So you published a book and it did pretty well. Congratulations! That is amazing. Look at what you did! You have already surpassed thousands of others who said they were going to publish but never did anything with that dusty manuscript. Now that you have settled in to being a published author, have a marketing plan and can breathe again, what next?
Thoughts of doom. We all go through it. Why is this author so much more popular than I am? Surely it cannot be looks. Have you seen this guy/girl? Hairless chihuahuas are cuter. Is their book better than mine? Is my book too closely related to what they published? Should I take it down and edit it again? NO. Then it will be more like so and so’s book.
There comes a point when most of us authors sit and obsess. We obsess over facts, figures, sales, prices, copies, covers,blurbs, promotions, reviews, fans, etc.
You know what else we obsess over? Who our competition is. If you are a horror author, you have heard of Stephen King.
Write vampire novels? You’ve heard of Twilight.
Legal thrillers? Who is this John Grisham guy?
So here is my point. Yes, I have one. What happens when you realise that the other major players in your genre/category are not your biggest enemy? What happens when you figure out that after publishing so many novels, you are the one you are fighting with?
This happens. Usually not with the first few novels, but eventually you will publish that one that leads you to success. Whatever the definition of success means to you, it will most likely happen eventually. It could be that this is the novel you have been waiting to write your entire life. It finally came out just as you wanted it to. It might be that this is the one that achieved the sales figures you were hoping for, or even far surpassed them. So, now you have had the success you were searching for. Again, congratulations on your determination and ingenuity.
Next logical question. Was this a fluke? Will it happen again? How much of it was luck?
If you always put immediate pressure on yourself to surpass the last thing you accomplished, will you even be able to write anything else? There have been some fabulous one hit wonders in the writing world. There are also a lot of authors who have some really infamous books and some that people would rather forget…again with the Stephen King.
So what do you do when you get to this point? You are now afraid that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to beat out your own talent. Here are my thoughts on the matter:
Keep writing. Sounds simple, no?
You will never know what you are capable of until you try. You have already surprised yourself at this point, now do it again. Seriously, (John that was for you,) who cares if someone (even if the someone is you) doesn’t think this new work is quite as good as the last? What works for other authors who put out two or three (or more Nora) books per year and have found the key to success? They keep writing more books. They are progressive. Some of them are not as well received as others, but they keep writing.
Getting wound up in the idea that you have already written the best thing you ever will write serves no purpose other than to give you an early death from stress or shoving pencils up your nose while watching the cursor blink. Challenge yourself to a duel. Think of it as a contest rather than an impossible mountain you can’t climb. Kick your own arse.