Episode 003 – Managing Expectations for a Sustainable Author Career

This week on the podcast, I tackle one of those taboo topics: Expectations.

No one wants to be the person to say “think smaller”, but a lot of the problems in our industry stem from the gap between our expectations and reality.

I’m still always going to encourage writers to dream big and have aspirations, but it’s important to balance those ideas with healthy pragmatism. When we keep in mind that the publishing industry is fickle and unpredictable, we can better manage our expectations and find it easier to be persistent!

Join our Discord server to chat with other authors about goals and aspirations. Access comes as part of the membership offered on Patreon.

Infographic on managing expectations.
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Hello Navigators. Welcome to Writer Roadmap, the podcast for writers seeking inspiration, guidance, and support on their creative journey. I’m your host, Holly Lyne, and in today’s episode, we’ll be discussing the importance of our expectations when it comes to building a sustainable career in publishing.

Writing is a journey filled with countless emotions, uncertainties, and victories. It’s an art form that allows us to express ourselves, share our thoughts, and captivate readers. However, managing expectations as a writer can be a challenging task. The path to success is often paved with rejections, self-doubt, and setbacks. It’s important to manage your expectations as a writer, embracing the journey, and finding balance amidst the ups and downs.

Writing is a creative endeavour that often intertwines with our hopes and dreams. We imagine our stories captivating readers, receiving praise, and perhaps even making a significant impact. However, managing our expectations as writers becomes crucial when the gap between our aspirations and reality starts to cause problems.

We may envision our work being celebrated from the moment we put pen to paper, but the reality often differs. It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticized notion of instant success and recognition. However, when reality falls short of our expectations, it can lead to frustration, self-doubt, and even a loss of motivation.

The publishing industry is known for its unpredictability. The story goes that Random House got its name from the seeming randomness of which books would hit and which would miss. It’s impossible to predict what readers will and won’t like. A story that resonates with one person might not have the same effect on another. Publishers and literary agents receive countless manuscripts and have their own subjective preferences, so landing a traditional deal is more about luck than the quality of your writing. We may think that publishers know how to sell books, but they are often guessing about what the market will receive well. Indie authors don’t get off any easier. The market trends are constantly shifting, making it challenging to anticipate what will be well-received at any given moment. This unpredictability adds another layer of complexity to managing our expectations.

When our expectations don’t align with reality, it can lead to disappointment and discouragement. We may receive rejection letters from agents or publishers, or our book sales may not meet our anticipated figures. These setbacks can be disheartening, but it’s crucial to remember that they are a part of the writing journey for most authors. Rejection and setbacks are not indicative of our worth as writers, but rather opportunities for growth and improvement.

Unrealistic expectations can also breed unhealthy comparisons. We might find ourselves comparing our progress, achievements, or success to other writers. Social media often amplifies this tendency, as we see fellow writers celebrating their accomplishments. However, it’s important to remember that every writer’s journey is unique. Success is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Comparing ourselves to others only undermines our confidence and hinders our progress. Instead, focus on your own growth and celebrate each step forward, no matter how small.

To manage our expectations effectively, it’s essential to strike a balance between ambition and realism. Dream big, but also ground your aspirations in a pragmatic understanding of the writing process. Set goals that are challenging yet attainable, and break them down into manageable steps. This approach allows for incremental progress and prevents overwhelm. Celebrate each milestone along the way, as they serve as reminders of your growth as a writer.

Embracing the writing process itself is fundamental to managing expectations. Writing is not just about the final product; it’s about the journey of creation. Embrace the moments of inspiration and the periods of writer’s block. Understand that writing involves highs and lows, and both are essential for growth. Allow yourself to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them. Sometimes the detours you take can lead to unexpected and extraordinary outcomes.

While it’s essential to manage your expectations, it’s equally crucial to nurture your passion for writing. Writing is an art form that allows for self-expression, storytelling, and exploration. Don’t let the pressures of success overshadow your love for the craft. Take time to reflect on why you write and what brings you joy in the process. Reconnect with your creativity and remember that writing is not solely about external validation but also about the personal fulfilment it brings.

Finding a supportive community of fellow writers can make a world of difference in managing expectations. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who understand the challenges and triumphs of the writing journey can provide valuable encouragement and feedback. Engage in writing groups, attend workshops, or participate in online communities. Sharing experiences, exchanging ideas, and receiving support from fellow writers can help you navigate the inevitable ups and downs.

Lastly, it’s important to acknowledge that managing expectations is an ongoing process. As you grow as a writer, your aspirations and goals may evolve. What you once considered success might change over time. Embrace the fluidity of your expectations and allow yourself the freedom to redefine what success means to you. Remember that writing is a lifelong pursuit, and your journey as a writer is unique and personal.

In conclusion, managing our expectations as writers is essential for maintaining our motivation and well-being. Recognize the gap between our aspirations and reality, and adjust our expectations accordingly. Embrace the unpredictable nature of the publishing industry, understanding that success is subjective and market trends are ever-changing. Focus on personal growth, set realistic goals, and celebrate each achievement along the way. By navigating the gap between our expectations and reality with resilience and a balanced perspective, we can find fulfilment in our writing journey and continue to pursue our passion.

That’s all from me for now. If you’d like to join a welcoming community of writers to talk about goals and aspirations, then our Discord server is the place to be. Check out the show notes at writerroadmap.com for the link to join.

Thank you for listening and happy planning.

Writer Roadmap intro and outro music used under license from Pixabay. Music track “Salangseuleoun” was Created by “Dayfox”.

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