It’s the paper walls.
That’s from a song I happen to love by Marc Cohn:
The portion of the song where he says that doesn’t actually occur until the end. (At 3:39 on that video.) If you listen to it you may be asking yourself what on earth that song has to do with anything except people making really strange choices about who they hook up with and when, but stay with me for a moment.
Because, as always, I take something completely different away from that song than probably anyone else would. See, I hear that line “It ain’t the road that kills you…” and I think that the song is about how it isn’t being alone that’s the problem, it’s knowing that others aren’t and being able to hear (in this case) what you’re missing and how knowing what you’re missing is the real issue.
Now to bring this back to writing.
I ran a promo on Rider’s Revenge this weekend. It ends today. And, good news, I sold at least 374 copies of book 1 and 24 copies each of books 2 and 3. The promo isn’t even over yet and it’s already been profitable and sell-through to books 2 and 3 over the long-term will make it more so.
Except I kind of felt like crap about it the last two days. Because part of the promo was an international-only Bookbub. And according to their site, the average number of sales from this particular list should be 550, but I’m only at about 300 off of the Bookbub.
It paid for itself. And I think I’m still missing Google sales and maybe even some iTunes sales. But I’m not going to hit 550. Which bummed me out.
I had a successful promo. I made a profit. I hopefully have a couple hundred new fans. And yet…knowing that others have done better running the same promo spoiled it for me.
It’s like we’re all trying to hike a mountain here. And I know that as long as I keep going and putting one foot in front of the other that I’ll get there eventually. But it’s harder when someone breezes by like there’s nothing to it or the person you started the trail with leaves you behind because you’re going so much slower.
(Real life experience: I hiked Mt. Quandary, a 14er, years ago with a couple co-workers. They were both in excellent shape and left me behind after the first hour or so. But I made it to the top. Eventually. Just in time for them to be ready to turn around and head back down…)
It’s easy to always be looking to others and feel constantly dissatisfied. Because there will always be someone selling more, getting more reviews or better reviews, or signing high-profile deals. But you can’t do that. It’ll kill you.
Step back and remind yourself what you have done. See how far you’ve come. Embrace the positives.
(I say as I continue to sit here and sulk.)
Remember, it isn’t the journey that will kill you, it’s comparing yourself to others and letting their successes (or how you feel about them) defeat you.