I had a conversation earlier this week with a friend who was frustrated with her boss. I’ve heard plenty of stories about this particular boss, most of them anecdotes about how terrible she is at running her business, but then her employees step up and save her when it gets really rough, because they want to keep their jobs.
“Ugh! It’s so unfair that she totally stinks at her job, yet gets to be the boss. You could run it so much better.”
“Well,” she replied, “She’s the one that took the risk! You have to take risks to succeed in life. She put the money on the line to get the business, not me!”
That really got me thinking. Do you need to take risks in order to succeed? And, what kind of risks? Does it have to be a monetary risk in order to catapult you to success?
This weekend, I was at a writer’s institute (you know, the one you saw me crying about in that video) and I was learning about all the different ways I could try to publish my book. To summarize, there are 3 basic ways a book can be published:
- Self-publishing: You do everything yourself. You edit, proofread, design your own cover using an online website, and then you upload it to Amazon. Anyone can do this, and it costs you nothing (except your time.) You make most of your royalties, with Amazon taking a chunk. Your book is not in physical bookstores (usually).
- Hybrid publishing: There are publishing companies out there who want to help authors publish high-quality books, but don’t have the means to necessarily take the risk on you. So they take your pitch, and if they like you, they’ll work with you to get a great book out there. However, the risk is yours because you have to pay money for their services. This can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars, all the way to $10,000, depending on what you need.
- New-York publishing: This is like trying to win American Idol. The publishing business is WAY different from what it was, thanks to a lot of different things (e-books, self-publishing, the economy’s depression). Nobody gives you a huge advance anymore (unless you’ve already proven you can sell a trillion books), they don’t pay for you to travel around on a book tour and go on the Today Show. You have to be ok with risking a lot of your time, because it takes forever. And before you can even do this, you have to find an agent who not only believes in you, but believes that your book can make money.
The book I wrote (still untitled) is a book about loss and hope. It’s a memoir about losing my twins, and all the horrible, crappy things that came after, and then how I used my grief to find a community that helped me through. I tell about how I flew from Wisconsin to LA to meet a stranger from the internet that had become my best friend I know, crazy, right?).
I’ve read a lot of books about grief, and I don’t find any of them to be particularly honest. As I was writing mine, I was thinking about the things that made me feel crazy when I was dealing with loss and my subsequent pregnancies. I wrote about them in detail. I included photographs, texts, emails, and artifacts from that time that may really surprise you (emails from funeral directors explaining how you can’t cremate infants by themselves because they burn too fast, a relative who told me my babies died because they would have been serial killers, and ALL THE TIMES someone told me that it happened for a reason)
When my twins had just died, the only books about infant loss I could find were written by PhDs, or they were so focused on being “literary” that they left out a lot of the grit, which is what (I think) we need. We need honesty, and transparency. Someone to tell us that we are not alone, and that there is hope.
I don’t think I”m necessarily destined to become a New York Time’s Best-Selling Author. However, I am so passionate about this book being read, and not just by loving friends and family who support me in whatever I do. There’s a place for this book on the shelf.
So, what am I willing to risk? My family’s money? More of my time? How far am I willing to go?
What say you? What risks have you taken in your life? Have they mostly worked out for you?