Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Coping with Disappointment

What do you do when something you have counted on fails to materialize? What do you do when your original incentive for doing something has fallen flat and you can't get up the enthusiasm to do it anymore? How do you cope when your ego has taken a kick in the teeth?

These aren't idle questions; I'd really like to hear from my readers. My sales statement from the publisher arrived yesterday, and I am sorry to report that Desperate Measures has only sold just under 2,000 copies, which is pitiful. With the returns from the bookstores, the publisher actually lost money on it. Which means they took that out of the money from my other sales and so I didn't earn a penny with my writing in the last six months. Now I know writers tend to be overly dramatic people, and we weep and wail and gnash our teeth a lot on a regular basis, but this was a particularly nasty blow. I have always earned at least something. I had gone so far as to formulate fond plans for the money (stupid me). Secretly I think Desperate Measures was my best work, and it was certainly the most fun to write. My confidence is shaken. Maybe I'm not as good at it as I smirkingly thought. That's humiliating.

I write because it's a part of me, and I can sooner think of stopping breathing than stopping writing. Writing will always be in my life, but maybe the time has come to alter its role. I started promoting my work to publishers because it was fun. But the initial zing of seeing my name in print has gone long ago, and now I find myself caught in the race of deadlines and promotions, and the fun has lessened. I am writing what they want me to write, not what I feel I want to write. I have come to expect money for it, however pathetic the amount. And I feel I need to justify, somehow, the amount of time I'm spending at it to the neglect of other important things (like, um, housecleaning and sleeping and interacting with humans). I look back at the hectic past months, the writing sessions crammed in at 3:30 in the morning, the angst, and wonder if I've lost focus. So now I have to sit back and ask myself some questions about my motivations, my expectations, and my ability to sustain this. My desire to sustain this.

I'd welcome your thoughts. Which I'll read just as soon as I get back from Baskin Robbins. It's really the only answer at times like this. I might have to make it a double scoop.


  1. We so enjoyed Desperate Measures! It was so fun to read. Here's a thought: Maybe just write for your own enjoyment, submit it; if the publisher doesn't like it, oh well. You had a good time writing, you fulfilled your obligation to submit manuscripts and maybe that's a good goal. If once in awhile, they accept one and publish it, great. This approach will not make you famous or wealthy but maybe more contented. You might even come up with better books if you're not trying to meet their mandates for subject matter. This may not be a good answer for you. Part of the joy may be having others enjoy your work. These are just thoughts to throw into the mix. We love you!

  2. I'm going to put this bluntly because I feel very strongly about this ... Unless you are actually starving to death, and dancing to a publisher's tune is the only way out, write only for yourself. Write because - as you said - it is the one driving passion of your life. Trust me, you will always find someone who will fall as much in love with your work as a reader, as you did as a writer. (Yes, we all need some validation sometimes!) ps: you think 2000 copies is pitiful? Wow, I sure have a long way to go :(

  3. Wow. That's a tough question. Here's a random thought: have you tried writing a series, or more than one book about the same characters? That seems to be how some authors get large readerships these days....