Growing Thicker Skin

Years ago when I decided I would become both a publisher and author, I knew if I stayed in the business long enough, I would eventually make someone unhappy.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in business is that when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.  Everyone has to take a position in life.  Everyone has to make a stand regarding their convictions and beliefs.  Sometimes it is unpopular. This includes the work we all do and what we produce.

I have to admit, it is still easier for me to notice one negative comment and review of my books than a positive comment.  Fortunately, I receive more positive feedback than negative ones.  But the negative ones do stick out in my mind.

When I look at the negative feedback, I look to the tone of the comments and whether it was intended as being constructive or destructive.  I also look to see if someone looks for what is right about a book vs. what is wrong with a book.

The negative comments I have seen are split between constructive and destructive 40/60 with the destructive ones having an edge.  I can live with the fact that my work may not please everyone.  But I find it interesting how many of the destructive comments get personal and off-base they are.

Some people read more into my writings than are really there.  Others see very little in some of my writings when it is actually some of the most important stuff people need to know.

Case in point, “The Intrepid Way” was my first book written in 2003 and I consider it one of my most important works.  It is important because it represents my spirit and the message I am trying to share.  And yet, it has been the most criticized for a variety of reasons.  I actually thought about discontinuing the book once my print run was sold out.

But a funny thing happened.  It kept selling with no publicity.  Sales actually picked up in 2006 as I sold my last copies of the 2004 edition.  I actually ran out of copies to sell!  I had to turn some orders way.

“The Intrepid Way” is not one of my top sellers but it is a steady seller.  I took the increased sales as a sign that the book was not yet meant to be put to rest.  And so, during the Summer of 2006, I decided to update the book.  I not only decided to update the book but I vowed to not let the occasional negative and destructive comment derail me from being true to my work.  I renewed my comment to keep “The Intrepid Way” alive as long as people continued to show interest in my book.  There would be no more silly notions of discontinuing it.   That piece of work was simply too important to let some detractors take it away from me.

As a result, I believe I have grown some thicker skin over the years.  I have a greater level of confidence as I turn out some 6 to 8 titles per year.  I put a lot of thought, work, and passion to every title I release.  I make sure that each title serves a very particular purpose and delivers more than the price I charge for it.

I am happy that sales continue to gradually increase with little promotion and marketing.  One of these days, I am going to have to get more serious about promotion and marketing.  But the fact is, I have my hands full right now simply producing the number of titles I do per year.  At some point, I will slow down.  Last year was not the time.  This years is not the time. And certainly next year is not the time.

Part of my goals is achieving a level of production as an independent publisher and author that few authors can match.  Growing a thicker skin has been necessary to disregard the tired values and sensibilities I see in traditional publishing.  It has allowed me to be as true to my work and be as authentic as I can be.   I believe when you become authentic, people respond in a positive way.

Thanks to the naysayers and my critics.  They have helped inspire me to step up and produce in a way I probably never could if I didn’t have them.

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