There is a lot of benefit to joining and networking with others who are in the same business as you are. For creative entrepreneurs, there are plenty of organizations, private groups and email lists to go around. (I know about the writerly ones, so those are the ones I’ll discuss.) We go to these loops and groups to share our wisdom, our knowledge, our experiences and above all else….to bitch. We bitch about everything Amazon.com does. They are the evil empire, our fellow authors tell us. They are going to take over the world an then there will inevitably be higher prices for readers, lower cuts for authors, a monopoly on the book biz, dogs and cats, sleeping together; mass hysteria! But we don’t discriminate. We bitch about lots of other things too. After Amazon the Evil Empire posts, the main topic on the loops are about pirate sites, i.e. sites on the internet where ebooks are being sold illegally. Someone scours the net, discovers one of these sites, and then posts a warning, telling everyone to go to the site, search for their titles, send take down notices. And everyone does, and a day or two later, the whole thing repeats.
Note: I’m only saying “we” here to be kind. I do not do these things.
We bitch about our organizations. Where they choose to hold their conference. (Hint: if it’s not in our back yard, we’re against it.) We gripe about every change in the rules of every writing contest. (Hint: if it’s not to our benefit, we’re against it.) We complain and critique every revamp of every organization’s website. (Hint: if we can’t figure out how to navigate it, we’re against it. And it’s stupid. And its designer should be shot.) We panic when our sales drop and we post notes about that, and then other writers who have also had a drop in recent sales numbers, jump in and agree, and onlookers are convinced that the sky is, indeed, falling.
But the sky is only falling for those who believe it is. For those of us who believe our industry is full of sunshine and rainbows, sunshine and rainbows are what we will experience. With an occasional unicorn thrown in as a bonus. So let’s get to the root of the matter here. I understand the appeal of bitching. It can be so much freaking fun.
But words have power. Writers know this better than anyone. Words can create, validate, and change beliefs. Belief is what creates reality. I understand that this concept might be new to some. I get that while you may have heard this stuff about creating your reality and positive thinking, you might not have considered allowing the theory to interfere with your bitching fun. But the people doing the bitching are blocking their own success, blocking their wealth and their well being. They’re blocking their happiness. They’re blocking their sales. And they’re doing the same to many of those in the peanut gallery. What we focus on grows. What we believe, becomes. If we want our business to succeed, we can best achieve that by focusing on what we love about it, what is working, what is thriving. We cannot label Amazon as the Evil Empire, and still expect to make a lot of money from them. That’s what is meant by that old saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” If we really believe they are out to destroy us, then that’s going to be our experience. If we notice our falling sales and take to the loops to whine about it, our sales will continue to plummet. And so will the sales of anyone who believes that there’s some vast conspiracy behind it. And once these things get some momentum behind them, it’s very hard to turn them around. So here’s a new way to think about all of this, and you can apply it to whatever it is you do and see excellent and speedy results. 1. Those you work with are not your enemies. This includes Amazon, Harlequin, every retailer, every publisher, every reviewer, every reader, every organization. These people and entities are the moving parts of the machine that powers your business. Embrace them. Celebrate the wonderful things that working with them brings to you. Send praise and gratitude for every dollar that shows up in your KDP account.
2. Stop playing Whack-a-mole with pirates. Your focus and attention on internet theft will make it into a big problem for you. I ignore it. I almost never send a takedown notice, because it does no good. And you know what? The less time I spend looking for pirates, the less my work is pirated. (Apply the same to all those plagiarism tales you hear. Do not even think about going out and running phrase searches on other peoples’ books. You will get what you go looking for.) Focus on the readers who are willing to by your books and take advantage of your freebies, and that is the group that will grow larger.
3. Yes, join the groups, network, and sign onto the email loops if you want. I’m a member of most of them. But I set my subscriptions to digest and that way I can scan the subject lines and choose which ones I want to read. (Fewer than one topic per digest, honestly. Sometimes as few as one a week.) I do not read or participate in any of the “Sky is falling” types of posts. Be selective in where you put your focus. Don’t subject yourself to the negative energy of the naysayers.
Sidebar: The publishing sky has been falling since I got into this business in 1992, according to the Chicken-Littles-who-think-themselves-Paul-Reveres of the book biz. And yet, I’m making more money than ever before. You do the math.
4. Wherever you go, be responsible for the energy you bring. Try to lift people up rather than shooting them down. Be an encourager, not a doubter. When timid newcomers announce their ideas, don’t tell them why it can’t work. Tell them how it can. Stop griping, and start praising. This sort of approach takes practice. The loops and groups are a perfect training ground for you to begin applying what you have learned. Approach it like a scientific experiment. See if the things you praise grow bigger and get better. (Hint: they will.) Also, don’t worry too much if you feel like you’re forcing it at first. It’s not going to take you very long to experience a shift of perspective. Looking for things to praise and intuitively turning away from negativity will become your new default setting in very short order. And oh, the things that start happening in your life then! You’re going to be amazed. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go feed my unicorns.