Friday, March 1, 2013

Tips for Handling Stressors in Publishing by Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner

We’ve often said here at Seriously Write that the journey to publication is not an easy road. It’s good to be prepared for dips, bumps, and unexpected detours. It’s also important to be aware that we’ll face new challenges once we reach our first destination and become “published.” I’ve admired Susan Meissner for some time and have read a number of her books. I’m so glad she’s here today, sharing wisdom gained during her own writing journey for handling those things that may stress us out. ~ Dawn

Tips for Handling Stressors in Publishing
by Susan Meissner

Sometimes when people ask me what is one thing I wished I had known from the get-go about this industry is that just because you are published, that doesn’t mean the opportunities for stress suddenly disappear.

The stressors that can plague you in your pre-published days – the waiting, the multiple rejections, the close calls where you almost had it, the pages and pages of rewrites – morph into new stressors, like reviews by people who totally missed your point, Amazon numbers that you just can’t seem NOT to look at, the horror of being told you are in charge of your own marketing, royalty statements that make you feel like anything BUT royalty, and the envy that slides up out of the darkest part of you when colleagues find a place on the bestseller list and you don’t.

There are probably many other stressors out there but let’s look at just a few of them to see if we can’t adjust our perspective a little bit.

Bad reviews:
There are always going to be readers and reviewers out there who don’t get you, who don’t get your Christian worldview, who don’t like what you wrote or how you wrote it. The reviewers whose opinion matters to you are the ones you need to honestly consider. The rest you need to let go. Don’t respond to them. Don’t complain about them on your social networking sites.  There is usually, not always, a kernel of truth to a review that is uncomplimentary. Find the kernel, learn from it, and let it go.

Marketplace madness:
I know what my skill set is. I can write. I can teach. Marketing is a different skill set. That is why publishers have an editorial department and a marketing department and they are staffed by different people. I have come to a place where I am okay with my limitations. I do what I can do the best of my ability when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. I maintain a professional website, a blog, a newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and I accept outside invitations for interviews, guest blog posts and teaching opportunities. But at the end of the day I am a writer, not a salesperson. And I am okay with that. Find three marketing tools that you can excel at and do those three to the best of your ability.

Envy is not your friend
When you’ve done your absolute best but the sales numbers just don’t match up, the best way to counteract feelings of defeat, bitterness and envy is to cultivate joy for the success of others. Facebook and Twitter give us instant insights into all the great things that happen to other people. The more time you spend in social networking, the more you will be exposed to the good fortunes of others. When the envy monster wants to crawl out of you, stop and pray and thank God for that other writer. Know that the monster will be back tomorrow. Or an hour later even. In all honesty, you will need to be in attitude of prayerful thanksgiving for the rest of your life.

Remember, that you are not your writing career. What happens in your writing life doesn’t define who you are. God only measures our contributions to the world by how much we love.

And no one but you can put a limit on that.

Click to reach Amazon.
Susan Meissner is the author of 14 novels, including The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. She also enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with her family, music, reading great books, and traveling. She lives in southern California with her pastor husband and their four grown children.

Connect with Susan here:
Twitter: @SusanMeissner - Facebook: Susan Meissner


  1. What a great reminder that we are not our writing careers. We have a life outside writing, something I sometimes need to be remember. Thanks, Susan.

  2. I love the line about "Amazon numbers that you just can’t seem NOT to look at". If my husband was at all computer literate I am sure he would try to block Amazon on my computer. I'm glad I can at least vent to him that my book slipped on Amazon's best sellers list again.

    These are all great reminders, especially that we should only concentrate on a few marketing steps which we can do well. We can't do it all.

    1. Thanks, Chris. I can honestly say I've gotten much better about the Amazon vanity looks. I hardly ever hop on there anymore. It's like giving up Diet Coke. Once I realized I really didn't need it to survive and that my bones will love for me for not being addicted to it, it wasn't so hard to say goodbye to.

  3. " in attitude of prayerful thanksgiving for the rest of your life." Awesome, Susan! Striving for this daily.

    Thanks for sharing such uplifting words of encouragement. :-)

  4. Susan, Well said. Although I can handle bad reviews (sort of) and have learned to ignore marketplace madness (to some extent), envy continues to rear its ugly head. I sometimes reach the point of refusing to read the tweets and facebook posts of fellow authors, because they make it seem that I'm the only one who is slogging through my current work-in-progress while all around me people are going out to lunch with friends, collecting royalties, signing new contracts, and in general making me envious.
    I've come to the conclusion that writing is like golf--not the professional kind, but the amateur game where you're simply trying to do your very best, not competing with anyone else. My golf partner and I take it to a new level: we don't keep score. Maybe I can adapt that to writing.
    Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks for the affirmation,Richard. I totally see your analogy. The only golf I've ever played is miniature golf, but I love in SoCal where people can and do golf yearround. I see lots of people golfing solo, just them, their bag of clubs and that little white ball that often seems to have a mind of its own!

    2. Richard, I don't have any novels published yet, but I can also relate to sometimes feeling envious when I hear about 3-book contracts being awarded or someone signing with the my dream agent. I wonder, too, how some can juggle day jobs, four kids, be involved in numerous ministries, have time for friends, and still write 2 or more books a year. What is their energy source? LOL

      I agree ... we need to remember that we all have different abilities, and our job is to just do the best we can with what we're given. ;-)

  5. What lovely reminders, Susan. I just haven't caught the twitter bug and my singleton blog is on its way out. But I do two group blogs that are fun when lots else about writing isn't LOL. I loved your mention of God's measurement of our contributions. I sometimes forget that. Thanks for everything.

  6. Glad to hear it. I was a Twitter holdout for a long time but I realized a while back that it is a platform for marketing that really doesn't eat into my writing time. It doesn't take long to write a sentence with less than 150 characters! That's why it's good to find the three marketing things you can do, do well, and do happily, and then don't stress about the rest.

  7. Good thoughts, Susan. You can indeed write and teach - I love your books and have learned from your teaching.


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