It can kill your career before it even gets off the ground.
There are a lot of things authors are – creative, strange, full of life and energy, always open to a story. All these qualities are good ones to have. It’s what makes you good at what you do. However, as I have traveled this world in the last twenty years, I have found one character trait that can be a bit of a killer in the process. Now, to be fair and fairly specific, this trait appears most often in newer writers and authors and not as much as those who have been in the business for a long time. So, what is this buzz word? What is the descriptor that can potentially kill a career before it starts?
Stubborn – also known as Hard to Work With.
This is something no writer or author wants on their professional resume. Right? You don’t tout you’re stubborn as part of your skill set. Some people don’t even realize they are stubborn and that alone can be a deal breaker. Don’t worry, there may be reasons you’re being stubborn and to help you out, let me share my own story.
When I was publishing the first book with my name on it (I have been a ghostwriter for almost 20 years), I had a very specific idea for my book cover. There were certain elements I needed on the cover for me to be happy with it. I wanted it in a certain color and I thought my preliminary design was pretty awesome. Cue cover designer –
The cover designer, let’s call him Jon, came in with quite the vast array of ideas, none of which matched my vision. After weeks of going back and forth, I relented to putting the covers out for beta testing (i.e. voting via social media). And guess what, I was wrong. One cover he designed won hands down while my preliminary idea came up short. His response to my frustration, “People actually judge a book by its cover and you need a cover people will pick up off the shelf.”
How could he be so nonchalant in his victory? Because he knows his stuff and I would do well to listen to him. (Thank you Dracon Studios).
Why are we so stubborn?
There are plenty of reasons why we cling to our ideas and creative ventures the way we do but here are some ways to detect and overcome our stubborn nature.
1 – Because it’s my heart and soul!
Look, we all get it. You’ve poured everything you’ve got into this piece of artwork, no matter the medium. It’s hard to let it go and allow someone else to help you carry your vision. When you’ve worked this hard on something, planning every detail is just part of the gig. The vision is in your head and your head alone. And that’s okay. Share the vision and allow someone to help you see it through. Do this by allowing things to be voted on by your tribe. Do this by allowing someone else to make suggestions and you have to actually consider them before you summarily dismiss them.
2 – If you’ve nailed my vision better than I could, my vision must be wrong.
This is Imposter Syndrome at its best, and yes that is really a thing. Digging into you, telling you-you have no place in this business. Hey, all those doubts and fears manifest themselves well when someone outside yourself is telling you the vision should look a little different. This is a wide-spread issue with editors, designers, artists, publishers, and writers. So you are not alone.
You are the expert on your story. Only you know why it was written the way it was written and only you could tell it from this unique point of view. However, tell yourself this very fact, “I am not the expert on all things, only of my story.” Hopefully, if you’re self-publishing, you have brought together a team of people you can trust, and they are the experts in their parts of your industry, whatever that may be. Is an editor always right? No but they are 98.9% of the time. Is every initial cover design a winner? No, especially if a professional had no hand in it.
If you are traditionally published, while you may not get the top of the budget or a lot of marketing, traditional publishers know what sells and how to do it well. That I can say with certainty. They have so many tools at their disposal to get this done, they are generally the experts everyone looks to. If you’re unsure, check out their other authors to see if the vision matches from start to finish.
Bottom line: Stick to what you know best – your story – and leave the professionals to the other parts.
3 – I want complete control over my work.
This is why you picked mentor publishing, vanity publishing or self-publishing and I can admire that as I feel the same way. An attitude like this can also be your downfall even in these worlds where you essentially have complete control over it all. While control is great and definitely you’re right as the author, sometimes you need to understand you may not know everything meant to be done before or after you publish.
Find a mentor or take a class. When I went to a mentoring weekend, I had an epiphany that changed my entire self-published world and only because I looked for information beyond what I knew. I stepped out of my box. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have learned something critical to my Indie publishing world.
In other words, you’ve written something awesome and it really is genuinely yours. It is important and relevant but in order to see your entire vision, be flexible and open-minded. Don’t give up all creative rights, by all means, be critical. Be thoughtful. Just don’t make yourself someone difficult to work with. This world of publishing seems really big but in actuality, it’s small. People who know what they’re doing have been doing it long enough everybody knows who they are which makes it all tricky.
The world of publishing has its own gossip and talk. And in this world of talk, you don’t want your name synonymous with the world stubborn or difficult.
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