Today I’m thankful to bless you with my friend Robin Lee Hatcher’s words. She recently wrote this as a post on a writer’s loop we’re both on, and I loved it so much, I asked if I could share it with you. Whether you’re a writer or not, I believe this post will strengthen you and help you with perspective. (Side note: CBA is Christian Booksellers Association, in other words, writing for the Christian book market. ABA is the American Booksellers Association, or writing for the general market).
When I came to the CBA from the ABA, the lower numbers of print runs and sell-throughs felt like a kick in the gut. Remember, the CBA is about 10% the size of the ABA, and that has a lot to do with what is considered average or normal in one market compared to another. And I definitely wasn’t a bestseller. I had to build a whole new readership, so although I’d already written 30 novels, I was essentially a new writer in CBA market.
I’ve experienced more than one disappointment in my writing career, and here are three things that have helped me with the disappointments that have come my way.
First, I asked God to help me define success in this new career. In the ABA, success is about numbers and bestseller lists and major awards. But now I was writing for the Lord. What defined success in this new career path? For the answer, He took me to Joshua 1:8 which reads, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” He impressed upon me that success in my new career is defined in my obedience to Him. Write what He tells me and leave the results up to Him. Tough to do when I am encouraged (and must) do a lot of PR and marketing work myself. But even in my marketing efforts, I must leave the results to Him. Give Him my very best and then rest. Be still and know that He is God.
Second, I was called into a writing ministry, and I came to realize that even small numbers in publishing reach more people than most ministers do in their lifetime. Say my book sells 15,000 copies. How many ministers of the gospel reach 15,000 church goers in their lifetimes? Given the number of churches in the US with only 50 or 100 members versus the number of mega churches, I think I can safely answer that, “Not many.” But if I was called into a writing ministry and my books are sharing biblical truths with my readers, 15,000 is actually quite amazing. And if my numbers are 20k or 30k or 50k or 75k or more, think how I may be impacting the kingdom of God. I should be as faithful to my calling as a pastor is to his calling.
Finally, I’ve learned the error of ever comparing myself or my writing or my career with another. When Peter looked at John and said to Jesus, “What about him?”, Jesus told him (Robin’s paraphrase) to mind his own business and let John worry about John. This, too, helps me when the disappoints arrive. Because what usually makes me feel bad is also wrapped up in knowing that Author X is selling twice as many copies as I am or knowing that Author Y was given a wonderful author tour or Author Z just got a movie option or … The list goes on and on. Comparing ourselves with others is a very unhealthy practice. We are not to compare. God has readers for me to reach. He has readers for other authors to reach. Better look to my own books and my own relationship with Christ and my obedience to Him, and let others worry about themselves.
So there you go. Those are the three things that have helped me when disappointment arises. Perhaps they’ll help others too.
Find out more about Robin at her website or her facebook page! Thanks, Robin for sharing with my dear readers! You’re a gem.