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In any industry, be it publishing or anything else, a lot of people believe in the idea that if you act like you’re successful, you will be… eventually. Essentially, it’s similar to the belief that you should only toss positive energy into the Universe so that the Universe gives you only positive things back. I used to think this was a lot of horse shit. I mean, hard work and skill are the keys to success, aren’t they?
Yes, they are, but I’ve learned this faking it thing can also play a role in future success, as long as you don’t interpret it literally. The meaning, to me, behind the idea is that if you believe in yourself, then you exude confidence, which inspires trust in your abilities. Others (once you’ve proven you’ve got what it takes) start to believe in you too, and this is when opportunity knocks. As long as you’re open to said opportunity, you’ll be successful. The positive attitude also helps deal with setbacks, like rejections, shitty sales or negative reviews. If you’re constantly looking at the glass as half-full, then it’s not so hard to let go of the negative stuff.
In publishing, it’s tough to determine whether you’re successful or not, because success means different things to every writer. For example, some feel once they can quit the day job and fully support themselves with what they write, then they’re successful. Others feel if they’ve published a book, that’s success. Some want name recognition, and others base success on reviews. It’s all different and none of it is wrong. Sometimes, I think it’s wise to measure success in increments, with a bigger long-term goal tucked in your pocket, so only you know it’s there. Let’s say you want writing to be your only source of income. Okay, that’s a long-term thing. What do you need to do to get there? Figure it out and celebrate every step you take along the way. Easy, right?
But what about this faking it thing? How does that factor in if we all view success in different ways?
Let’s look at what it doesn’t mean:
Faking it doesn’t mean you go out and buy yourself fake reviews. This is bad and skeevy and dishonest crap like this always comes out. Don’t do it.
Faking it doesn’t mean you lie and say you’ve gotten a big contract or boast about sales that haven’t happened. I mean, everyone sees through that. The truth will reveal itself and you’ll look like a pathetic and dishonest hack. Definitely not the way to achieve success.
Faking it doesn’t mean you pretend like you’re the shit, either. By “you’re the shit” I mean don’t act like you’re better than your peers. That’ll bite you in the ass. We rely on each other to succeed, so alienating other writers is kind of stupid.
So, what does faking it mean?
In short, faking it until you make it in publishing means you don’t let failure knock you down for long. You dust yourself off and (even if it’s hard) look at the positive in every situation, as I said earlier. Don’t let anything negative stay in your head for long, and definitely don’t spread the negativity around. Now, it’s not easy to be positive, but there are a few tricks I use to keep my head in the right place. You might find them useful too.
Brag a little. Bragging isn’t egotistical as long as you’re not making shit up or being a dick about it. Celebrate the big and small things and let others celebrate with you, so you can keep your head in a positive space. Try not to make it all about you, though. Brag about your friends' successes a little too. Don’t view other writers as competition. That'll take you down a dark path where you'll end up miserable. Be happy when anything good happens, even if it’s happening to someone else.
Be confident. If you don’t believe in you, no one else will. On the other hand…
Know and accept when you’re wrong. When things aren’t working out, don’t look for something or someone to blame. Instead, take a step back, evaluate what’s happened, and then change what you’ve been doing. Whether it’s how you’re writing, querying or marketing, if you’re not seeing at least small successes, it’s time to figure out where you’ve gone wrong and correct it. Failure is an important part of success. You need it to learn and grow. Embrace it and keep moving forward.
Don’t bitch on social media about how this is so hard and you’re ready to give up. The more you whine, the more people are going to view you as a failure, because that's what you're putting out there for them to see, and they might decide you’re not worth their time. That would be a shame, because you deserve a chance to prove yourself. Instead of complaining, look at each failure is an opportunity to learn and improve. Pitch your tantrums in private.
Remember, readers see your social media activities. The good, bad and the ugly. If you’re moaning about publishers, being nasty to someone, or just being an overall negative Nancy, they see it and they’re turned off. You can acknowledge setbacks, that’s fine, but don’t throw a pity party and invite all of Cyberspace to join you. We've got better things to do.
Instead, let people know you got a great review yesterday, or you subbed to a market you’re really excited about. Sure, you got a rejection, but you’re already subbing somewhere new. Save the negativity for private conversations and don’t let it consume you. Readers see a confident, but not arrogant, person who is passionate about what he/she does, and they’ll be drawn to that. I wish I could say publishers will be drawn as well, but I can’t. For them, you have to write the best story you can and hope for the best result.
If your best isn’t good enough, you still haven’t failed. Work harder, learn more, improve, and try again. That's the only sure way to “make it” in anything.