JA Konrath wrote an excellent blog on April 23, about how writers should exude confidence:
We all have lapses in confidence. It’s human. But if you want to have a writing career, DON’T SHOW WEAKNESS IN PUBLIC.
Charlie Brown isn’t a good marketer. Sure, we can all identify with being the loser. Especially if we’re at a signing and only one person shows up, or if we get dropped by our publisher, or if we don’t win that big award we were nominated for, et cetera ad nauseum. Writers are magnets for bad luck. And publicly denigrating ourselves may get us a measure of sympathy.
Unfortunately, sympathy doesn’t sell books. Stephen King is not a bestseller because people feel sorry for him. King is a winner. Winners tend to keep winning. He knows it, and the world agrees.
The secret to being a winner is confidence. Since most of us lack in this department, being sensitive artist types, we have to learn to fake confidence.
Of course he’s right.Â AndÂ I guess I’m pretty good at faking confidence.Â But theÂ truth is,Â I’ve always felt like Charlie Brown.Â Â
The publishing industryÂ excels at making you feel like a loser.Â Although I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of success, the journey to this point has been a gantlet of nasty reviewers and rigid bean counters and grumpy readers wielding clubs, ready to whack you over the head.Â So it’s no surprise that any writer who’s had a slow climb to the bestseller lists (it took me till book #10, if you count my romances) will arrive at that destinationÂ called “success” feeling a little bruised and very uncertain about how long she can stay.Â And feeling uncertain, too, about whether she deserves to even be there.
Joe Konrath described a panel where one writer essentially admitted that he was a loser and thatÂ no one would want to buy his book.Â There were times when I could’ve been that writer, but thankfully I resisted the urge to blurt out how much of I loser IÂ was.Â
Loserhood isn’tÂ just about book sales, either.Â It’s aboutÂ who gets the media attention, who gets the extravagant praise, and who gets asked out for drinks.Â When everyone is fawning slavishly over author XYZ, and ignoring you, well — the result is a whole room of writers who feel like losers.Â
I suspect our industry is particularly tough on egos.Â Part of it is just the sheer odds against anyone getting published.Â Â Years of rejection prime youÂ for disappointment.Â Then whenÂ you finally get published, you’re facing a new set of odds against your book being a big success in the markektplace.Â I’ve read that about 300,000 new titles are published every year.Â Many of those are self-published books, but still — the competition is staggering.Â Then your book comes out andÂ suddenly everyone’s a critic.Â A bad review inÂ the local newspaper gets seen by all your friends and relatives.Â A bad review on Amazon gets seen by the whole world.Â Yeah, okay, so you’re a published author.
You stillÂ feel like a loser.
I have a feeling most writers feel as unsure of themselves as I do.Â The industry almost forces us to feel that way.Â But Joe’s right –Â part of our job is to exude confidence and success.Â
So fake it.