ConfessionI have a confession to make.  You know how on social media, blogs and writers’ blogs in particular we’re often told that a success for one indie author is a success for us all?  Well sometimes I find it really hard.

I find it hard to swallow that while my novel is languishing at the bottom of the Amazon rankings (well it feels like it anyway!), Mr or Ms Successful Indie Author has sold millions of copies of their novel and is doing very nicely thank you.

As a Christian, I know I need to take a step back from myself and not ‘covet my neighbour’s success in writing’!  And I’m trying, really I am. But sometimes it’s a bitter pill to swallow when I read about so and so’s book doing fabulously while mine… well, isn’t.

See the thing is, like most if not all indie authors, I’ve put the hours in; I’ve worked hard to write and then publish a novel, done a blog tour, updated my blog regularly, tweeted, posted on Facebook etc etc.

I do realise it doesn’t necessarily work that way – I may have worked hard but perhaps my book just isn’t quite what people were interested in reading.  But I feel I’m not quite at the point where I can truly be glad for others’ success.  I’m trying hard but I’m not quite there yet.

I guess it’s a lot like life in general – for most of us there’s always gonna be people who’re more successful than us, have a better job, bigger house, more expensive car etc.

I find it helps me to remember what the Bible teaches – that ultimately these things don’t matter.  What’s important is not how successful we are materially but how we live our lives.

When I consider this life and all the things (i.e. possessions) we hold dear, I often think of the ancient Egyptians and the way they painstakingly filled the tombs of their Pharaohs with their most treasured possessions, much of it still priceless today, in order that the Pharaoh would take it with him to the afterlife.

Because ultimately it’s the same with us: the success we have materially in this life and all our possessions aren’t going to go with us when we die.  So what’s the use wasting precious time getting hung up on so and so succeeding more at something than me?

I hope that someday soon I’ll be able to read about a fellow author’s success without feeling a pang of envy, and be truly glad for them.

Am I the only one who struggles to be gracious when faced with others’ success being greater than mine?

34 thoughts on “Confession

  1. I understand that feeling, and I’m not even published yet. It seems like so much of people’s success is based on luck– not that we can’t affect the outcome by doing the work you mentioned, but it really is hard not to look at successful authors and feel envious. I remind myself that all we can do is write the next book… that’s going to be my strategy, anyway. 🙂


  2. Oh Elaine, don’t be sad. It takes loads of work for most people to sell their books. Why not try a little role reversal. How would you be feeling if you were that successful author? what would you be doing to remain that successful author, where would you be seen on the social network? Lift your spirits with a little pretence and imagination and see if any new ideas form. Meanwhile get reading all sorts books from the authors you see as successful and pull apart their books for ideas, plots and language that works to make your own winning book. And banish envy it has no worth. Smile my friend, you have a lovely smile.


    1. Ah thank you so much for such a lovely comment Rosie. It’s made my day. 🙂 And you’re absolutely right – I must banish envy; it has no place.

      I think you’ve given me a top tip there by suggesting the role reversal, especially about pulling apart other authors’ books for inspiration. I do read all sorts of books – I will definitely keep that up!

      Glad you like my smile BTW! 😉


  3. Elaine, what a touching and honest post – and I think that pretty much every indie author has felt the same at some point! It doesn’t help that book sales tend to dip over the summer season. Just remember, being an indie author is a long-term game – it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s no ticking time-bomb, as there would be if you were trade-published, that means if you’re not a bestseller in less than a year your book will be out of print. Keep smiling, be proud of what you’ve achieved – you’ve written one novel more than most people will ever manage to write! And cheer yourself up by getting on with writing the next one. Forget sales stats – you’re a writer, and that’s what matters!


    1. Glad you appreciated my post Debbie. 🙂 And I’m sure you’re right about every author being in my place at some time. I think it’s very true what you say about this indie publishing adventure we’re on being a long-term game. I think it’s also the case that with epublishing, once a book’s out there, it’s out there for good, whereas with trad published books, it can be off the shelves pretty quickly if it doesn’t sell.

      Thank you for such a lovely comment. 🙂


  4. Hi Elaine..whatever you are feeling and going through is perfectly normal and something Ive felt too.This post was very relatable….I feel this is just a stepping stone for you, perhaps a journey to discovering something new..maybe you may have to step outside your comfort zone to find out what the other writer did differently to have been successful but take that step…Thank you for sharing and Im sure things will turn around for you..Lets awaken the resilient warrior inside you!


    1. Hi there Nishi. Glad you could relate to this post – I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, but sometimes I feel like I am! I think you’re right about this being a stepping stone for me. As my husband keeps reminding me, I wasn’t initially going to publish my debut novel at all. It was an experiment and my husband was the one who really encouraged me to publish it, to get some of my work out there for people to read.

      And actually, despite my angst over it, I’m glad I did publish it. It’s been an exciting time, even though the sales haven’t been marvellous. I did have a very successful free download – nearly 9500, so I was pleased with that. Unfortunately that didn’t translate into sales as I was hoping. Oh well, onwards and upwards! Thanks for your comment, it’s encouraging.


  5. I totally get this already, and I’m not even published yet, either, but the number of times my brain has gone into worst-case-scenario mode with regard to my own novel when I read about these people who have had such amazing success.


    1. So glad to know I’m not the only one Emily. In terms of sales, it’s a game of waiting and seeing really. The trouble with me is I’m rather impatient, I want to see results immediately. But these things take time. As my husband’s always reminding me, the more books I have published, the more success I’m likely to have. 🙂


  6. Elaine,

    I used to write notebooks full of stories that I tucked into a cupboard and did nothing with. I didn’t even show most of them to anyone.

    I haven’t published anything novel-length yet, but it’s likely the first will be fan fiction I offer freely.

    For me, the accomplishment will be offering them. It’s a huge step. I think I need a few more to get to a place where I’ll feel any envy.

    When I occasionally feel pangs of that less than charitable feeling in other areas, though, I try to stop and think of where I was a few years ago. It helps to measure myself only against, well, myself.

    I hope the yucky feeling passes quickly!


    1. I hope the yucky feeling passes quickly too!! lol I think writing is such a personal thing as well. Those of us who choose to publish – well it’s a bit like we’re baring our soul to the world. We’re putting stuff out there that we’ve put our heart and soul into, and if it’s rejected – which it’s bound to be by some, we can’t please everyone – then that can be a really hard thing.

      I do so appreciate your kind, encouraging comments on this blog Shanjeniah. It’s good to know that as indie authors we’re all in this together and can help and support each other. That makes all the difference. 🙂


      1. Posts like this one are very useful to me, because I will be publishing one day (a good deal of writing, revising, and packaging away, but definitely in the plan).

        I prefer knowing the full scope of experience and emotion that goes along with the process. When someone like you speaks to the undercurrent of angst that can sweep you under, there’s something in that that says, “We’re not alone; I’ve been there.”

        It was brave and honest to write this post, and I’m glad you did. I only hope the support you got back has helped you to find some purchase toward feeling better (and that those sales pick up, too, of course!)


  7. Onwards and upwards! The dips make us appreciate our successes even more….even famous authors have published (or not) books which were not so popular…keep smiling!


  8. Wow Elaine, this is a really brave and honest post to write and for me, you have summed up my thoughts as well. Regardless of how we think that we should feel, the fact is that we do feel the way that you have described, I don’t believe that we would be human if we didn’t. It is hard not to measure our success in material wealth and when you have poured your heart and soul into a book like you have, then it is even more difficult to realise that you are not enjoying the same success as others. I suppose for me, I look at it as a journey and that is how I have come to terms with it. I started writing for personal reasons, not financial gain or celebrity status and so I have tried hard to remember that and to go back to my roots if you like. That doesn’t mean that it is easy but I for one, know how hard you have worked to accomplish what you have accomplished and I am really proud of you. Your book is great – hopefully one day, other readers will realise that too. Great post. 🙂


    1. Aw thanks Jade, your kind words are like balm to my troubled soul!!! I can’t really remember exactly why I started writing – I guess it’s because it’s something I enjoy.

      I know that you too have worked really hard on your writing, and I wish you every success. It’ll be good to read the next two books you’ve been working on and I do hope very much that you’re successful in your bid to get an agent.

      BTW my work placement ends in about a month, so I’ll be more free to meet after that. Until I get a proper paid job that is. Yikes!! 🙂


      1. Yay! I am so glad that you are still getting on well with the placement and I hope that you are able to get a job at the end of it. You sure deserve too. I know how mad it is – things are just chaos at the moment but I can’t wait to see you again. Thanks for your thoughts and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can catch up properly. Good luck with the rest of your placement. 🙂


  9. Elaine, I understand that feeling. All artists do, I’m certain. I was a RA (resident assistant) for many years and would plan activities with a no-show attendance. So when I released my novel I tried not to expect much. But secretly I did. You’re right, we put our hearts out there. It’s natural to want others to love our work. I’m new to the literary world but having a dad in the music industry has taught me two things: timing and audience. These seem to be major factors in entertainment. Just keep writing. You’re a wonderful writer! Your books will find the perfect audience, give it a little time. 🙂


    1. Hi Chloe, thanks so much for your lovely comment. It’s always good to hear from you. I’m glad that you and all the other lovely people who’ve commented on this blog post understand where I’m coming from. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has these feelings.

      I think you’re right about giving it some time. The trouble with me is I’m an impatient person – trying to be more patient!! – and I suppose I’d just like results from my writing sooner rather than later. But as people have pointed out, the business of writing and publishing is a slow process. I need to just let go a bit I think and try to be more patient. I have a feeling that maybe, just maybe, I’ll get there in the end. 🙂


  10. I know how you feel. I’ve been there as well. I believe it really is a matter of luck for some people. They were found and that’s all there was to it. It could happen to any of us. I’ll keep writing and try to do the best that I can. If we’re not seeing hundreds or thousands of sales each day, it’s because we haven’t been found. That’s how I choose to look at it. 🙂

    Onward with the next book!


    1. Hi Danielle, good to have your thoughts. I think you make a good point about it being luck for some people. When you think of some of the dire published books that are out there, you realise it really comes down to good timing!

      And I will definitely crack on with the next book!! 🙂


  11. One way to look at it is that a success for another indie ultimately is a success for us all… Once bookstores, libraries, readers, etc. see how good and successful indie books can be, it will open more doors for is all in the future. And the other point I’m always reminding myself of is that there will always be someone to be jealous of, no matter how successful you get. Praying for contentment and peace for you!


    1. Thanks for such great advice Alana. I think you’re absolutely right that success for one indie author is a success for us all. It’s just hard to remember sometimes. I appreciate your prayers – I’m praying about it too!


  12. I am currently reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and I JUST finished a chapter on jealousy. Writer envy is definitely a thing. It is natural. Perhaps a difficult thing to remember about being a writer is that all writer’s journeys are so different from one another (and some really do have better luck or hit just the right circumstances). We really can’t compare ourselves to other writers. It’s not fair to either of us.

    A takeaway for me was this: Another writer’s success is not a reflection on me. I have to keep doing what I do, and success will come or it won’t (or perhaps moderately). The writing is what matters in the end.


    1. Hi Julie, thanks for your lovely comment. I think you put it so well at the end of your comment: the writing is what matters. But it’s so easy to forget that sometimes, isn’t it? That book you’re reading sounds interesting. Maybe I’ll look it up… 🙂


  13. We all feel that way but it doesn’t make us bad people. I don’t believe in luck; good bad or indifferent. Stuff just happens over which we have very little control for the most part. For all those who have made it, then I’m happy for them, but it doesn’t stop me wanting the same.


    1. Hi! Thanks very much for commenting. I agree with you that it doesn’t make us bad people if we feel a bit green with envy sometimes! For me I just want to let go of my insecurities and get on with my writing, not compare my lack of success with those who I see as being very successful at what they do. Like you I want to be happy for those who have made it – but I DEFINITELY want the same! Hopefully one day I’ll get there. 🙂


      1. Even in the unlikely even that you don’t make zillions, it won’t ruin your life. Enjoy the chase. And we’re only losers if we stop trying.


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