Five Ways to Bruise An Author’s Spirit…and Five Ways to Bolster It

Today I’m ruminating a bit on the author life…

Author life in today’s internet-saturated era has unprecedented highs and lows. Authors get immediate feedback on books, from more readers than ever before. It’s a wonderful thing, reaching more readers–but it does come with a price tag.

If you ask anyone who knows me well, they’ll tell you I have mentioned at least once or twice (read: at least ten times) that I’ve considered quitting writing. As in, taking down the blog, the Facebook page, the twitter account, stopping in the middle of series and just walking away.

Why would an author even think this, you might wonder. Most of you are encouragers who tell authors you enjoy them and try to build them up. So what things would bruise a writer’s spirit so much they would consider quitting?

I’m sharing a couple lists below of five things that bruise and five things that bolster an author’s spirit, but if you’re an author, I hope you will please comment below and share about some of those extraordinary highs and lows. Something that always helps me get through is knowing I’m not the only author who has experienced these things!

Five Things that Bruise An Author’s Spirit:

-Finding several low reviews (1-2 stars) crop up the same day under your book on Amazon. Doesn’t matter if they didn’t make sense and are poorly worded. Just matters that you’re staring at several 1-2 stars…and so is anyone else who checks out your book. Also, to be totally honest, sometimes it only takes one to send you reeling.

-You discover you didn’t win those contests you entered…in fact, you didn’t even place. You kick yourself for spending money/putting your books out there.

-When an author “friend” stabs you in the back in the scramble to the top, or when authors form cliques you can’t even pretend to fit in.

lonewolf
(Talking ourselves down when we don’t fit in writer cliques) “I’m a lone wolf. I don’t need a pack…”

-A family/household emergency emerges that has the power to derail you for months or even years in your writing.

-That day when you check your email for the 12th time, after a year of checking it every day, and you finally hear from that publisher who really loved your book, but wonders if you have anything else to show them? 

Yes, days like these can definitely bruise an author and often make us want to quit altogether. Sometimes it feels like no one is “getting” our books or our writing style or…us.

The thing is, as authors, we are writing for readers, not purely for ourselves. So if we feel we’re missing all the marks, it seems like Game. Over.

But let’s ponder some things that bolster an author’s spirit (which is actually an artist’s spirit, when you come down to it).

Five Things that Bolster an Author’s Spirit:

-Readers who mention your books because they truly love them. They review them. They share them with others. They email you to let you know you rocked their world. Along those lines, readers who ask you when that next-in-series book is coming out, because they keep you accountable.

reader
We love our avid readers!

-Spouses/friends/children who love you and support you, no matter which hare-brained book idea you’re following at the moment.

-Author friends who stick behind you through thick and thin, ready to read your books and offer advice.

-Librarians and bookstore owners who are thrilled to support you/set up book signings.

-Other authors in your genre who enjoy your books and tell others or even endorse you.

So there you have it…what would you add to the list, author? Reader, what have you done that authors let you know made a difference?

Finally, here’s the conclusion of the matter: no matter how bruised you may feel as an author, no one can break you except yourself.

Write on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 thoughts on “Five Ways to Bruise An Author’s Spirit…and Five Ways to Bolster It

  1. Hi Heather! No, my dear. You are not alone. Folks (writers) who say/pretend they’ve never experienced the lows are…um…fibbing. By nature I’m an encourager, but sometimes even encouragers need encouraged.

    Just want you to know–I’ve been there. And I’m rooting for you, too!! 🙂

    1. Ah, Cynthia–one of the best encouragers I know! I still have that cute fake chocolate bar keychain you sent me once…anyway, I digress. Yes, sometimes it’s easy to focus on the great things, especially when we’re marketing. But in reality, those tough things knock us for more loops than anyone can imagine. Thank you for being an encourager for your fellow authors, my friend.

  2. I have to combat feeling low when my sales are low. I begin to wonder if the returns are worth the effort. It’s not about money; it’s about mission, for I do not write to entertain but to encourage others by revealing Jesus to them. So when sales are low, I feel like a preacher who preaches to an empty church. What REALLY encourages me are the notes I receive from readers that share how the book effected their life, perhaps helped their marriage or caused them to view their circumstances differently, and then the Lord reminds me–usually through my husband if I haven’t received a note in a bit–that encouraging even one reader to press into Jesus is about as marvelous a reward as a person can gain on this earth and not to be belittled because the world would not count it as success.

    1. Sydney! Yes! Very much so. We do need income from our writing, otherwise it’s just a hobby. And yet you are so right. If our books have touched one reader, they have been a success. If we have followed God’s leading in what we wrote, no matter how it was received, it was a success. Thank you for that long-view reminder!

  3. Great post, Heather. In my case, it’s so much easier for me to be unaffected by things when I’m a lone wolf…but that isn’t what getting on this ride is all about, you know?

    I’m one who needs long periods of alone time to recharge, and it can be awful when I come back from that feeling refreshed and ready to go, only to find that my absence has been misinterpreted, that I’ve been forgotten, or worse, replaced. The internet-saturated era we live in demands high levels of interaction, and some of us really struggle to function that way.

    But I love, love, love getting personal notes or emails from my readers. Even just a “Loved your book!” means they’ve gone out of their way to let me know what I’m doing is touching lives.

    Thanks for being real,
    Becky

    1. Hey gal, you know I know where you’re coming from. I don’t prefer lone wolf status but sometimes we do have to walk alone, eh? It is tricky to take breaks in this biz because I know I frequently feel that if I drop off the social media map, I’m essentially dead to the world and no one will care when and if I return. And yet look at Harper Lee…

  4. Don’t quit. You’ve got a voice.

    I try to let authors know by email – or by sending a message through their agent, if known – how much their book has meant to me. I’ve also telephoned the authors of some memoirs, just to say, Thanks. A couple of these guys – WW2 veterans – started crying. They couldn’t believe they were worth calling.

    One thing that almost killed my writing was someone very close to me not only not being interested in what I’d written, but making the comment “I’m sure it’s based on something you read about.”

    Ouch.

    I don’t follow reviews of Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart on Amazon. I’m happy with the book; I did my best. There it stands.

    1. Makes sense to me, Andrew…I’ve gone back and forth on reading reviews but curiosity always seems to win out! And I can imagine your words were such a blessing to those veterans. Yes, sometimes those close to us can wound us, generally unintentionally, when talking about our writing. And yet I know these friends truly want the best for me, even if my book isn’t the absolute favorite thing they’ve ever read. Goodness knows I have come a long way from my high school/college days, in which I didn’t want to listen to any critiques!

      Thanks for stopping in and commenting today, Andrew!

  5. And then there’s the low of finally working up the nerve to tell people you’re an actual author and getting that blank look . . . Oh right. Something like 50% of people don’t even READ books. Conversely, there’s the day at church when someone you’ve only met once before says, “Hey, are you that writer? I loved your book!”

    We need that pen thing from Men in Black to make us forget the lows!

    1. Yes, Sarah! Thanks for mentioning that about when you finally say it aloud: “I’m an author!” But you’re right–that day when someone comes to YOU and says they loved your book–it’s golden! And I love that Men in Black pen idea…

  6. Feeling the highs and lows starts early. I’m not even done with my ms, and I can relate. I think it’s just the nature of artistic expression. Thanks for being honest. Miss your comradery here!

  7. After receiving several encouraging responses from editors about my manuscripts that basically led nowhere, my personal life required me to take a step away from my writing. For 10 years I set aside my stories to deal with the lowest of lows. But then God opened the door again, revived in me the fire to write and took me from that low to a high I still have a hard time believing is real. Yes, the lows still come because of low reviews, discouraging emails–and all the other things you mentioned above–but because of the journey I’ve taken to get here, I strongly believe I’m where God wants me to be. Those lows–especially the low reviews and discouraging emails–really do a number on me mentally, so I have to constantly remind myself that I do this for HIS glory, not my own. And honestly, I have to remind myself of this even when I’m experiencing the highs! It’s too easy to get caught up in the trap of “They love me! They really, really love me!” I’d love to say that I manage to keep an even keel and let none of the lows or highs affect me, but hey, I’m human–and a people pleaser to boot!-so yeah, I entertain thoughts of getting off this roller coaster ride, but then I have these little voices whispering in my ear…”You haven’t told MY story yet!” and I’m back at my computer doing what I love! 😀

    Thanks for a great article, Heather. 🙂

    1. Kimberly–you definitely hit the nail on the head as to WHY we keep doing this to ourselves–because how can we NOT?! I am so thrilled you followed God’s leading and got those books out, and you’ve now amassed a HUGE crew of reader-followers, I know. Great reminder that we’re not in it for our glory, which can be what drives those contest entries (at least for me). I’m definitely pulling away from that to focus on the most important thing: getting more books out to the readers who already enjoy them.

  8. Nooooo. You must never quit! Your characters are so loaded with personality they’ve come alive for me. I’ve enjoyed spending time with them and would love to read more! (and thats from an avid reader/author 😉 )

  9. I belong to the pre-pubbed set but can relate to many of your points..One of my biggest frustrations is the “alone time” spent as an extrovert. Too much!
    Thanks for posting Heather! I’ve wanted to quit more times than I can count and than a big encouragement comes along like this post 😊 Keep writing Heather!

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