The last decade put us all under the microscope in terms of personal growth, encouraging us to ask the question: are we developing as people in positive ways? Cue the mindfulness and positive thinking wave that dominated the 2010s and empowered us, allowing us to believe that we are capable of great things if we are mindful of our trajectory.
Personal growth has the capacity to give us the confidence and experience to become the professionals we always wanted to become. The two are intrinsically linked, but growing as a professional – in this case a professional author – requires a different mindset, and therefore a different category of mindfulness.
If we wish to develop into authors known for their great books and professional reputation, there are a few important skills we must learn to hone.
Listening To and Heeding Constructive Advice
It’s not enough to have constructive advice told to us, we also have to act on it if this advice in order to grow. Constructive advice, especially on social media, isn’t always easy to pick out, but a clear cut example is an author I came across recently.
This author posted a request asking their fellow authors to read and review their book, as it had several poor reviews on Amazon which brought the average down to two stars. Every poor review specified that the book needed thorough editing and had far too many errors. Several authors did as requested and read the sample, only to feed back to the author the same thing: their book needed an editor.
In this case, the constructive advice stared this author in the face. When many people are saying something important about our books without personal attacks, we owe it ourselves and our readers to investigate. Even if we discover that our books need some serious work, if we choose to take on the task of correcting the problems, we will have grown considerably as professionals.
Self-Critiquing Without Bias
Bias can mean one of two things: thinking we’re incredible and/or believing our skills are rubbish, and let either or both affect how we view our work. Keeping a balance between both can give us a realistic view of our books and allow us to think clearly about improvements and potential changes we need to make.
On the one hand, if we allow ourselves to believe that our work is flawless and any criticisms it receives is a product of jealousy or hate, we will not seek to improve our books and fail to grow. On the other, if we take every criticism to heart and believe that everything needs changing in our books, we also forfeit professional growth. Because we failed to identify which criticisms are relevant to our work.
By learning in equal measure not to think too much of ourselves or to think too harshly, we create the perfect environment in which to grow as professionals.
Learning To Banish Assumptions
Discussions about book sales on social media often branch off into discussions about why books aren’t selling. Inevitably, there are always authors who aren’t sure why their book sales have tanked after release day or only happen once in a blue moon. Without the knowledge to understand why their books aren’t selling, assumptions start flying.
Real examples of attempts to justify a lack of book sales include: “I have a lot of haters”, “people just don’t read books anymore”, and perhaps the most cringeworthy, “the world clearly isn’t ready for my genius yet”. Unfortunately, these aren’t exaggerations.
All of these excuses pass blame onto the readers for a lack of sales, which allows these authors to deflect accountability for their own product. If our books aren’t selling, the reasons have nothing to do with the readers and everything to do with our actions as authors. Whether the problem is an issue with quality, either of content, cover or blurb, or an inadequate marketing plan, the fault almost always lies with us, the authors.
Accepting that there is more we can do to make a success of our books isn’t comfortable, and inevitably means we have a lot more work to do to improve our sales and careers. But that’s the effort required to make a success of anything, and shying away from it is admitting defeat, even if it’s only temporarily. Embrace the discomfort, let’s do our research and truly make the best of what we create, and become better people in the process.
Thanks for reading! Did you know I also write urban fantasy books? Check them out here!