Success in publishing rests on acting instead of reacting

I received a couple of “rejections” the other day.  As a professional writer with over 20 years experience, I’ve had more than my share of rejections.  In this case one was from Amazon regarding publishing with their Encore program and something else.  The other was for a book we’ve already published but I was looking to see if a major publisher would pick it up considering the success I’ve had the last two years.

My reaction, as is normal for most when they get a “rejection”, was negative.  But as I teach in Write It Forward I didn’t respond.  I sat on it, thought about it and talked it out with my wife and business partner.

Then, the following morning, I had a moment of enlightenment, while working out in the fitness center in the hotel in Melbourne where I was presenting at the Australian RWA Conference.

Re-reading Amazon’s response, I realized they weren’t rejecting me. They were complimenting me.  They basically were saying the royalty cuts and exclusivity they wanted in exchange for their Encore program were for a long list of things they would do for me; except we’re already doing all those things at Who Dares Publishing.  So it made no sense and they understood that.

Jen Talty and I formed the company in November 2009, not long after Amazon had launched their Encore program (and most people hadn’t even heard of it—I hadn’t) and long before there was a Thomas and Mercer.  Even before Borders went down the drain.  Before eBooks took the publishing world by storm.  When people were laughing at eBooks at the January 2010 Digital Book World Conference, saying “Why should we worry about something that’s only 3% of our income?”

I formed it because my experience as a Green Beret A-Team taught me that a small, highly efficient team can do things which larger, more cumbersome, and less efficient organizations couldn’t.  An A-Team is a force multiplier, which can have an effect far beyond the scope of most teams.  It’s the most formidable military organization in the world.

Jen worked full time for all of  2010 and neither of us were able to take even a single dollar out of the business. We had to put every hard-earned dime right back into it.  In essence, working for nothing.  Very few people would have worked as hard as Jen did for as long as she did, with little reward and no guarantee it would work.

The first author we brought on board besides my books was Kristen Lamb with We Are Not Alone: The Writers’ Guide to Social Media.  I think that’s telling.  We knew back then that the key to success in the electronic world was promoting via social media, and it’s the first thing we published.  And we incorporated the things she espouses in the book; the primary one is have your content first, before you start blasting things out on social media. The fact Jen and I were able to evolve into the Write It Forward blog we now have here and the new Write It Forward book that was just published last week is a key part of our success.

Slowly, we brought other authors on board. Amy Shojai, a well known multi-published pet expert and speaker. Natalie C. Markey, expert in special needs dogs and also teaches Writing Mom’s. Victoria Martinez, an expert in unique and unusual tidbits of Royal History. Marius Gabriel, best-selling author of Romantic Thrillers.  What we were looking for, besides great content, were authors who were willing to promote, to be part of a team.

We also had some authors shy away, not willing to take a chance with us.  Some ran back to their traditional publishers and signed deals with very low e-royalty rates, but they were going for the known, rather than be willing to take a chance.  I’ve seen none of those author’s books doing much of anything on Kindle or PubIt, so I’m not sure how that worked out for them.  In fact, I haven’t seen any of the backlist titles we’d already have available for sale even published yet in eBook.  I imagine those titles are sitting somewhere in that publisher’s queue waiting for it’s chance.  Meanwhile, they are earning nothing.

In the space of 24 hours I went from feeling bummed over a rejection to feeling very excited with the realization that we did it right at Who Dares Wins Publishing and we’re continuing to do it right.  That a rejection is actually a blessing, that frees me once more to focus on taking Who Dares Wins to the next level.  The key is that we can move to the next level because we’re not reacting to try to achieve what others are scrambling to do right now, because we already did all those things that publishers and authors are trying to comprehend.  We’re moving into the future because we’re acting, not reacting.

Write It Forward!

About Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret (including commanding an A-Team) and the feeder of two Yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He's had over 60 books published including the #1 series Area 51, Atlantis and The Green Berets. Born in the Bronx, having traveled the world (usually not tourist spots), he now lives peacefully with his wife, and said labs, at Write on the River, TN.

Posted on August 19, 2011, in Publishing Options, WDWPUB, Write It forward and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Jenni Holbrook-Talty

    Learning how to NOT react is difficult. I find myself having to step away from things and really look at my initial impulse. I’ve learned that anytime I’m angry, hurt, upset or generally dismayed by something, I need to allow the emotions to settle and then look at things from a different perspective. Not an easy task to do.

    I worked hard because I believed in what started. And this is just the beginning.

  2. Glad you took a second look at the letter from Amazon. I made the mistake decades ago, when I first started writing screenplays and took to heart a rejection I got from a film studio. I focused on them saying no, rather than the paragraph where they said it was a good screenplay, well-written but not for them. I proceeded to beat myself up and re-work that sucker. It took me quite awhile to learn how to view rejections. I now see them as one opinion, sometimes valid, sometimes not, and sometimes in-between.

    Kudos on signing up Kristin Lamb. I bought her book Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer. i think she’s terrific!

  3. I love being part of the team at Who Dares Wins Publishing. It is helpful to have people well-seasoned in this industry to talk to before reacting. I loved Bob’s book ‘Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author’ (formerly titled ‘Warrior Writer.’) It taught me so much about this crazy and changing industry and has helped me on the path that I am today.

    Thanks for the post Bob!


  4. Way to go, Bob! Always setting a fine example for us.

  5. Both the WDW and Amazon teams deserve kudos. WDW for recognizing the future before it happened, and Amazon for realizing they couldn’t do it better. This doesn’t happen too often in the business world.

  6. I think the name of the company Who Dare Wins Publishing says a lot. When I first saw the same it instantly gave me an overall picture of what it was all about. I didn’t NEED to read the about page, but I did because it sparked my curiosity. Your company has a clear motive/mission and I can only see it moving forward. Congratulations for all the hard unpaid work you and Jen put it because it really paid off!

  7. Elisa Michelle

    It’s interesting. I’m nowhere near ready to publish, but I can see the advantages of acting rationally and logically instead of reacting impulsively. Of course, being really inexperienced, I react a lot. Rejection is hard, especially so early in my writing life. Your blog and this post give me inspiration to remember to act, not react. I wish your publishing business well. It sounds great already.

  8. Thank you for the reminder to wait, think about it and talk it out with someone you trust. Most things work out best when I do that. I found you through Kristen Lamb’s blog. I read her We Are Not Alone, and have just started Are You There Blog? I’m new enough still that when I get a rejection I feel okay because it makes me feel like I’m actually in the game- but I figure that will wear off. I’ll remember your words.

  9. I’m sure you did! You saw the opportunity and took it. Congratulations for the job well done. :-)

  10. Well, Bob I am pleased you finally came to that realisation. After I read your Write It Forward, a couple of weeks ago it was blindingly obvious to me that you are building a micro-publishing house, rather than self-publishing. In fact you seem to be specialising in Guys with Gear Who Go series for the fiction side and therefore are more in the position to make a certain promise to the reader much as my publisher makes to readers of romance. There used to be series dedicated to male readers in the early days of pulp fiction but they died out. There is a long tradition in small publishing houses. You are just going about it in an unique fashion.
    With the nonfiction. you just need to learn to hyperlink the table of contents in kindle so it is easier to jump around. That is the one aspect of Write It Forward that I found frustrating. Particularly as there were points that I wanted to go back and read. A hyperlinked table of contents allows you to use the smaller arrows to jump about.

  11. I once get a rejection letter and felt bummed about then went back and read it and realized that they liked what I wrote. They were asking for a full. Wait, reflect, read again.

  12. After waiting 2 years and 2 editors at one house just to end up rejected – I said no more. Hope to have to of my books out by November. Congrats on your success!

  13. I think the thing about reacting vs acting is to let things that you’d “react” to just roll off your back. Rejections, bad reviews, etc. are so easy to get wrapped up in. Especially these days when everything is so immediate, including whining to your BFF about a particularly nasty review.

    I’ve never been one to get too bruised by a bad review, but occasionally they’ve knocked the wind out of my sails for a day or so. But I’m more interested in what I can do to fix the problem and move forward. I guess I’m stubborn…or tenacious. One of the two. Maybe both.

    But forward momentum, to me, helps erase the bad stuff. Writing another book gives me the chance to blot out past issues.

  1. Pingback: Success in publishing rests on acting instead of reacting | Bob … - Ad Tool, Information, Keywords -

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 219,488 other followers

%d bloggers like this: