One of the best things about writing a blog is the opportunity to reflect on and share ideas about a person’s passions. For me, creating a life filled with happiness, meaningful moments, simple pleasures, and deep enthusiasm all show up in everything I take the time to write about here on SMART Living 365. One of my latest infatuations is the experiment to publish a novel as an ebook to Amazon Kindle. And just like every experience in my life, if I take the time to observe, learn and grow from the incident, I am usually rewarded by it regardless of the outcome. So what have I learned after just one month as an ebook author, and how might that be of benefit to you?
I should begin by explaining that this is not a “how to” on self-publishing or marketing your ebook. In fact, there are hundreds of articles on the Internet that will explain how to do it much better than I could. And it also doesn’t matter if you are a writer. What I want to share are some of the psychological insights and lessons I’ve leaned and how many of them apply to just about any new endeavor any one of us wants to take in life.
a) It’s easier than you think and not as simple as it sounds. Publishing an ebook is a lot like life. The paradox is that it is exciting and filled with possibility—and at the same time it is full of ABGO’s (another bloody growth opportunity). I first heard the term ABGO years ago by a writer and speaker named Dennis Merrit Jones. He used it to describe an experience in your life that is challenging and sometimes hard, but full of potential to experience life and learn more about yourself. Publishing is exactly like that—and as long as I remember that throughout the occasion, there will always be a payoff. Likewise, no matter your experience, if you can see it as an ABGO, a benefit exists somewhere in the middle of it.
b) It takes as long as it takes. I won’t pretend that publishing my ebook was a quick process. As I’ve mentioned before, I wrote this novel about seven or eight years ago and when I couldn’t find a traditional publisher, I just forgot about it. Then once I saw how ebooks were becoming more and more popular—and considered that I had very little to lose by just doing it myself—it still took over six months of this and that to get to the moment when I pushed the button on Amazon to “go live.” It takes as long as it takes. I believe that as long as we are moving ahead, no matter how slowly, we are making progress. Plus, it’s wise to remember that there is no destination to ultimately arrive at anyway. The real payoff of the journey is the growth, happiness and meaning we experience as we travel.
c) Numbers have never been, and never will be, an indicator of your true success. As I mentioned in my last blog post about comparison, numbers are something that are very easy to use as a measurement and that’s why they are so attractive. When you do things on the internet (write a book, start a blog, create a Facebook Page) numbers are one way to monitor that can be fun and other times frustrating. The trick is to remember that numbers really only mean what we think they mean. They don’t necessarily mean you are successful, happy or that you are a valuable worthwhile person. If we don’t think we are successful, happy or worthwhile inside, then it won’t matter how big a number we grow—we will keep wanting more, more and even more. Just like an anorexic who can look in the mirror and never see themselves as slender, a person obsessed with numbers will always think higher numbers will do the trick. Wrong!
d) The experience won’t change your life. Have you heard the saying, “Wherever you go, there you are?” It doesn’t matter what your big goal in life might be—doing it doesn’t really change your life the way you expect—and chances are good you’ll be the same when you get there.
My ebook novel is actually my third published book. Traditional book publishers published my first two books. When I received my first contract and advance for that first book (okay it wasn’t a big advance but they did give me money before I had written the book) I was ecstatic. Even though I had been paid for my writing many times before that—this was for a book! Unfortunately, although I was very excited and optimistic—that book was NOT a huge success. Instead, what it turned out to be was a step on the journey to becoming a better writer. Even more important, it was a step on the journey to becoming a better “me.” The second book was the same, and this latest one is similar. While some writers might appear to be instantaneously successful and glamorous, the vast majority of us do what we do because it is who we are—not what we expect to get.
e) Writing won’t make you rich. Okay, so there are a few writers out there that have become wealthy by writing. J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown and Stephanie Myer all come to mind. But what is probably much more true, is how many others of us who fall in a much different category. So many new writers—either authors or other bloggers—seem to be approaching their writing as a job and way to make money. I can’t help but believe if you approach writing as just another way to make a living—you’re making it similar to any other job you might take on “for the money.” Let’s face it, being a writer might be deeply satisfying for some of us—but it is not an easy way to make money. If you’re just doing it to get rich, that will show in everything you write AND it you will likely be very disappointed in the outcome. My advice is always to find something you would do for free because you love it—and then do it and the money will follow. Then, even if the money isn’t lavish, at least you will have the deep reward of doing what you love.
f) Your biggest critic is probably yourself. This is another one of the “tips” that likely applies to every person on the planet. Most of us are much harder on ourselves than anyone else would be. The natural consequence of that is why most people (me included) need to develop a thick skin when it comes to feedback from others. What I really dread when it comes to criticism from others, are the issues that I doubt the most in myself. Instead, when I am accepting of my talents as well as my faults—what other people say about me is “none of my business.”
g) Your support will probably come from where you least expect it. My mother told me many years ago that the biggest lesson she learned after opening a business was that you couldn’t expect family and friends to make you a success. I have to agree. While it seems like those people who are close to you would be your biggest fans and supporters, the truth is that even though they care, it will likely be people that you never expected to come out of the woodwork to help you achieve your goals. In the long run this is an excellent tip to hold in mind because it sometimes feels a bit discouraging when many of those close to you seem ambivalent about your success. Instead, when we focus our attention on people who understand and appreciate what we are attempting to build, and keep the ultimate end-in-mind, then we attract those who are attracted to us into our world.
h) There’s more to it than appears on the surface. Okay, this one probably seems more than obvious. But everything about writing a book and publishing it, or writing a blog and keeping it going or, you doing whatever it is you say you want to do, all takes more than meets the eye. Everything we do is much more involved than it appears. This is another reason not to do it if you don’t have a passion for it, While I thought it took a great deal of effort to write the book, the editing of it was equally challenging. After that I had to deal with proofing, a nice cover, and then formatting. Once it was published you must do an incredible amount of research and work to help publicize your book. Just know that with any new endeavor there is likely more to it than you imagine. That is all the more reason to make sure it is a passion before you even begin.
i) Choose the chance of failure over the certainty of regret. It doesn’t really matter what you are attempting to create—just do it. Sure you might not achieve the lofty ambitions that you strive for. But if you don’t even try you will almost certainly regret it in the end. While failure can be painful—you can always learn and grow from the experience. On the other hand, regret leaves you with nothing to hold on to except the betrayal of your dreams. Always let your fear of regret be much bigger than your fear of failure.
I’m sure that there are many, many more ABGO’s on this journey of self-publishing my first ebook. But these are enough to process for now. Remember, it doesn’t matter what new creation you are undertaking in your life, we can all learn and grow from any new experience—or we can struggle and resist every little bump on the road. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking notes so my next adventure will be even more amazing than the last.
Finding Grace–A Transformational Journey by Kathy Gottberg is available on Amazon. You do not need a kindle to purchase and read the book–but you do need an ipad, a computer or a smart phone. Just click on the book cover and it will take you to Amazon. In the right hand column you will see options for “readers” who do not own a Kindle. If you do read the book, a honest review of your thoughts would be greatly appreciated when you are done. What’s it about? Here is a brief description:
Ever wonder what it takes to be uniquely and passionately yourself in a world determined to make you like everyone else?
Grace Martin intends to find out as she stumbles from one humbling life lesson to another. With a peculiar, but supportive guide and mentor named Mrs. Pettermint, Grace slowly breaks free of traditional family and religion and courageously explores life, relationships, and various spiritual traditions seeking solutions that make her soul shine. Finally, just when the peak of her journey seems within reach, her beloved mentor dies leaving her nearly $50 Million Dollars—but the only way to claim that inheritance and find the peace Grace craves is to face the fierce criticism of her past, the betrayals of the present, and the thousands she serves as a New Thought Minster.
Finding Grace reveals that in today’s world it is possible to be spiritual without being religious in the usual sense. And for courageous women like Grace, learning to surrender fears, doubts and attachments is the best way to walk the transformational journey into her own soul.
Your outlook on writing is inspiring. Love it! There are so many articles and resources on the internet but none of which really, truly help writers who want to self publish. Thank you for the awesome information!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Tanya! Welcome to SMART Living and thank you for your comment. As you say there are a lot of articles and resources on the internet to help us do this but some are better than others. I’m glad you thought this was helpful. ~Kathy
Brianda Domecq says
Hi Kathy; discovered you through a facebook post picked up by a Byron Katie page I subscribe to. Glad I did. I too am a writer (9 books published in Mexico and three translated into English) but have not gotten into the self-publishing yet though I did think about it for a while. In the meantime, I am really enjoying blogging and look forward to reading more of our articles. b
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Brianda! Welcome to SMART Living and thanks for making a comment. I just checked out your books on Amazon…they sound very compelling! You ought to talk to your publisher about putting them on kindle (or all ebooks) so that they can be read by even more people. I really think it is a wonderful way for us writers to expose our writings to more people. If I can help answer any specific questions, just let me know. I’m going to check out your blog too…isn’t the internet a wonderful way to connect with others? ~kg
Love reading your inspirational stories, my friends often tell me I should write a book maybe I should listen to them :-)) x
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Sharon. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear some of my stories provided some inspiration–and yes, by all means start writing. I consider writing both a meditation AND therapy–regardless of whether you publish or not!
Thank you for the info. I am about to publish my first ebook and I have a lot of concerns; but your post helped me to nail most of them. Now that I lowered my expectations, it is more likely that I publish it.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Gustavo…thanks for stopping by and making a comment. I’m glad my ideas gave you some things to think about AND helped encourage you to take the plunge. As long as we remember that everything we do will help us along the way–how can anything we do not be successful? Be sure and let us know when you decide to publish and we’ll check it out…