Positive Strokes

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I have said more than once that there are no guarantees in life. And that goes for writing as well. I told a fellow magazine editor one time while we were watching our first issue roll off the press: “Enjoy it. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

And it doesn’t. Nothing beats that moment when you first hold your new paperback book in your hands and you realize that all of your hard work has resulted in something tangible. But as any published author knows, it doesn’t stop there–good and bad. You get good things, such as your first check, those accolades, which are too far apart, and those times when you are called to speak somewhere as an “authority.” (I’m still trying to figure out what that word means.) But there are too, too many struggles as well, as you realize what an uphill climb it is to get people to appreciate your book like you do, or at least pay attention to it. A fellow editor and very good writer friend of mine, Jerry D. Thomas, told me that authors today are expected to put more than 50 percent of their work into promotion and marketing. I only half-believed him at the time, but since realized how true those words were. That statistic goes for traditional published authors as well as us indie authors.

I am committed to the writing life, even if I never get on the New York Times Bestseller list or win a Pulitzer Prize. So I have learned to take whatever enjoyment I can out of my authorship. Some may seem pretty vain, especially for a Christian author. It doesn’t mean I don’t have my priorities straight. It just means that a few positive strokes sure helps when times–and reviews–get tough. Here are a few of the thing I do:

1. Last week I finished decorating a wall in my office with framed covers from my books. I have 10 covers up there (I wrote 15, but four were ghostwritten and someone else’s name on the cover, and the other was an academic book with a pretty boring cover.). It makes me feel good, and it really helps to establish my credentials when I am talking to would-be student writers.

Champion4 ebook2. I read my books to myself–and to my wife. I make it a habit when I have finished a rough draft to read it aloud to my wife. That lets here share in my project, provide commentary, and helps me catch any mistakes that I might have missed.

3. I read reviews on Amazon. I don’t linger over the bad reviews, and I get some. They’re good for understanding where I need to grow. But when I am down, it’s good to go over the good ones. Last night I got a great review for my new book The Champion on Amazon. Its heading was: Could. Not. Put. It. Down. I was so excited after reading that I couldn’t go to sleep.

Don’t do anything that will make you think you’re a better writer than you are. After all, we are all students when it comes to writing. But don’t let the Trolls get you down either. Find some ammunition for keeping your courage up.

And don’t be afraid to use it.

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