Self-Publishing Authors: Did You Fail? Awesome!

by | Dec 10, 2014

By Frances Caballo

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.
—Truman Capote

Who likes to fail?

No one, right?

I don’t even like the synonyms for failure: tanked, bust, crashed, burned.

They make it sound as though you can’t redeem yourself. As though along with failing, that failure itself signifies a finality to your endeavor.

The opposite is true. Failure always brings us to new beginnings.

That “new beginning” stuff sounds like a platitude and when we’re depressed about our defeat.

But it’s more than a platitude. It’s the truth.

I was fired once over a philosophical belief. It’s a long story (it always is). The short story is that I held a certain belief that my board of directors didn’t endorse.

Suddenly, I was without a job.

I went through the usual turmoil of anger and resentment. To friends I said, “How could they?” “You won’t believe what they said!” “They can’t be serious.”

Well, they were serious.

So I painted some rooms and thought about my future. During those months, I decided to launch my own business and here I am today.

I’m happier now than if I had continued in that job. And that’s the truth too.

How to Rise from Failure

So how does this blog post apply to you? Good question. Failure comes in different shades and degrees and applies to different layers of life.

Failure as an Author

Do you ever feel as though you’re failing as an author? Take these steps:

  1. Sign up for a writer’s conference.
  2. Hire the best developmental editor you can afford.
  3. Take workshops to help you develop your craft.
  4. If you write nonfiction, hire a book coach.
  5. Sign up for webinars and teleseminars on craft.
  6. Write another book.
  7. Try a different genre.
  8. Write some poetry.
  9. Read great authors, you know, the masters: Faulkner, Woolf, Hemingway, Chekov.

Failure as a Marketer

Let’s face it; if you’re an Indie writer, you’re also a marketer. If you want your books to sell, you’ve got to put some energy into building your platform.

Authors new to marketing worry about mistakes. Here’s the truth: we’ve all made them, and they can all be corrected or at least ameliorated.

  1. Did you select the wrong Twitter handle? That’s easily taken care of. Just log into your twitter account and change it. Then remember to change it everywhere else, such as your blog, website, email signature, business cards, etc.
  2. Would you like to start over with your Facebook page? Unless you have a thousand or more page Likes, delete it and start over.
  3. Is your book priced too high? Log into CreateSpace, KDP or IngramSpark and lower the price.
  4. Did you send a tweet you wished you hadn’t? Follow these directions:
    1. Visit your Profile page.
    2. Locate the Tweet you want to delete.
    3. Click the More or ellipsis icon ( ••• ).
    4. Click Delete Tweet.
  5. You can remove items from your Facebook Timeline, but that won’t negate the fact that they’re already in your fans’ and friends’ news feeds. To get rid of status updates from your Timeline:
    1. Hover over the post on your Page’s Timeline.
    2. Click the arrow in the top-right corner of your post.
    3. Select Hide from Page or Delete Photo, which will delete the entire post and image.
  6. Do you want to start all over with Twitter? Cancel your current account and start anew.
  7. Are you beating yourself up because you didn’t send a press release when you launched your book? Write one and send it today.
  8. Do you wish you had chosen a different domain name or chosen another WordPress theme? Hire a web developer, select a new theme, buy a new domain and transfer the content.
  9. Have you been promoting your books too frequently on social media? Stop. Adopt the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time post quotes, images and content from other writers and 20 percent of the time promote your stuff.
  10. Do you hate your profile image? Ask a friend to spend some time with you taking new shots, and then use to edit the image.
  11. Join a LinkedIn or Facebook group or a Google+ Community to learn more and develop your marketing skills.

How to Avoid Social Media Gaffes

There’s only one way to prevent a serious gaffe on social media. Self-reflect before you self-reveal. Ask yourself if what you’re about to post would be something you wouldn’t want your employer, rabbi or pastor to see.

If you make other errors, they can almost always be corrected to some degree.

Just try not to worry about errors. Venture out onto the social web, create some profiles, read blogs and try to improve your skills over time.

Remember, others will be far more forgiving of the errors you make than you will. So cut yourself some slack, experiment with your content, and have fun.

social mediaFrances Caballo is a Contributing Writer for The Book Designer. She is also an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. Click here to receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers.

You can learn more about Frances and how to connect with her here.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Allan Poshel

    Hi there) Since childhood I have believed in God, go to church and even keep fasts. But there is one problem that faith can not solve. No matter how anyone says, but God can not help you with your problems, but specialized sites can find more here. Here I have seen a lot of specialized and professional help that can offer me. They explained to me here what I could not understand on my own in religion.

  2. Eduardo Suastegui

    I didn’t realize it was that simple to change one’s Twitter handle. Now to come up with one that actually improves things…

  3. Danielle

    France’s, will you share with us the reasoning behind deleting your FB page and starting over if you don’t have 1,000 likes?

    • Frances Caballo

      Yes, it’s easy to change your Twitter username. When you are creating a new one, remember to keep it short — and don’t exceed 12 characters.

    • Frances Caballo

      Danielle: I’m not recommending that you delete your Facebook page. I’m saying that if you’re unhappy with the page, get rid of it.

  4. Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva

    I love the fact that you mention the 80/20 rule. I think right now, I’m using the 60/40 rule…lol….I need to make some adjustments. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. J.Q. Rose

    We have to remember to learn from our mistakes. Good advice I received from my piano teacher when I played in the cracks of the piano! Thanks. Sharing this!!

    • Frances Caballo

      JQ: You are welcome! This was a fun post to write.

  6. Frances Caballo

    Steve: Yes, we can reinvent ourselves and continue to learn new skills that will carry us around the bend on our journey through life,

  7. Jennifer Lewis Williams

    Thank you Frances for this very useful article. I fail miserably as a marketer, but I’m actually not failing as a writer. I do attend writer’s conferences and webinars, and after completing 7 crime fiction novels (only published 2 of them so far), I’m “attempting” to write a paranormal fiction novel. I find the marketing part very difficult, and your article helps me to focus on what I can and should change to be more successful.

    • Frances Caballo

      Jennifer: Thanks for your comment. I’m a big believer in not stressing too much over errors and moving on whenever possible.

  8. Susan Mary Malone

    Great advice, Frances! Learning to write well is a difficult endeavor :) It takes time, and the doing of it. As I often begin with when speaking at writer’s conferences: “Writing well really IS rocket science.”
    The biggest issue I see is folks who quit too quickly.
    Great reminders here!

  9. Joe Bunting

    Good post, Frances. I’m sure those directors soon regretted their decision!

    I feel like I’m failing most of the time as a writer. I think most of us do. But when I think back to when I was just getting started, freelancing at that small paper writing articles for $10 a pop, I’m grateful for where all my failures have led me. We are all doing something incredibly difficult. There’s no choice but to keep failing our way along.

    • Frances Caballo

      Joe: Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Although not very eloquent, this simple truth applies to so many aspects of our lives, including our writing. And what you say is so true. As writers we want to be artists with our words. We want to follow in the footsteps of Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Pablo Neruda and other master writers. It’s not an easy task and not everyone attains that level of artistry yet we try, we write every day, and hopefully we enjoy the writing itself.

  10. Jason Matthews

    Great stuff, Frances. Reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about lately–how we always attempt to learn from our mistakes and continue to make new ones. Eventually the question gets asked, “why can’t I get it right the first time and still learn the lesson?” For whatever it’s worth, I’m making an effort to reward myself for learning a lesson whenever I believe something got done correctly the first time. Will keep you informed on the results.

    • Frances Caballo

      Matthew: Love your idea of rewarding yourself for lessons learned. We should all try that — well, at least I should. I’m so glad this post resonated with you. I’d been wanting to write it for quite some time and finally took the chance that others would find it useful. I’m heartened by everyone’s response here and on Twitter and LinkedIn. We all fail on our way to the next success and I’ve finally learned that it’s nothing to be ashamed about.

  11. Cat Michaels

    YES! Turning lemons into … well, you know. Love it. Shared it. Many thanks -:D

    • Frances Caballo

      Cat: You’re welcome! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  12. Steve Vernon

    Awesome article!

    Re-invention is a wonderful thing. You don’t need any blueprints. You do not need any technical wizardry. All that you need is the courage to untie whatever you have used to tie yourself to your present reality, and the blind and inspiring gumption to jump free and evolve.

    Life is a hop-scotch game.

    Don’t just stand there – jump!

    • Frances Caballo

      Vernon:Love the analogy of life to a hopscotch game. Yes, sometimes we can jump to the next box and sometimes we fall. But can always get up, try again, or switch to a different game.



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