Using Self-Doubt to Succeed
Updated: Dec 22, 2020
It's been an interesting few weeks for me. I hesitated in writing this because it's personal, but I think many of you can relate and I think self doubt is important to address. Yes, I am a coach. But, I am still human! Self doubt lives in us all. The trick is, how do you address it? I know it sounds insane, but self doubt is actually an amazing tool that can help us achieve more in the end.
As many of you know, I wrote a kid's book. I am very proud of it! I worked hard and hired an amazing editor/publishing coach and spent a lot of hours collaborating with an illustrator. I used my personal journey to help other parents/children of divorce find their own healing. I thought the hard part of this experience was putting my thoughts on the page. No. The hard part is selling it.
Since it is my story, I am putting myself out there for approval or rejection. And because I self-published this book, rejection is a common response from traditional outlets. Bookstores, book critics, book reviewers, professional children's literature journals - none of them want to even read it. For as many "lay people" as I have found who love it and are excited about the story and how it might help their children, I have found the same number of "experts" who won't even touch it because I chose the self-published route. This rejection caused me a few days of dark fog. Like a lot of people, I don't like rejection!
During this time, I read an article by an admired children's book reviewer who explained at length why she and most reviewers generally will not go near self-published books. The article brought up all my doubts about the choice to self-publish this book, and a lot of familiar insecurities about myself in general. I was annoyed with myself for not wanting to wait for the traditional publishing route, for not agreeing with the normal view that it is acceptable that a publisher should take more money from my work because they are "experts," for not listening to the world when it told me that "this is the way things are done." Annoyance led to shame/fear/anger and I felt angry/sad/frustrated/dumb/everything else terrible.
During this time, I received a lot of support. So many friends, family members, and peers stepped up to make me feel better. But I couldn't accept it. I heard myself respond negatively with a lot of "yeah but" when people gave me pep talks or shared how much they love my book or how proud they are of me for writing it. All that "yeah butt-ing" made me feel gross and worse. I knew it was me, I knew I was keeping myself there. But how to get out of the dark spiral?
Finally, a few days in I paused and sat with myself. I reflected on what it took to write my book and how it felt to finish. I reminded myself of why I am proud of this story, and how much I believe in it and how much I believe in myself. And I reexamined the article that sent me spiraling into this little funk. In rereading it from a place of strength, I realized that nowhere did it say she and her cronies NEVER accept self-published work. No. Instead she actually outlined the reasons why a book is not accepted by most of her peers, step by step. Oh my gosh! Brilliant! She was giving me the tools to get my book to her!
I went through the checklist of why she does not accept most self-published works one by one and compared each step to my book and my process. I wrote down exactly how she expected to be contacted. And I reached out. Guess what? She hasn't responded. Ha! Take that!
BUT, two other reviewers who I was able to approach in a more professional manner due to what I had learned from the article DID response. Two real life, respected book reviewers wanted to read and possibly review my book. Hallelujah! Now, they may decide it sucks and not review it. And the original reviewer may never even respond. That's ok, I will deal with that. But I proved to myself that I could get through the door and that's what matters.
In the process of reflecting and revising my perspective, I also took the time to think about the sales channels I was trying to use. I had decided not to publish my book in the traditional manner. So, why was I so dead set on selling it through traditional channels? I stopped and remembered who this book is for - parents and children of separation/divorce. I reminded myself why it is important to this niche; it helps parents meet the needs of their children even if they are not emotionally ready, and it helps children make sense of a situation that could be frightening/confusing/upsetting if they aren't able to talk about it clearly with their safety net (their parents). So, why are book reviewers the people I so desperately needed to please? THEY AREN'T. This book isn't for them. This book is for those parents, those kids. These people are my "experts." I am my expert! So I took it to divorce lawyers, teachers, parent coaches, family counselors, and the like. And guess what? Reviews, compliments, shares, and even some sales.
So, this is end of my lengthy tale. The moral of the story? Roadblocks aren't there to force you to give up on your dreams or goals. Instead, they are there to guide you towards a better, clearer road. When something stops you in your tracks and sends you spiraling, feel all the feels that this seeming setback brings up. But only for a little bit. After that, dig in. Recommit. Reexamine. Reroute. And get back on your way!