How Thick Is Your Skin?

Yesterday, I was watching a video by Jack Canfield, and he said Chicken Soup for the Soul was turned down 144 times before it was published. I thought, “Wow, he must have really thick skin!”

We all get dissed. Our family and dearest friends don’t read our books. Maybe they think it’s silly we write them, or that we’ll never make any money doing it. I hear this over and over again in my writer’s group. Those of us who self-publish still get treated like our money and sales don’t mean anything by authors who publish by ‘legitimate’ means. My mother STILL wants me to look for a ‘real’ publisher. I keep running the numbers for her and she says, “Oh.” Until next time, anyway.

And you thought it was only your family, your friends and your colleagues who were unsupportive?

The one thing that derails success for creative folks more than any other is a thin skin. Every big project I’ve ever done has had naysayers, no matter how great the idea was, or how well it worked out, and it was vital to be able to keep my focus and look for people who did support me.

I wrote my first book as a lark and did not tell anyone about it until the first draft was done. I didn’t have to listen to any critics, and I think a lot of writers operate like that. There’s only one problem with this strategy. It’s essential to gather partners to your success before you’re ready to publish, and it takes time to do that. Thus exposing you to criticism during those crucial early days of developing your dream.

Forty years of creative work have taught me a few things:

  1. Criticism is more about the critic than the thing being criticized. They don’t believe they could pull it off, so therefore, you can’t either.
  2. People who diss you today will forget all about it when you turn out something great.
  3. You have to be 100% behind your project first. Are you willing to invest your time, your money and whatever it takes to make it happen?
  4. People like to be part of the crowd. Get your most likely supporters behind you, then go after the tough sells. List the people they know who are behind your project, and they’re more likely to jump on board.
  5. If they thought it was a great idea, they’d be doing it. If your idea is truly original, NOBODY is going to think it’s brilliant, at least at first. You’re going to have to sell the idea, over and over.
  6. If the criticism is specific, consider it. If it’s valid, use it to improve your project and thank them for pointing it out. Because your detractors will be your best source of information about improving your project. And it will piss them off.

Grab some Kevlar, pour another cup of coffee and keep on keeping on. If nobody gets what you’re doing, you may be onto something wonderful.

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