I didn't always know that it was okay to make a mistake. I have spent so many wasted hours worrying about the mistakes I did make and the mistakes I would probably make. Those wasted hours are ones I cannot get back. They were unproductive. There's absolutely nothing I can do about them.
But I can tell myself now that it is okay to make mistakes. If I self-publish with a cover that is slightly wrong for my nonfiction book, that's not the end of the world. It's okay if I price my book too low or too high. It's not the worst thing ever if I miss opportunities to put some people on my e-newsletter list. (This paragraph of all the mistakes I may make during indie publishing or I have made during traditional publishing could go on and on and on, but I'll stop at three. The rule of three is a good one to use when listing examples, but that's another blog post entirely. And now, I made a fourth mistake, rambling about other topics during a blog post.)
I had this realization (of it being okay to make mistakes, in case you have no idea what this post is about after my rambling) after listening to The Six Figure Author Podcast. This podcast with three indie authors who have made six figures in a year during their indie author careers is fun and inspiring. (The hosts are Lindsay Buroker, Joseph R. Lallo, and Andrea Pearson.) They share their mistakes as well as their successes, and that's important. They share how ideas that used to work don't work anymore. They share how they LEARN from their mistakes.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
That's the thing. It's okay to make mistakes if you learn from them. Okay, I'm not trying to be hard on you here. Listen, I've made the same mistakes countless times. I was just explaining to my daughter the other day on a pandemic walk (that's what I call our daily walks now) the saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I was explaining it because I have recently been fooled twice, and I was frustrated and grumpy.
But look, if I put my book up on Amazon and I follow all the information that I have now to the best of my ability, and it doesn't sell, that's okay. I know some strategies to try to improve sales. What is absolutely not all right is worrying that I will do it wrong and make mistakes and never put it up for sale. That is unexcusable, and I will not let that happen.
I know some of you worry about making a mistake, such as:
- Did I start my essay the right way? Did I revise it enough? Is it really ready to enter the contest? Am I experienced enough to enter a contest?
- Should I publish traditionally or self-publish? If I self-publish and fail, will anyone ever want to traditionally publish me again?
- Am I querying the right agents?
- Do I have the right to write this piece I wrote?
- Will anyone be mad at me if they read this essay I wrote about my truths?
- Is the world ready for my memoir?
- Am I writing for young adult or middle grade? Should I use profanity in my writing? Will I be banned?
Take a deep breath, tell yourself it's okay to make mistakes, educate yourself, and then trust yourself that you are doing the best you can do. And if you make a mistake, you will fix it and learn from it. That's all you need to do.
It's okay to make a mistake.