My brain tried hard to convince me *not* to do it… and almost won.
I had the manuscript and book cover for a poetry book ready in March 2019.
I hit the “Publish” button on Amazon KDP in June 2023. More than four years later, my second book of poems, Taming Infinity was out in the world.
What took me so long to put my work in front of the world?
The self-talk that made me doubt my talent every step along the way.
This post is about how I struggled with low self-esteem as an author, how it *almost* got the better of me, and how I fought and won, even though it took me four years.
I’ve also listed some actionable takeaways and mindset shifts for any person who has ever doubted if their words have worth. Read on, and if the article makes you smile, leave a comment and spread the love.
Overcoming negative self-talk can be a b*tch
“Should I really publish another poetry book?”
That’s what my brain kept on telling me for the past four years. The reasons to *not* publish were many —
- No one really reads poetry anymore.
- My poems aren’t that good.
- Marketing is an exhausting job. Do I really want to immerse myself in it again?
While the reason to go ahead and publish it was simply, “I poured my heart out into the book, and I want to share it with the world.”
But the self-doubt was stronger than this conviction.
I sat on the manuscript for four years and only published it now because my boyfriend asked me, “You almost didn’t publish your first poetry book either. Can’t you see how it changed your life?”
He was right, and Stolen Reflections did actually change my life.
- It let me call myself a “writer” rather than just a “blogger.”
- It got me invited to several book clubs and literary fests.
- It became the #1 bestseller in poetry on Amazon India.
- It was recommended by Priyanka Chopra Jonas as one of the “Must-Read Books by Indian Woman Authors” on International Women’s Day 2021.
Before publishing Stolen Reflections, I’d convinced myself that no one reads poetry anymore, but look at how many ways the book has proved me wrong. Reflecting on the past gave me some motivation and helped me get past my doubts.
I don’t know what role Taming Infinity, my newest poetry book will play in my career as a writer. But I know that it will be at least 1% more impactful when it’s out in the world compared to when it’s just sitting in my drafts.
In other words, publishing your book might not give you any significant returns, but not publishing it will definitely not give you any results.
You do it because it makes you happy
As an author, if you feel your book doesn’t have any value, remember that you’re not doing it to prove anything to anyone.
Not every book can become the next bestseller, but that doesn’t mean your book is worthless.
You might write something super-niche that ends up being read by only a handful of people. This doesn’t imply your book isn’t good enough.
If you think about all the ways your book might fail, you’ll probably never even get around to publishing it.
Instead, think of how happy it will make you feel. Imagine the tag of “published author” and how good it will look on your resume.
You publish a book because you make it happy.
Don’t let self-doubt take this away from you.
Fewer sales are not a reflection of your art
Selling more copies of a book is a direct reflection of how effective the marketing strategy was.
Most authors fail to see this and only wallow in self-pity if their numbers are low.
Here’s a bitter pill to swallow: Your job as a writer doesn’t end once you hit the “publish” button. In fact, that’s when the hardest part of the job begins.
If you’re a new writer, your friends and family might buy a few copies to encourage you. But you can’t expect every online follower to purchase your book to show support.
You have to design a marketing strategy in such a way that it makes people want to buy your book. Some lessons I’ve learned from marketing my previous books are —
- Book promotions aren’t a 1-month or even 6-month process. Since a published book remains live forever, your marketing strategy has to be staggered over a long time. Think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint.
- Sending out free copies in exchange for reviews is a wonderful way to gain credibility for the books. Reviews attract new prospective buyers.
- There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to guarantee book sales. You’ll have multiple hits and misses before you figure out a strategy that works for you.
- Let go of the fear of being judged when you promote your work. As an author, there’s no shame in talking about what you wrote. If you don’t promote your book, no one else will.
Here’s a conversation I had with Jordan Gross about the staggered book marketing approach —
Focus on what’s more important than money
When you write a book, you pour your heart and soul into it. You write it because you have a story in your head that can’t be contained. The sheer joy of being called a published author and holding your first book in your hands is worth more than anything money can buy.
None of these should be equated with how many sales your book has had, or how many spikes are there on your Amazon KDP dashboard.
Yes, marketing is important, but the first step is writing, then publishing.
Your self-talk shouldn’t stand in the way of what could be one of the proudest moments of your life.
Publishing your book might not give you any significant returns, but not publishing it will definitely not give you any results.
Hope you enjoyed this article. If you’re interested in the publishing and marketing aspects, I have covered some of my experience here —