“You must be prepared to work always without applause.”
– Ernest Hemingway
There are two different ways to look at this quote. I find it useful from both perspectives.
Why I chose this quote
My first thought on reading this quote was that authors often get criticism rather than praise. Some readers note everything they didn’t like, and forget to mention the parts they did like. But sometimes that feedback can be helpful in showing the author how they can improve.
Of course, sometimes people are just being mean. Authors have to be resilient. It helps to remember that if we can see someone is being unfair, often our potential readers can see that too!
My second thought was that authors don’t need applause, but we do need recognition. No-one should have to work without recognition of some kind. We won’t all get reviews in the Sunday papers, or recommendations on national TV. But things have moved on a bit since Hemingway uttered these words.
What this quote means to me
Advances in technology mean that indie authors can now see when and where their books are selling. We can also see when someone is reading one of our books through a subscription service.
Last month, I saw two people were reading one of my books, through Kindle Unlimited. They were reading the same title, at the same time. One was in the UK, the other in Australia. It was incredibly motivating for me to find that these two people, on opposite sides of the world, were unknowingly connected by my book. That was the lift I needed to rewrite a scene I had been putting off.
Then there are book reviews. I’ve just had my first successful ad campaign. Four long years after publishing my first book, I have finally sold a reasonable number of books in a month without a book launch. The difference between this campaign and my previous attempts? One review. One additional review flipped the visibility switch. Now people can actually see my books, they are buying them. Astonishing, isn’t it?
So whether you buy my books, or read them through Kindle Unlimited, you are making a difference. And if you leave a review – please know how important you are. These acts might not seem like much when you look at them in isolation. But you are connected to every other reader. Together, you are the equivalent of an applauding audience.
In this digital world, where everything we do online is stored and measured and analysed, I can see my readers. Not just lines on charts, or numbers in tables. I see supportive people who are giving my books a chance and helping me succeed.
I see you.
You are my motivation to keep writing.
What motivates you to keep going when your goals are hard to reach?
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