If you read the New York Times Book Review on Sunday, then you shared in a very special moment with me. My novel, BLIND FAITH, debuted on the NYT bestseller list at #2, something unheard of for an indy published e-book.
Yet, by many standards I’m a failure.
Although I’ve been a writer my entire life, I didn’t sell a book until I was 40.
Although that first book was a hardcover, pre-empt deal, and earned cover quotes from a dozen NYT Bestsellers, including Sandra Brown, it was pulled 90 days prior to publication because of cover art issues.
That’s right, my dream debut was never published.
After 17 years of practicing medicine, I’d left to write full time, and suddenly had no book, no contract, no career, leaving me unemployed for the first time since I was 15.
My agent for that first book left me high and dry. I had to scrape up the money to buy the rights back to my own book even though the reason it died such a lonely death had nothing to do with me.
I got a new contract from a new NYC publisher and the first book was a bestseller. But the second in the series, a year later, had a drastically cut print run, a major book chain’s computer “lost” it in their system, and the print runs for each subsequent book were slashed as determined by more computers that couldn’t imagine growing an author–it just wasn’t part of their paradigm.
Looking at this sequence of events, you’d never guess during the five years they took place I was actually making a living solely from my writing. The definition of success for any writer.
Or that I’m now busier than ever writing books my fans are clamoring for.
Or that I hit the USA TODAY list and sold over 125,000 copies of ONE title in one month.
OR that I finally achieved every writer’s dream: making it onto the New York Times‘ Bestseller list. Hitting the combined print and e-book list at #2
No, if you only looked at that list of failures you’d think this is the timeline of an author who has no readers, no contracts, no chance of making it in publishing.
Why do I see success when any sane person would see failure?
Because each of those time points represents a leap of faith. A time when I chose the risky path, when I dared to fail.
That doomed first book got the attention of my second publisher. And while fighting to get my rights back to it, I wrote the book that made me a NYT Bestseller. Plus, I’ve gone on to publish that first book and its sequel myself and have already earned back double the money I was originally offered.
That doomed series, sliced and diced by computer generated print run decisions, earned me a group of rabid fans, several awards, critical acclaim, and caught the attention of a celebrity, one of my personal heroes, who I co-authored two new books with.
Working with that celebrity gave me new insights into my writing, gained me national media attention, and gave me the financial security to give my indy publishing venture time to take off. Leading directly, six months later, to a banner month where I hit the New York Times list at #2, made the top five on the USA TODAY list, sold 150,000 books, and earned more in one month than traditional publishing had paid me the previous year.
So you tell me…are you daring to fail enough? Playing it safe got me nowhere…where’s it taking you?