I’m thrilled to be back at Romance University! It’s been…years. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a multi-published, award-winning author of romance fiction. Sounds impressive, right? When I see another author say she’s multi-published and award-winning, I’m impressed.
But as the titles pertain to me? Meh. (I know, ungrateful much? Let me explain…)
When I first started writing for publication, back in 2008, I had five goals:
- Sell to a major publisher
- Earn a living wage as a published author
- See my books on a store shelf
- Make the USA Today Bestsellers list
- Win a RITA
Pretty lofty, am I right? Be honest, you have a few of these on your list, too. Goals are good. It’s important to have something to work toward, to strive for. But – and this is where I hope you will learn from my mistakes – what I’ve learned over the years is…don’t let your pursuit of those goals overshadow all of your smaller accomplishments along the way. Don’t let your failure to achieve a particular goal – yet – make you question the possibility of ever achieving it. Don’t focus on the negatives of this business when there are so many positives!
Did I sell to a major publisher? YES! Harlequin and then Random House Loveswept. Check and check!
Did I earn a living wage as a published author? Define living wage…ha ha. But I did earn a lot more than some authors. That should have made me happy. Instead, I focused on the authors and agents who posted six-figure deals and I wanted that!
Did I see my books on a store shelf? Not in the U.S. where I live and that frustrated me to no end. But lots of lovely readers sent me pictures of my HQN books on shelves where they lived in the UK, Australia and France. That should have made me happy. Instead, I lamented the unfairness of medical romance not being sold in stores in the U.S.
Did I make the USA Today Bestsellers list? No. But my HQN books made it into the top ten for Medical Romance on numerous occasions and my Loveswept books made it onto Amazon bestseller lists. That should have made me happy. Instead, I questioned my abilities as fellow author friends sky-rocketed in popularity.
Did I win a RITA? No. But my books have reached the finals in many regional RWA contests and I’ve won a National Readers Choice Award and a Golden Leaf Award. That should have made me happy. Instead, obsessed with the RITA, I requested my scores from RWA (Don’t ever do this!!!) and became devastated at the sight of actual 5s out of 10. Oh, there were 9s too, but how could there be such disparity?! (BTW, this was the same book that won the National Readers’ Choice Award and the Golden Leaf Award.) In my anger, I canceled my RWA membership, pretty much guaranteeing I would never win a RITA…
In my disappointment and frustration at not achieving the goals I’d set for myself, I became negative and cynical. I became a person I didn’t like, a person very different from the real life me. I began to focus on everything I’d thought was wrong with my career rather than everything that was going right. I gave my HQN editor (who was the absolute BEST!) a hard time over the littlest things. I could get 80 five-star reviews, but it would be the negative comments from a one-star review that would stick with me.
I spent more time online checking sales numbers, searching for reviews, and comparing myself to other authors (Imagine a scary looking skull and crossbones emogi here. These are all very dangerous, career jeopardizing activities. You have been warned.) than I did writing.
It. Was. Exhausting.
In 2016, I became so disillusioned with publishing that I walked away from it.
It’s taken two years of re-evaluating my priorities and goals, but I’ve regrouped. Now I’m back with a shiny new positive outlook and a daily mantra I’m happy to share:
Comparison is the thief of joy. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
I have this written on the wall of my office…along with other motivational quotes to keep me focused on MY work and MY journey and finding happiness and satisfaction in both.
You will not find a more welcoming, supportive, and helpful community than authors who write in the romance genre. This is a huge positive. Writing everyday is a positive, no matter your word count at the end of that day. Finishing a manuscript is a positive, whether it sells or not. Even rejections can be seen as a positive. (You have to dig deep, I admit.) But if you’re getting rejections that means you’re putting your work out there. You can’t sell it if you don’t put it out there. Taking that risk is a big positive step in achieving your goal of publication!
Now, please take a few minutes to write down some happy positives from your writing journey so far, or just from today, and share them in the comments. Two lucky commenters will be chosen (via random.org) to receive a digital copy of my re-release Consequences and Redemption.
To find out more about me and my books visit http://WendySMarcus.com
Bio: Wendy S. Marcus is an award-winning author of contemporary romance who lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York where she spends way too much time indoors on her computer. Writing. Really! Okay, more like…where she spends way too much time on Twitter and Facebook! To learn more about Wendy and the books she’s managed to write, in spite of her social media addiction, visit http://WendySMarcus.com.