Right, or Pleasantly Surprised?

As I waited for Amazon to accept me or reject me, my mind was whirling with ups and downs of why I could succeed and why I could fail.  What would my future hold?  This giant corporation had the blossoming bud of my life’s dream in their hands and I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation to see what their verdict could mean for the rest of my career as an author.  Would they toss it aside, or help it grow?

I don’t think I did a bad job at the campaign.  By my figures, I spent close to half my entire 30 day campaign hot and trending – the last week I was close to spending every day-all day hot.  I got almost 3.5k views.  Five out of the top ten Scouts in the leaderboard nominated my book, including the #1 Scout.  My marketing folks I hired to help me showered me in support and compliments (I like to hope it’s because they liked my story and not because they were trying to make a customer happy).  I managed to make a little noise and got some positive feedback from total strangers who contacted me of their own accord to tell me they liked my story and wished me luck.  Never once did I see any complaints or criticism despite being braced for the oversaturation-hate of vampires.  Like, I was soooo braced (if you couldn’t tell from my two blog posts trying to justify myself).  So now it’s like I am at the opposite side of the tug-a-war rope when the other team decides to just suddenly let go and I’m tumbling backwards from the force of my own pull because I didn’t expect there to be absolutely no resistance.  I’m reeling, in a good way.  Maybe the market is turning back to being more accepting of vampire stories.  Maybe I could do this.

But honestly?  All other things considering, I was positive I would be rejected, but I was absolutely dying to be proven wrong. 

My book just didn’t look like the books that have won their Kindle Scout publishing deal.  The page of winners is full of book covers with typical floating photoshopped torsos above title text, the exact opposite of what I was going for with my book cover design – I didn’t want to look like everyone else.  A significant majority of the successful books appear to be romances, with a couple science fictions and fantasies mixed in.  I have a minimalism-artistic-type book cover, and I purposefully don’t declare my book a romance because it’s not meant to be.  Sure, there are some attempts at wooing in it, but that’s not the focus of the story.  The contrast between The Un-Life and the winning books was too much for me to feel comfortable.  In the end, though, Kindle Scout didn’t even mention my book cover in their feedback, nor anything about the marketability of the genre.  So that says to me that that probably wasn’t much of a contributing factor after all. 

And then you actually look at all the dates the books were selected for publishing.  In the past several months, only five books at most were picked in any given month, and in some, only one was.  Around 6 books on average finish their campaign every day, it seems.  So, figure maybe 180 books a month, and only maybe 5 get picked?  That’s not even a 3% win rate.  That’s a lot, a lot of failures.  I wasn’t liking my odds.

Not to mention my attempts at “scouting” myself during my Kindle Scout campaign.  I’d nominated a couple dozen books or so since I started my campaign, and only two were selected of the ones I voted for.  And a more interesting looking vampire book that probably spent more time “hot” than mine did wasn’t selected, and that made my stomach uneasy.  I’ve nominated some books that I thought would surely win because of how they always seemed to be on the hot and trending list, and then I was startled with how quickly I was notified they were not selected for publication.  I’m startled some more at how just a couple days after that I’d get notified they were put up on Amazon for cheap, as if the authors, too, were expecting to fail and had a fall back plan just like I do. 

And getting down to it, as much as I tried to make my story stand out, I wouldn’t say it’s anything special.  I don’t feel like it’s outstanding enough to compete with a high action sci fi thriller or a roller coaster ride of forbidden love stories.  There’s some action and suspense, but it’s mostly an exploration of real world social issues wrapped up in a story about the supernatural.  I don’t find my writing style unique or inspiring.  I hope that that’s just my inner artist that tells me that I should hate everything that I create and therefore everyone else should hate it too.  Damn the curse of being a creator and always being unsatisfied with your creations.  I think the fact that my novel wasn’t high on action did contribute to the rejection, as Kindle Scout offered suggestions on how to play it up and turn it into a crime thriller. 

But, you know what?  I heard a quote somewhere once that really resounded with me, and I’d tell you who said it if I remembered who did, but I don’t.  It went something like “The best part about being a pessimist is that you are either right, or pleasantly surprised.”  I love that.  The optimistic view of pessimism.  That is me in a nutshell.

In my heart, I am an optimist.  I yearn for bigger and better things and I believe that I can achieve them.  I wake up on the right side of the bed every day, ready to take on the cold, cruel world.  My mind, however, is a hard-core grounded pessimist.  It understands that there’s every chance in hell that I could fail at everything I do no matter how hard I try, and it tries to tell my heart to not be too crushed if I don’t succeed.  Between the two, I have a good understanding of how to move forward determinedly, albeit cautiously, covering all my tracks and finding out everything I can to increase my odds of making progress. 

In the face of failure, it helps to think of this whole venture as just another learning experience.  Even when the situation is unpleasant, I love learning experiences.  Whether I succeed or fail, I know I have learned something.  In fact, I’ve learned a lot of somethings.  I threw myself into the marketing and social media world deeper than I have ever gone before.  I made connections and started the beginnings of a network for myself.  I learned who you can trust and who you should be skeptical about.  I found out who my friends are. 

I even discovered a little about myself – that me, an anti-social, scared little introvert can get out there and fight for your attention.  I got over my fear of strangers and went to a gathering to meet up with fellow authors.  I met my personal deadline to get my story ready for submission.  I had the will to cut back on my spending of groceries and luxuries so I could put more money into investing in advertising and marketing.  I kept up with my own social media promotions every day and didn’t let myself get distracted.  I wanted this, more than anything else in my life, and I worked hard for it.

I was asked in a job interview once why I should be chosen over the other candidates.  My answer was “Because I want it the most.  And given the chance, I can do it as good as anyone or better.”  I didn’t get that job, but like unanswered prayers, I soon stumbled into an even better job, and I’m glad that I didn’t end up getting the first one.  I just hope that this outcome is the universe’s way of steering me in the right direction because maybe Kindle Scout wasn’t the path for The Un-Life of William Moore

It still hurt a lot that I failed, that I was right, but I know I did everything I reasonably could.  I spent years with The Un-Life perfecting it and I felt like it was ready.  But maybe there is still yet things I could do to improve it.  It’s not going to turn into a crime thriller just to satisfy The Man, but I do have a few ways I’m going to improve it before I self-publish it. 

I just have to hope that my efforts have been noticed, that my work is better than I think it is, that I trusted the right people and did the right thing.  And most of all, no matter what happens, I can’t give up.  I will move forward.  I will progress.

My dreams will not be deferred or dry up like a raisin in the sun.

-Dana Lockhart


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