DIGITAL & DOWNLOAD

INSTANT ACCESS

Having coached more than six thousand individual authors, I see burnout on a daily basis. The biggest cause of burnout in this industry is not overwork. It’s unrealistic expectations.

Let’s look at the mental math involved.

One work equals one outcome in our brains—sort of like how if I plant, water, and weed one plot of ground, I expect to get one set of plants.

So when we put in two levels of work—twice as much planting, watering, and weeding—we expect two levels of outcome.

And when we put in four units of work, we expect four units of outcome. 

It’s natural for us, as humans, to have these kinds of expectations. The problem is, in this industry, the math doesn’t work predictably, or when the math appears to work for other people, we assume it should work for us. And when it doesn’t, we go looking for more work to do. 

When we do “two” work and get “one” outcome, we start putting in three and four units of work. And if we continue to get the same outcome, we put in five or ten units of work, even if the outcome doesn’t go up in response. This is burnout territory.

How can you prevent this? 

Watch your expectations, and if you feel the need to do “all the things” because “nothing is working,” pause and re-frame. The more anxious you feel about needing to see results right now, the more you’re in danger of a shorter career. You can’t maintain an imbalance of expectation of outcome vs. hard work forever, no matter what other authors can do. There are wildly successful authors who aren’t doing whatever it is you think you have to do, and they are still just as successful. 

Lifelong careers will include times when books don’t sell well. And those downs are not a sign that your career is going away. The more you can keep in touch with your fear of missing out, the more likely you are to withstand the downturns—because, remember, there will also always be upturns. Every new book is a new opportunity for better sales. 

A lifelong author career means there is always going to be open ocean in front of us, so we have to do everything we can to make our long-term process sustainable.

Becca Syme

Picture of Becca Syme

Becca Syme

Becca Syme is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach with a Master's Degree in Transformational Leadership and fourteen years of experience in success coaching with writers, organizations and individuals in communications, strategy, systems, and self-leadership. She teaches the popular Write Better-Faster course and does Strengths for Writers coaching. She lives in a ski town Montana, where it's always winter and never Christmas. And she sometimes writes mystery novels. Watch the QuitCast YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqcMMgtLuogKNSbxlwyJ5ug Learn more at http://betterfasteracademy.com.

Start or Join a Conversation About This Article:

When Writing Means Business, Storytellers Read Indie Author Magazine

Read Indie Annie's Latest Advice:

Dear Indie Annie,

I know it’s important to understand who you’re writing and marketing to, but how do I develop my ideal reader avatar? Every time I try, it feels like I’m limiting myself. Needing to Niche Down Dear Niche,  Oh darling, focusing on your target audience feels as frightening as finalizing a paint palette for your parlor. Why choose when there are so many gorgeous colors to pick from? But defining your ideal reader liberates your creativity

Read More »

Dear Indie Annie,

In the past, I’ve hired editors, cover designers, and even a virtual assistant. Passing off those responsibilities makes sense, but internal formatting always seems so straightforward. At what point is it worth investing in professional formatting services? Frugal Formatter Dear Frugal, Oh my, that moniker sounds like you’re an inhabitant of Middle Earth, but I digress. Formatting your own manuscript seems as simple as building a bookcase from IKEA: just insert tab A into slot

Read More »

Dear Indie Annie,

Despite my best marketing efforts, my backlist just isn’t selling. How do I decide whether to go back to the drawing board and refocus the series or cut my losses and unpublish it?  At a Crossroads Dear Crossroads,  I feel your frustration, love. When a backlist underperforms, it’s like owning a vintage auto that sputters more than it purrs. Do you tune it up or trade it in for a new model? Let’s hash out

Read More »

Follow Us

Weekly Tutorial

Sign up for our Newsletter

We’ll send you our best articles, special offers, and industry updates

Would You Like a Free Issue?

Hello! I’m Indie Annie, and I would love to send you a copy of this month’s issue of Indie Author Magazine. Just join our email list and I’ll drop it in your inbox!