Control Issues

There are things writers cannot control when it comes to getting published.  

Such as….

  • When an editor or an agent reads our stuff 
  • The mood of the agent or the editor when they read our stuff
  • The other books that are being pitched at the pub board meeting
  • What’s hot and what’s not in the industry
  • The background, personal preferences, and life experiences editors and agents bring with them to the story

This lack of control isn’t something that ends once we get a book deal. It carries over AFTER publication.

What can’t a published author control?

  • Sales. Yes, there are things we (and our publisher) can do to spread the word and pique interest. But ultimately, we can’t force anyone to buy our book. 
  • Which genre is hot at the time of our release
  • Where our books get placed in stores
  • What stores carry our books
  • Publicity. We can pitch stuff to various media outlets. Our publicist can do the same. But that doesn’t mean anyone will show interest.
  • The backgrounds, personal preferences, and life experiences each reader brings to our book, all of which influence their reaction to it. This is exactly why the very same book can elicit one star reviews and five star reviews

I think there’s this very tempting trap we can fall into as writers.

And that is this….

It’s up to us. The success of our book is in our hands. 

If it succeeds, we must have done something right.

If it fails…. 

We must not have done enough.

As if more blog posts or more Facebook friends or more Tweets or more clever pins on Pinterest or more book signings or more giveaways would have translated into more sales.

In a post titled, Does Social Media Really Help? historical romance author, Jody Hedlund, said this:

“What we do in our limited scope on twitter or blogging is merely a blip in the wide-world of publication—especially with so many other writers on social media all scrambling to be heard.”

It reminds me of something Dan Walsh said at the ACFW conference last year.

We can bring our five loaves and our two fish to the table. But at the end of the day, God decides what He’s going to multiply

So bring your fives loaves and your two fish.

Write the VERY best story you can write. Take advantage of the marketing opportunities that come your way. And then?

Find a way to let the rest go.

Don’t let rejections or sales figures or not finaling in a contest steal your passion and your joy.

Next time you find yourself stressing over things outside of your control, step away from the computer. Kiss your spouse. Hug somebody you love. Wrestle and laugh with your children. Smile. Be a blessing. Write from your gut. Praise God for all the good stuff. And don’t lose track of what matters.

God. Family. Friends. Writing stories that touch lives.

Whether it’s ten or ten thousand.

Let’s Talk: Do you let yourself get caught up in things outside of your control?

Jill Kemerer addressed things writers can and can’t control is a very lovely post titled, Stamina

18 thoughts on “Control Issues

  1. […] all cool (Fresh Prince of Bel Air style) while humming the melody of Que Sera, Sera. Because God will multiply what He plans to multiply. Thing Two wants to give up on the rat race […]

  2. […] Justine Larbalestier takes on “the dumbest argument ever”: that YA novelists are in it just for the money; Ava Jae asks if we really want overnight success; and Katie Ganshert reminds us of the wisdom of letting go of the things we cannot control. […]

  3. You packed so much sanity into that post, Katie! May I borrow some, please? 🙂

  4. Very well said. You make so many great points. Its up to us to do our very best and trust that God will do with it what He will.

  5. Great post, Katie. It’s a good reminder, too, not to spend so much time comparing. Thanks!

  6. Loved this, K. 🙂

  7. Applause! Well said, Katie!

  8. Aghhhgh! So true. I just vlogged about this recently. God brought the verse into my mind: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Prov).

    We can do everything humanly possible, but it will never be enough without God’s blessing and go-ahead on it. It stinks when you’re very driven in your writing and ready to move ahead, without knowing which way you’re moving. I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t had much peace in this querying/proposing/waiting process–for about 4 years now! Just praying my wait will soon come to an end! But I just keep casting that lot back into God’s lap!

  9. Oh yes, I’m a bit of a control freak. I’ve always been able to achieve…if you work hard enough, you should be able to, right? Wrong. Some things are just beyond our control.

    I’m really trying lately to give it to God. To remember He’s got this. To keep my eyes focused on Him. To redefine what “success” means.

  10. This is soooo good. Usually, whenever I’m at my most stressed, it’s solely because I’ve tried to take control of something that’s sooo not up to me. And then I kick myself… 🙂

  11. Awesome post! Thanks for this reminder right when I need it!

  12. Such words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing this!

  13. Exactly! So true. Thanks for reminder, especially over the 1 vs 5 star thing!! That so happens and did recently with my novel Her Family Wish. Some people loved the characters and others pretty much called them names. Lol

  14. Great post, Katie. I’m so new to all this, but I’m already learning the great benefit of letting things go and letting God have control, not that I’ve mastered it, but I’m aiming for it.

  15. YES! I have control issues… and what a great and timely reminder that I really have no control over the things I worry about.

  16. Ganise


  17. Patti Mallett

    Thanks for this great reminder, Katie. It is what I believe to be true to the core of my being – but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to hear it again. Quite the contrary. The more we hear these things, and find that others stand in agreement, the firmer is the ground under our feet.

  18. gorgeous. well said


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