Episode 013 – Writing Success Isn’t Linear

In this week’s episode, we cover the ups and downs of publishing and how to be resilient.

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Infographic. Text reads
success isn't linear
Achievements are found in both highs and lows.
Indie authors balance multiple roles, adding complexity.
Challenges provide valuable feedback and growth.
Past results don't define future efforts
Cultivate resilience through perseverance.
Each setback is a stepping stone. 
Despite challenges, writing is FUN!

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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 today we’re delving into an important but often misunderstood concept in the writing world: the non-linear journey of success. Buckle up, fellow authors, this might be a bumpy, yet enlightening ride.

Our understanding of success is often painted in absolutes. The straight-A student, the start-up that becomes a billion-dollar enterprise overnight, the author whose début novel becomes a bestseller. But let’s get real. For the majority of us, success isn’t a linear trajectory or an overnight miracle. It’s a winding path, punctuated by steep ascents, unexpected falls, and yes, even the occasional cul-de-sac. Behind every supposedly overnight success story is the untold tale of hardship, setbacks, rejections and failures.

But what commonly gets shown is the finished product, the one thing that launched its creator to dizzying heights. It’s easy to assume that some of the people we look up to were just handed their success and while that may be true for the 1% who have inherited generational wealth and privilege, it isn’t true for many very successful creatives and innovators.

For independent authors managing their own literary business, the reality of this non-linear journey is especially pronounced. You are the writer, the project manager, the marketer, and the PR department all in one. You’re navigating book sales, managing advertisements, engaging with readers on social media, and all while still trying to meet your writing goals and maintain joy in the process.

When you encounter a rough patch, when your book sales dip or a marketing campaign doesn’t yield the results you hoped for, remember: this is just one part of your larger journey. It’s not a dead-end, it’s a learning curve. Don’t view these moments as failures but as valuable feedback, an opportunity to learn and grow. Revise your marketing strategies, seek advice from other indie authors, refine your craft, and continue to push forward.

Very few authors achieve success in the form of a high volume of sales or living wage income from a single book or series. It usually takes a lot of hard work and many books or series in order to carve out that kind of success. Even with a big back catalogue, it can be possible to experience dips, rather than a smooth line upward on the trajectory of sales or income.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a book might not perform as well as you’d hoped or as well as the last one. Things change, the market is fickle and the industry is always evolving. So what used to work, doesn’t always continue to do so. Rather than being discouraged by this knowledge, it’s important to cultivate resilience and to have faith in ourselves as creators and entrepreneurs, if that’s your motivation.

It’s important to understand that past performance is not an indicator of future results. Every new book, every new series is a fresh start, a new opportunity. You never know which story will resonate with your readers, which character will become their favourite, or which book will be your breakthrough moment. So keep writing, keep publishing, keep experimenting.

On the harder days, when the words aren’t flowing, or you feel like you’re taking more steps back than forward, remind yourself that progress is hardly ever linear. Even the most successful authors have struggled with writer’s block, faced harsh criticism, and dealt with the sting of rejection. Each hurdle is a step on your journey to success.

In fact, it’s through weathering these challenges that we grow as writers. Every time you overcome a bout of writer’s block, every time you digest and implement critique to improve your work, every time you push through self-doubt and keep writing, you’re not only making progress, you’re honing your skills, refining your craft, and getting closer to your goals.

It’s often touted that writing is hard and that we must suffer for our art. I don’t believe that has to be true. I believe writing can and should be fun and rewarding. Even when the reality is that most of us will experience challenges and frustrations, we can acknowledge this and still move forward with positive energy and an open mind. If we expect hardship, chances are, that’s exactly what we’ll get. But if we seek out fun and pleasure and focus on the parts of this journey that are joyful, we are more likely to persevere and ultimately find the success we want, however we define it.

So, my fellow authors, I want to leave you with this: The path to success is seldom a straight line. It’s full of twists and turns, setbacks, and victories. Embrace each part of it. Use your setbacks as stepping stones, your mistakes as lessons, and remember, every word you write is a step forward, no matter how small it might seem.

Keep persevering, keep writing, and most importantly, believe in your story. After all, you’re the hero of your own writing journey, and every hero’s journey is fraught with challenges, but those challenges lead to triumph.

As always, I’m here to help guide your writer’s journey. If you’d like to get regular group or individual coaching with me as you navigate these ups and downs, you can do so at patreon.com/hollylyne

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Until next time, happy planning.

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

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