In my commands when I was in the Army—Infantry platoon, recon platoon, Green Beret A-Team, company command, etc—I found that admitting a mistake was always a good leadership trait. After all, the soldiers always knew when you made one. Admitting it is also the first step in making sure you don’t make it again and in building morale and ultimately, in succeeding.
A year ago I started noticing JA Konrath being mentioned a lot and read his blog. I didn’t agree with a lot of what he was saying and even posted a couple of times indicating that.
What does a year later mean? Bringing 20 of my backlist into ebook and print. Releasing my first original title, Chasing the Ghost, on my own and watching it climb the Kindle lists. And building up to the major release of Duty, Honor, Country—a novel of West Point and the Civil War on 12 April to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the start of the war next week on Tuesday. This is something I could’ve never achieved with traditional publishing for an epic book I’ve spent the last two years writing. (I just saw a deal on PW Daily for publication in 2014. I mean, let’s be real. This is the digital age).
How was I wrong and Konrath right? He was pointing out the flaws in traditional publishing with regard to eBooks and how the midlist was going to get hammered. How authors could do it on their own. I had 20 years invested in traditional publishing. Over 40 titles. I’ve got a major co-written mass-market paperback coming out in May from St. Martins. Of course I was going to protect my turf. But over the past year, as I saw more and more people dig in and protect their turf, regardless of reality, be unwilling to change, to take chances, I had to start applying what I teach in Warrior Writer to myself. I had to question what I was doing and what I was planning to do.
Recently, both Konrath and Amanda Hocking have blogged very realistically about self-publishing and the odds of success. Frankly, succeeding at self-publishing, after experiencing both, has as much chance as succeeding at traditional publishing. First, you must have a great product, a great book. And then there are many things you have to do that all add up to extremely hard work and which I will go into detail on in a later post. The huge, huge difference with self-publishing, is that I rely on me and my team.
My friend, Elizabeth George, a rather successful traditional author, when asked, will you tell you the #1 trait for success as an author is being ruthless. She doesn’t mean with other people. She means with herself. Getting up at 5 am every morning to write. Working hard. Not slacking off. Doing the work required. I’ve accepted that finally in my writing career. We were ruthless in Special Forces. Our training was often more dangerous than our real missions. Posting this blog is a form of being ruthless with myself, because most of us don’t want to admit we were wrong. Especially not publicly. But once it’s admitted, we can move on. We’ve gotten the monkey off our back and can focus on being positive.
BTW, I’ll be posting on Konrath’s blog next week on Tuesday as part of the launch of Duty, Honor, Country.