatting or there are errors in the text, the book can’t be changed. The cover is all but set in stone.

And this isn’t to bash traditional publishing. Rather, it is to show you guys that failure is necessary. Many writers who go traditional are no longer in a situation of sink or swim. If it works out?

Great!

But if it doesn’t, you can take to the sand dunes of Amazon and see what works and what flops. If you are persistent, committed and open to learning, then the only reason for complete failure is giving up.

We now have a way of launching our prototypes (books) into the market, maneuvering (maybe going with KDP select for a time), and changing (swapping book covers or pulling a book for major rewrite).

This is one of the reasons I am such a fan of writers blogging. It allows us to get our voice out there and see what connects. What falls flat? When I first started blogging, I was insecure. I took a lot of advice from the “experts.” Thus my writing was more rigid, academic and less emotionally accessible.

Then I embraced my ability to write humor. People started subscribing with greater frequency, but I’d gotten so fascinated with my own comedic schtick, that people frequently didn’t catch when I was just joking.

I once wrote a post making fun of Facebook. Feeling pressure from the new Google +, Facebook had decided to New and Improve and added feeds in the sidebar to look like Twitter. They also allowed people the option to “subscribe” (again, knocking off Twitter’s “follow”). I jokingly named this move Twit+. I fielded e-mails for weeks from writers in a panic because they didn’t know how to use Twit+.

Note to Self: Reign in the stand-up comedy.

The lesson in all of this? I failed. A lot. I could try new things. What happened if I posted once a week? Three times? Five times? What length was best? What tone? By trying and failing, I was able to adjust and change.

Too many writers want a thousand hits a day in the first month of blogging. They want the first book to be a mega-best-seller, and to do this, they beat us all half to death with marketing.

STOP!

If you aren’t to the level of success you want, go do some more failing. It’s good for you :D.

What are your thoughts? Are you warming up to the idea of failing? Are you excited or terrified of the new paradigm? Why?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

PajamaCon Winners were announced via e-mail, so no need to do it here.

February’s Winner for My Blog Contest is: Yolanda Renee. Please send your 5000 word Word document to kristen at wana intl dot com. Or your query (one page) or synopsis) max 5 pages (1000 words).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of March I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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  1. #1 by ravensquillz2013 on March 4, 2013 - 9:48 am

    So excited Kristen! Question, I’m so new at blogging … how do I link your book to my blog? Thanks!!!!!!!

  2. #2 by Lara on March 4, 2013 - 10:14 am

    Kristen, great reasons for going indie. You’re helping make my decision – thanks!

  3. #3 by juleseddy1 on March 4, 2013 - 10:15 am

    Kristen,
    Your tips and advice seem to come at just the right time for me! Thank you for your wisdom, for sharing, and for taking some of the fears and doubts out of being “out there” as a new writer/author. I am now looking forward to all my future failures! (totally kidding, but now I know it can be used as a tool!)

  4. #4 by Tracy Bermeo on March 4, 2013 - 10:19 am

    Failing is something I have learned to appreciate. When I’m not writing for fun, I’m creating and photographing recipes for a hyper-local news site. The early versions were good for what they were but the desire to connect more with readers led me to put more of my “mommy voice” in the post and to create better photos . The early failures have led to better recipes, prettier pictures, and ultimately a cookbook. Failure is good !

  5. #5 by Dawn Chartier on March 4, 2013 - 10:24 am

    Thanks for posting this, Kristen. As always, great advice. :-)

  6. #6 by David Erickson on March 4, 2013 - 10:26 am

    When I finished writing my first novel (well actually my second as I wrote my first when I was 14) I think I had a block buster. 66 rejection letters later I realized I needed to get more practice. I wrote my second and 65 rejection letters told me I still hadn’t gotten it right. So I wrote my third.

    One afternoon I got a letter from PublishAmerica requesting to see my novel. I hadn’t queried them, but was tickled pink. so I sent it off, accepted their contract even though I knew it wasn’t a good one, and was in 7th heaven when they sent me copies of my book.

    Major disappointment. They started off with a disclaimer that they hadn’t done any editing at the request of the author. Not true. They then told me the retail price of the book, soft cover, was $29.95. At that price the only people who would buy it are friends and relatives. When I questioned that I got reams of emails explaining why price didn’t matter. What planet do they live on, I thought. Took two years and a financial bribe for them to release me.

    Since I’d retained the electronic rights to my novel I had put it on Amazon and I earned in one week all that I’d been paid by PA in two years.

    What I also learned is that marketing boost sales. When I received an undeserved and cruelly unfair review, sales plummeted. I’d been active on the Kindle Forums discussing religion and I really pissed someone off. It called itself the Kindle Queen and mine was the only the second book this individual had reviewed and none since.

    I quit the forums and looked to other avenues for low cost or free promotions as I didn’t have the thousands that promoters demanded for their services. Sales moved back up a little. I didn’t have the time to really get into marketing and I know virtually nothing about online marketing (even though I have a business degree), so sales stagnated.

    Part of my nature is talking with others about issues that matter, so I got involved with some serious discussions on Face Book, made many new friends and now my web page hits are running close to 200 a week and the checks are getting bigger.

    I’m open to new methods and avenues, which is the reason I’ve subscribed to this blog and others. What I could really use is a hands-on mentor who understands online marketing. Wouldn’t hurt if I took a few classes in marketing, English and creative writing as well.

    Now I have the time to pursue this. Sure hope it works.

    • #7 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 4, 2013 - 11:03 am

      Marketing no longer works. People are too inundated with ads and promotion and they have “snow-blindness.” Create a community. Talk to people and network then write more books. Your time is better spent in a craft class than a marketing class :D.

  7. #8 by Kathie Firzlaff on March 4, 2013 - 10:29 am

    I love this concept. It really is all about failing, about willing to be bad until we become first okay, then good, and finally great! thanks for the great blog. I needed that reminder. :-)

  8. #9 by Julie Catherine on March 4, 2013 - 11:00 am

    Writing and self-publishing my own book is probably the best antidote to the ‘perfectionist syndrome’ that I’ve always suffered from … excellence is awesome, but the search for perfection is not recommended, as it tends to lead to insanity – mine! lol. Awesome post! :)

  9. #10 by K.B. Owen on March 4, 2013 - 11:10 am

    Hey, Kristen – thanks for the reminder smack upside the head! I don’t have to fear failure, I don’t have to feel guilty about failing. Wow. I need to tattoo those to my forehead. ;)

  10. #11 by Eugene Scott on March 4, 2013 - 11:31 am

    I read a biography of the Wright Brothers when I was in elementary school. It made me dream and I have never stopped dreaming. So too, Charles Lindbergh’s account of flying solo over the Atlantic. But I didn’t become a pilot, rather a writer. The line that will stick with me from your blog is “their positive relationship with failure.” I want this kind of relationship with failure. Thanks.

  11. #12 by cariwiese on March 4, 2013 - 11:40 am

    One of the biggest fears we have as writers is failure. A manuscript is a tangible piece of ourselves. Even though it shouldn’t, those pages contain a large chuck of our self-worth. Critiques can be painful. Rejection even more so. Thank you for reminding us that every single failure is one step closer to success. Besides, it is when we stop fearing failure that we open ourselves up to the creativity to write something truly amazing.

    • #13 by cariwiese on March 6, 2013 - 10:52 am

      *chunk (I’d blame it on auto-correct, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t comment on my phone *sigh*)

  12. #14 by howmyspiritsings on March 4, 2013 - 11:45 am

    Failing is tough, but you’re right it has to be done. It is not until we quit being willing to fail that we become failures.

  13. #15 by SweetSong on March 4, 2013 - 11:51 am

    Inspiring and terrifying. I’ve always been something of a perfectionist, so I know I don’t have the healthiest relationship with failure (although I’m working on it). That being said, to know the industry is changing in a way that brings new kinds of success… woohoo!

  14. #16 by Melissa Lewicki on March 4, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    I agree with SweetSong. Failing is not my best thing. The whole perfectionist thing so gets in the way. I read about a man once who actually was enrolled in a class to rid him of perfectionism. He declared in the first class that he was going to be the best darn non-perfectionist ever….

  15. #17 by Tracy Brogan on March 4, 2013 - 12:19 pm

    Another awesome post, Kristen!!! You have one of the few blogs I consider a Must-Read!!! Thanks for the great advice!

  16. #18 by poetjena on March 4, 2013 - 12:23 pm

    hello Kristin,

    I have arranged to have your blog posts stalk my email box for some time, but due to the nature of my incredible elusivity they have always managed to miss me by a hair.

    I´m not necessarily convinced that that has been a good thing however, you understand, as in some future corner of my life I still harbour a distant dream to sit in a bookstore and have the table I´m sitting at stormed by crazed fans…… hahaha….!!!!

    So now, I am sitting up paying proper attention, at least, at last to this latest entry of yours for which I have to thank a light case of bronchitis. Needless to say, I am leaving a comment here and as I understand it the prize for taking part in this little raffle is “even more words”!! Am I right?

    The easiest thing to do of course is just reblog this post and then I have my comment, a link to your blog and the mention of your book all rolled into one. Now is that not nothing less than efficient, German almost(?), and I am actually writing this from Germany as I speak!

    To be honest, I wish I were a more consistent writer, but I tend to stop talking to myself completely during certain times of the year, winter being the biggy.

    Well, enough of this waffle. With Spring around the corner, there´s hopefully a greater chance of being able to coax myself out of this self-imposed silence, shed at least one or two lame excuses for why I can´t write, crawl out of this place and sniff a milder flavoured air….

    in appreciation of your writerly wisdom!

    Ma-Li :-)

    • #19 by ravensquillz2013 on March 4, 2013 - 12:28 pm

      @ Ma-Li …. I LOVED your comment! Thank you for sharing from your heart …. deep out here in the corn fields of Iowa you connected to an old gal who needed to read it! Thank you so much! And thank you Kristen for your inspiring post yet again!

  17. #20 by creativityorcrazy on March 4, 2013 - 12:59 pm

    I’d rather call it rejection than failure, but either is okay and it happens. I just keep trudging along and I figure the more we write, the more we learn.

    • #21 by poetjena on March 4, 2013 - 2:36 pm

      hey ravensquill,

      I’m as glad of the connection as you are, believe me!
      Shall I get the wine bottle, or you? :-)!

  18. #22 by theresegilardi on March 4, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    i just love the idea that if you’re not failing, you’re not doing anything of interest. thanks for the fascinating look at the wright brothers – once again, we only knew half of the story.

  19. #23 by babs50nfab on March 4, 2013 - 1:23 pm

    I prefer not to use the term failure. Instead I like to think my book/blog/artwork/ didn’t quite succeed as much as I’d hoped or expected. Into my 4th year of blogging I still think everyone else’s blogs are bigger and better, but it makes me work harder. After a friend wrote about hitting a milestone on his blog I decided to calculate my stats. I’m still amazed. To realize over 740,000 people have viewed my blog and over 3,000 comments have been made? Gobsmacked! Now I’m pumped and ready to write even more. A critique from you would really fuel the fire!
    Love your blog!
    b

  20. #24 by Thomas Linehan on March 4, 2013 - 1:28 pm

    Are we related? We think so much alike on every subject you write about. So before I put my blog together I’m making a proposal, from now it’s Kristen’s and Thom’s blog, catchy. lol
    Another great post

  21. #25 by lythya on March 4, 2013 - 1:38 pm

    I need to pull myself together and go write some shit so I can edit it later and learn what I did wrong. Sigh. Here I go!

  22. #26 by Ellen M. Gregg on March 4, 2013 - 1:46 pm

    Awesome post. It reminded me of this talk by Seth Godin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDtkBsWgzWE
    Failure is not necessarily the evil it’s cracked up to be, and thank goodness for that. :-)

    • #27 by poetjena on March 4, 2013 - 2:32 pm

      Cool comment Lythya!

  23. #28 by Pat Mizell on March 4, 2013 - 2:20 pm

    This is right on as far as I’m concerned. The old way is beyond our reach. The new way hasn’t been figured out no matter how many experts claim they know. What we have though is a huge lab, no external pressures, and lots of volunteer workers. We’ll figure it out eventually. But, that is a keyword. Eventually is too long a time for most of us. But I got to tell you folks; Economics has some solid inviolable truths. One is that demand will find a supply. Another is that a free supply subtracts from the demand. Quit giving away damn books. Make your product’s quality provide a distinction that creates demand. I don’t think that there are any short cuts, even in our “I want it now” society. Think of your marketing effort as a billboard. Thousands of people drive by it every day, most paying no attention other than a glance or two. But it’s always there and has a message. The fact that it is always there is the second message. One day that motorist going by is going to be in the right mood, read your billboard, and take action on your message. But if your message is weak and you try to compensate by moving the billboard around to different highways, nobody is ever going to pay attention.

    All stated in my notoriously humble opinion.

    • #29 by Pamela on March 4, 2013 - 8:40 pm

      WHY is the ‘old way beyond our reach’? What is wrong with reaching for the stars… that is how all those before us got there. :) We may fail, but if we do not TRY we have no chance to succeed.

  24. #30 by Denise Atchley on March 4, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    Of course, we are destined to fail. Life would be boring if it was only filled with success. We fall; get back up; fall again, etc., etc. Now, I’d rather fall, learn, improve, succeed and succeed before failing again; however, I’m not sure that’s realistic. Putting yourself out there is a scary thing, but not putting yourself out there at all is even more frightening.

  25. #31 by poetjena on March 4, 2013 - 2:43 pm

    So who exactly is the likely recipient of Blog Failure Award of 2013?

    Is it coveted? – any bids for last place?
    Did I elicit a fleeting smirk? don’t tell me, I f-a-i-l-e-d……. ! Just jesting :D

  26. #32 by poetjena on March 4, 2013 - 3:08 pm

    Reblogged this on Poet Jena's Blog and commented:
    Taking time out to speak a little ‘reblog':

    Kristin’s blog is very cool. Note my use of understatement for those regular readers.
    She and her admittedly adjective-defying blog looks like this:

    http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/

    Furthermore she is amazing author of: “We Are Not Alone – The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and to extend the metaphor (all credit to Kristin for that) concerning getting washed up on Amazon.com’s ample shores so to speak, it is, it goes without saying, a ‘must’ for all budding literarily stranded Robinson Crosoes.

    ==================

    – this is Ma-Li reporting from the borders of Kristin Lamb country primarily you understand in the interests of pure self-interest, but occasionally serving the wider common goal of spreading language to as many listening ears and open hearts as damn possible.

    thank you for your time :-D!!

  27. #33 by Gwen on March 4, 2013 - 4:50 pm

    It’s such encouraging advice, as always. You’re like the Oprah of bloggers – smart & savvy, but you know how to keep it real!

  28. #34 by Catherine Johnson on March 4, 2013 - 4:57 pm

    Great post! That Twit+ story is so funny!

  29. #35 by danielocceno on March 4, 2013 - 5:52 pm

    I agree with you 100%. I am a dropout of the University Of Missouri- Columbia School Of Engineering and the playground for rich kids’ private Liberal Arts college so I cannot really show off that I have a fancy degree somewhere. I did not have financial success in the sales game; after training I usually quit, many companies from insurance to multi-level. I wanted to write novels since I was in grade school so it is not like a career path with many detours, but something I wanted to do even in my old age. The monetary income would be nice. I write in my novels about commercial passenger submarines and building underwater cities for millions by 2025. You might know why they would rather go to Mars than save the world from Climate Change flooding of the mass destruction. I will have to re-read and re-read after preparing breakfast for my elderly parents.

    “Failure is additional knowledge for future success.” – Daniel Escurel Occeno

  30. #36 by MaLinda Johnson on March 4, 2013 - 6:43 pm

    Failing is the fastest way to grow. It shortens the learning curve considerably.

  31. #37 by Daniel Bryant on March 4, 2013 - 7:28 pm

    I find the new paradigm frightening — but a good frightening. It’s that thrill that comes with the roller coaster. You may succeed, you may not. However, the thrill’s part of the game.

  32. #38 by Julie on March 4, 2013 - 7:55 pm

    My genre? crappy writing. It stinks. I am learning. Expecting to fail, but expecting to learn a lot in the failing. I embrace failing.
    I am going to fail brilliantly.

  33. #39 by sharonhughson on March 4, 2013 - 8:00 pm

    I despise failure. I like to quote Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.” I’m thinking there’s no room for failure in there. When I do write and send my book out and it is rejected, did I do or do not?
    Is anyone else confused by what I just wrote:)
    Failure infuriates me. When I was younger, it discouraged me. My gray hair made me realize that I didn’t like other people telling me I wasn’t good enough. So I rewrote it or chucked it and started something new. My husband wants me to self-publish, but to me that feels like failure.
    What do you all think?

    • #40 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 4, 2013 - 8:08 pm

      Failure is relative. We have to embrace it as a friend. I really don’t take it personally and yet it used to TERRIFY me. Now? Whoops, well THAT didn’t work, LOL. Try again. But failure arms us with vital information about HOW to correct.

      • #41 by sharonhughson on March 4, 2013 - 8:19 pm

        Yes, I would like to think that I’ve learned from my failures. The hardest part is when people say “I don’t like it” but they can’t tell me why. If it’s the genre, okay. It it’s too dull or the plot doesn’t make sense, then those are things I need to know.

        I think it would be easier to accept failure if I did walk away with specific information about what is wrong and how to fix it. Rejections in the past were just form letters. Not very inFORMative.

        Thanks for your response.

        • #42 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 4, 2013 - 8:28 pm

          TOTALLY get what you mean. Most people aren’t great at giving specific critique. Beta readers can be good for that. Try WANATribe.

  34. #43 by Pamela on March 4, 2013 - 8:36 pm

    A very thought provoking argument. Thanks.
    One of the biggest problems, at least from my perspective, is that the book I labor over and then thrust into the indie/self pub/e pub world to ‘fly or fail’ with no access to proper national bookstore placement or marketing assistance through traditional publication is then doomed to never find its traditional audience since (aside from the rare ‘exceptions’) publishers don’t want our ‘second-hand’ novels.
    It might be less painful if I wrote short stories, or even just ‘short-er’ novels….but I write full length epic fantasy. There is no turning out one after another for the educational experience of failing.

  35. #44 by Kylie on March 4, 2013 - 10:37 pm

    Thank you so much! Recently I have been thinking so much about failure and how it can be a step forward. Your have deeply encouraged me in my period of waiting.

  36. #45 by Shweta on March 5, 2013 - 2:03 am

    I like it best where you write that the only reason for *complete* failure is giving up. It’s a great thing to be reminded that these little failures – the rejections experienced here and there, or by the moutainload as it were for some, are never the ‘be all, end all.’ There’s still a hope as long as one remains persistent and open to bettering their craft. It goes for anything in life and I would say especially so where creative energy is concerned. Thanks for the post! Great reading.

  37. #46 by Kiru Taye on March 5, 2013 - 4:38 am

    Another great post that just hits me ‘between the eyes’ right when I need it. Thank you, Kristen. :)

  38. #47 by Deborah Botham (@DeborahBotham) on March 5, 2013 - 9:04 am

    I have a little sticker above my computer that says “Fail Til You Succeed”, but I need to hear it again and again! Thank you, Kristen.

  39. #48 by dgstovall1 on March 5, 2013 - 9:09 am

    I did not know that about the Wright brothers. Good analogy to the benefit of writing failures.

  40. #49 by abigler42 on March 5, 2013 - 9:48 am

    This is great. It’s a relief to read about this topic from someone who knows what they are doing! I am writing my first novel and just started up my blog. I have been putting myself under an enormous amount of pressure to be perfect and that is exhausting! The way you have spelled all this out reminds me to breath today. :)

  41. #50 by Coleen Burright on March 5, 2013 - 12:43 pm

    Thanks for the reminder that failure is not synonymous with “loser” and that when we do fail, we’re in excellent company.

  42. #51 by Jessica on March 5, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    I’ve come to terms with failing; I’m expecting it. If anyone expects not to fail, they’re not being realistic. Sure, sometimes I wish it were as easy as what people think it is or want it to be, but I’d rather have something to show for my hard work, and be proud of what I have to show. Being handed success on a shiny, silver platter wouldn’t feel genuine, or as satisfying as someone acknowledging my hard work with a publishing contract.

    Trying, failing, persevering, succeeding, in that order.

    • #52 by pamela on March 5, 2013 - 2:35 pm

      well said… I agree whole heartedly.

    • #53 by danielocceno on March 5, 2013 - 4:49 pm

      I have no control of other people’s money, publishing houses, which I would like to earn. What I have control off is my abilities to write. Like this blog, I read it every day while checking E-mail to improve my writing, even if the words of wisdom by Kristen are only motivational. I have the Writers’ Digest Magazine and Grammar Book for the fears of perfect English. After I complete a short story or an article or a screenplay and of course a novel ready to send somewhere, I consider myself successful. I did not fail in writing and completing the piece. Think in terms of what you are capable of doing. Reward yourself afterwards of sending it to a publisher. A bottle or a can of beer for me, but I usually do not have the extra cash. It is why I send it to a publisher or I would self-pub.

  43. #54 by Julie Glover on March 5, 2013 - 2:59 pm

    Like most, I think indie publishing has its amazing advantages, as well as some drawbacks. Mainly, we writers have to assemble our own team for quality cover work, editing, proofreading, etc. Although, I think that is true more and more even in traditional publishing, in which the resources for polishing and promoting books written by anyone other than a celebrity have dwindled substantially.

    I’d prefer not to crash at all, but I have learned the value of finding out what doesn’t work so that you can do what does work. Beautifully put, Kristen!

    (And I totally think this itty-bitty typo is Freudian: “Reign in the stand-up comedy.” You do reign in stand-up comedy, oh Social Media Jedi and Humor Queen.) :)

  44. #55 by donovanmneal on March 6, 2013 - 7:40 am

    Great blog! I’m glad I found you on the net!

  45. #56 by Joan on March 9, 2013 - 4:39 pm

    Kristen – thank you for the reminder that it’s okay to fail. I’ve been debating between traditional and self publishing. In today’s world, I see no reason not to self publish!

    • #57 by Pat Mizell on March 11, 2013 - 12:54 am

      I can’t either Joan; I’ve been beating myself up about this but can’t find a damn thing anybody other than the huge boys will do that I can’t do myself. And I’m lazy.

      • #58 by Daniel Escurel Occeno on March 11, 2013 - 3:41 am

        Do both; send your best stuff to your favorite publishing house and the works rejected, self-publish it.

      • #59 by pamela on March 11, 2013 - 8:50 am

        I still can think of a lot of things even smaller traditional houses can do that I can’t. Like getting my books into the bookstore chains (not just the local few I can drive to and possibly beg to carry a few books) Not that I don’t agree that self-publishing works well FOR SOME PEOPLE…but for people, like me, who prefer to spend their time writing than mired in frantic marketing for a book that will never sell the thousands of copies required to be a success?
        I, personally, will have to continue trying…and failing…and trying again until my work is the quality necessary to make it in traditional publication.

  46. #60 by joannabransonauthor on March 11, 2013 - 2:49 pm

    Thank you, Kristin! I feel like I am failing PLENTY! But I was failing to recognize it as a good thing and the discouragement was creeping in. I love the phrase you used, “their positive relationship with failure” and am claiming it as my own mantra! Yep, I have a positive relationship with failure. Otherwise, how can I possibly learn the lessons inherent in it?

  47. #61 by maggiros on March 11, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    All excellent points! And believe me, I’ve had more than my share of rejection slips, until the day I got offers from two (small, independent, but legit) publishers in the same week! Sales still aren’t that great, but it’s early days in the cosmic scheme of things. I talk to a lot of people on Facebook every day, in a variety of forums. My blog is even getting more activity, and I’ve started getting Amazon reviews from total strangers! Not exactly Publisher’s Weekly, but all in good time. :-)

  48. #62 by Tannis Laidlaw on March 15, 2013 - 4:53 pm

    The Wright brothers? Good bikes, yes. The beginning of the aircraft industry, yes. The first powered flight? Definitely no. Check out the newspaper reports a couple of years before 1903 describing Gustave Whitehead’s flights (plural)…
    It’s all about re-writing history when you are the winner – and the Wright brothers were businessmen and succeeded while Whitehead wasn’t and didn’t.
    What has this to do with welcoming the odd failure once in a while and learning from it? Dunno…there has to be a lesson there somewhere.

  49. #63 by Justin Sargeant on March 22, 2013 - 3:25 pm

    This really reminds me to take a step back and relax. I get in a such a rush to get enough followers so I can start really promoting my book, so I can distribute it as an ebook . . .yadda yadda yadda. But this was a nice splash of water in face to wake me up and help me cool down at the same time. Thank you!

  50. #64 by cometotimmy on March 28, 2013 - 5:42 am

    Failure. Yep. That’s me. Total, consistent, failure. Failed today and shall rise bright and chirpy tomorrow, and fail anew. Someday. Someday.

  1. Realistic Expectations: I Will Fail

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