January of this year I became a first-time author. Amazing right? Well, it was for a while. My book first children’s “The Sky is Falling “was a 3 years in the making project. The idea was planted in my head when my son was only 3 years old thus the actual narration took me all of ten minutes to write completely beginning to end. I did my search for an illustrator and the money asked was beyond anything I could afford. Then when I did find one they didn’t see my vision on the characters. Finally I got an illustrator who understood my vision and we worked on getting it done. 10 minutes to write 3 years to actually produce.
I was beyond excited when all was said and done because; OMG I published a book! That excitement lasted for about three months. For the first three months after my release the book sold at a steady pace. I would get reports of 3 to 5 books being sold daily. People were sending me pictures of their kids reading it. Congratulations texts were pouring in. I, well I was on top of the world.
Then Amazon and CreateSpace royalties brought me back down to the pits of depression. Selling your book on Amazon is only a great thing if you are selling 100 units a day and making Amazon best seller. I began asking people who I knew had kids, who said they would support if they got their copy. And it was always, “I keep meaning to,” and “Girl you know I will.” The second someone said something like I would send them the link to get the book.
Then I asked those who purchased to please write a review. And it was the same answer, “I will, “or “I have not had a chance.” And I soon realized I can’t count on everyone I know to get this book out there. Best sellers make the best sellers list because people they never met and will never meet bought their book. And Amazon will only feature your book when you have at the very least 25 positive reviews, which means 3 ½ to 5 stars (4 to 5 is far better of course). The bestseller list is when you sell over 100 to 200 units in a day and over 500 in one week and the added part is a 4 to 5 stars rating by readers. Best seller on Amazon is not like Best Seller on NY or Times. Amazon has a constant revolving door of books so you can be on top one week and drop the next week all depending on marketing and how much you pay to get your book out there.
“Best sellers make the best sellers list because people they never met and will never meet bought their book.”
All these things were not known by me. So the joy of actually publishing my book disappeared. I have faced some hard time before. IF you have read any of my previous blogs on Happy Soul the last 6 to 7 years have not been all roses and walks in the meadow with love hearts in my eyes. They have quite literally beaten and battered me. But I always got up. Because I’m aware how and how quickly you get up makes a difference. This time, however, it was different.
This time depression came like a tsunami without any warnings and it almost took me out. Because in my head I lost sight of my victory. I lost sight that I did one of my life goals a year earlier than I said I would. I promised myself I would not pass the age of 35 without having written and published my first book. The numbers and dollars became more important and thereby belittled my actual success and turned it into perceived failure. My looking glass was no longer clear.
So let’s talk about royalties real quick. Amazon royalties are a joke especially if you are not moving units quick and at large quantities constantly. Let me just put that out there. You are better off selling your book on your own website. If you use CreateSpace to self-publish make a store site for your book there. Even though Amazon owns Createspace the disparity in the royalties is ridiculous.
Prime example: My book was listed at $10.99 sales price. Per book sold on Amazon I get $2.94! I know WTF right vs when sold through CreateSpace store for every $10.99 I get back $5.98 still a WTF Chuck? Now let’s add in the EBook. I listed my Ebook at $5.99 and somehow I get back $6.94 on royalties.
That math right there took me all the way out. That evil little voice that I had managed to stomp on over the last six years; this time, was speaking through a megaphone and I couldn’t drown it out or get rid of it. Then I saw people who released children’s books or just books making best seller and they were using marketing tricks I used. So they not only copied what I was doing but were more successful. Social media also became a loud voice. I logged off all social media for a good four months. I didn’t post anything, didn’t like, read a thing. My mind could not handle seeing other’s success because to me I had failed monumentally.
To top it off I work for an accounting firm and I just released my book during tax season. MAJOR NO and WHAT WAS I THINKING! All the opportunities were appearing at a time I could not take off from my bill paying job. I had obligations to my place of employment during their busiest season. Now I have a nine to five eating away at my dream, a book I could hardly promote properly. The book royalties could barely fill up a tank of gas. I have my mom, my son and sister to think about. The heavy fog of depression was real and deep.
Depression isolates you even when you are around people. It isolates you in your mind. It isolates you in your heart. I was drained, physically, mentally, spiritually. I was working overtime constantly. By the time I got home I had just enough energy to check in on my son, make sure he ate, took a shower, did his homework and got to bed on time. My co-workers surprisingly enough supported my book and bought copies. My boss encouraged me to keep going. He even bought 3 copies. After a while every time, someone asked how the book was doing; I felt like an anchor had been wrapped around my hands and feet and I was sinking.
I would cry myself to sleep and beg for the negative voices to go away. It got to the point I truly researched how to die a slow painless death (There is no such thing by the way. Unless it’s old age and in your sleep from natural causes.) When I realized that the depression was very strong, in my most vulnerable state one night before bed I asked God. “Please don’t let me turn my baby into an orphan.” And for the first time, I heard clearly. “Phara, I got you.” The depression didn’t lift quickly, it wasn’t a magic pill. But it was a moment that my inner thoughts and isolation were silenced. It was the first time in months my thoughts of failure did not rule everything around me.
I will be the first one to tell you, the absolute worst thing you can say to someone suffering from depression is to “just wait on God and just pray.” Why? Because in that moment of utter despair, utter brokenness you CAN NOT HEAR GOD even if he was standing next to you in the flesh. Your mind is riddled with horrible thoughts and even images. For me the answer did not come when I cried out, it didn’t even come in my despair and heartache. It came in a moment of silence so I could hear clearly. To only tell them to pray will not do anything for them because their heart and mind are not at peace. You can pray for them, but please don’t ask them to do it for themselves. It belittles their truth in that moment and does more harm.
“The answer did not come when I cried out, it didn’t even come in my despair and heartache. It came in a moment of silence so I could hear clearly.”
My perception of success vs failure was muddy and clouded. No one knew. I did my best not to cry in front of my son. I did my best to put the smile on and take him places and go through the motions of “normal” so I wouldn’t ring any alarms. My mom would ask me every Sunday to go to church and I would decline. I did stumbled onto sermons on YouTube (from the now deceased)Dr. Myles Munroe. One of his sermons one night after work got my attention. He was talking about life struggles (I will paraphrase) how they shape you, that you know you are on the right path when what you are doing cause you pain and financial strain, when all hell seems to be after you. It cause you to fear, it cause you to have courage. That Satan only wants to wipe out those that have a destiny and know it. He said God needs you. The one he made with a specific gift and calling will bring it all to pass.
A couple of weeks later I started listening to Kevin Heart’s audio-book, “I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons.” Kevin expressed his many failures before becoming the super star he is today. He too had moments of perceived failure until he changed how he saw the situations and how in the end it served his private success long before it served his public success. I did my pivot in my thinking. I no longer looked at the numbers. I focused on the actual success of reaching a life goal. I am now a published author. It’s on my own, it’s not with a big publishing company but it’s a life goal reached.
When all the noise, all the negative thoughts and feelings deteriorate your accomplishments; you have to do a pivot in your thinking. That’s what I’ve done. I now practice introducing myself as an author. I am now owning my success of doing a life goal that many will never actually do. I allowed my perceived failure to rob me of the joy of actually obtaining and completing this monumental life goal. I even googled the title of the book and my name just to say to myself: “Yeah, you did that.” I became my biggest fan and cheerleader. I learned you are living life successfully every day that you made it through another day, every day a life goal is obtained no matter how big or small. No matter the public recognition, you have to be centered in your own self to recognize your personal best as success.
Perceived public failure happens only when you deem it so. As long as you believe in what you have accomplished and you are happy with the outward outcome the rest really doesn’t matter. God reminded me what I said to myself when I first thought about writing my book. “God even if I only sell 10 copies, I’ll be okay with that because I completed a life dream of mine.” I lost sight of that joy for a while. I now carry a copy of my book with me always as a reminder;“Yeah , you did that. Go ahead girl!”
On my Instagram page I post Bed Time Thoughts. I went back on my phone and read a few. I needed to be my own cheerleader and remember the words I shared with others to now uplift myself. Below are a few of them, keep them, use them. Remember your success is all in how you view yourself.
I love you for reading and thank you for sharing.
See my Bedtime Thoughts on IG @phara_Jo
Buy your copy of my VERY First Children’s book The Sky is Falling Here
Also Available for digital on Amazon Here
*If you are anyone you know is suffering from depression please help them get help. Preaching to them is not the answer. Here is the link where you can find helpful tips and get you or your loved one the encouragement and help they need. My faith in God brought me through but also knowing the signs helped me know what was truly going on with me.