What I Learned From Not Hitting The New York Times Bestseller List
Just over a month ago I released my first book, The 5-Day Real Food Detox nationally and it was a pretty tremendous achievement. Like most authors, I had my sights set on the New York Times Bestseller, which is kind of like winning an Oscar, but for authors. When I went into the planning of the launch, my entire goal was revolving around hitting the List and there was very little that would stop me. When I told my editor and PR team from Random House, they kept advising me not to get my hopes up to high and to just focus on getting books sold. The two really went hand in hand to me: sell a ton of books and get on the List. Get on the List and sell even more books.
As most authors will say about their own work, their book deserves to be known by the masses, and I’m no different when I state this sentiment. To me, the book I wrote really is a game changer because it’s a plan that works on so many levels. It’s not just a plan, it’s a little guide of all things health related that can change your relationship with food. I’ve had nothing but great feedback from it and those who have done the detox. So it wasn’t out of the ordinary when I really thought that I was going to hit NY Times.
But I didn’t.
The first week, which is the most important to any author, came and went and I had good sales, but nothing worthy of making the List. Second week came with more great sales, but still no List. Then the first month passed and I realized that it wasn’t in the cards to hit the List right now. Which got me thinking, if I could share anything I learned about not making the New York Times Bestseller List, what would it be?
I did a LOT of research about marketing a book and how to hit the List. I listened to every podcast, bought books on how to market your book, spoke with my PR team at my publisher a ton, spoke with my agents, read as many blog posts as I could… I felt like I had a lot of knowledge. Nothing prepared me for what happened though.
Here’s what I learned from not hitting the New York Times bestseller list:
- Do your research. Like all things in life, if you want to become better at something you must learn about it. This is why we go to school for such a long time, why we study to get our Master’s, and why we read books on happiness, how to make money, and all sorts of other topics. In order to do better, you must learn something you didn’t know. And so for me, learning all that I could about the New York Times was imperative. I asked my publisher and agent countless questions and didn’t give up until I felt I fully understood. I read as much as I could (in a short period of time, more on this in #5), looked at all different sources, asked around to people I knew who had hit the list if they would give me advice, and then I took notes on everything that stood out for me. Reading lots of books and listening to podcasts are great, but if you don’t actually take notes, write down your action plan, and put your thoughts on paper, doing all the research isn’t worth half as much.
- Set your sights high. I truly believe that simultaneously we can celebrate what we have today, while trying to go for what we want tomorrow. I was able to be completely grateful for the fact that I even had a book deal, yet I chose to push my sights to something that is pretty unattainable. In aiming for the list, I was pushing myself far outside of anything I’ve ever done and it scared the crap out me, yet at the same time, pushed me more than anything ever has. My thoughts on this is that if you never push yourself out of your comfort zone, you will not learn all there is be learned, nor will you see if your dreams can actually become reality. Some of your hardest battles in life and they longest journeys will lead to the most rewarding of times, so be prepared for the long haul if you are aiming high.
- You will never see a positive result with negative thinking. I started planning the book launch about two months in advance and each day I was stressed out, exhausted, cranky, and not a very fun person to be around. One day I had a light bulb moment and realized that hitting the list is a very positive thing. Yet I was ending each day with so much stress and feeling overwhelmed, which is very negative. The epiphany came when I understood that my daily stress (negatives) was not going to add up in two months to the List (positive). It seems really simple, yet so many of us allow our days to be ruled by stress, when we are trying to live happy lives. As soon as I understood this, I was able to change my daily negatives into keeping track of how many little positives I could have. I began meditating daily, even if only two minutes. I wrote in my gratitude log. I made a lot of time to do “Me” things like working out, going out to dinner with friends and whatever it took to enjoy my day. The outcome of this was that each and every day I started feeling more little positives, that it almost became a game of ‘how many positives can I add up today.’ To make this more simple, think about your stressors in life, each one is a (-), so imagine if you have 3 days of really stressful days (-)(-)(-) this is NOT going to somehow end it a (+). Yet if you can change your attitude towards your day you will have more (+)(+)(+) = +
- Enjoy the journey no matter what the outcome might be. When I changed my way of thinking and turning my negatives into positives, I realized that each day was becoming better than the previous. The two months flew by and I can’t really tell you what I did each day, but what I do know is that I enjoyed almost every moment of it. I really, truly had an incredible launch and wouldn’t have changed a thing about it (except #5). When you let go of your attachment to whatever outcome you are trying to achieve, you can start to appreciate the day-to-day moments a lot more. And this goes for everything in life. That’s not saying don’t aim for the moon, it’s just saying that when you set your sights high, plan for it, try to get there and appreciate every moment, but make your focus on all the things leading up to it, not the actual destination. This has been one of the greatest lessons I took away from the book launch, purely because we all hear that quote so often “it’s not about the destination, but the journey” yet it’s incredibly hard to actually take a moment to appreciate what it means. Really, it means slow down, smell the roses, maybe get stung by a bee, but know that when you did, it’s because you were taking time for something beautiful. There is no such thing as only good in life, we have to experience pain, hardship, and a lot of BS in order to experience some of the best moments of our life!
- Plan, plan, and plan some more. Ah, now this one. Of course. Let me tell you one small secret: if you don’t plan for whatever your dreams are, you probably won’t achieve them. So while I don’t want to change anything about my book launch, the only thing I would have done differently is to start planning way in advance. It’s taken me a bit of time to process why I didn’t plan the book launch further in advance and I’ve come to understand that it was fear. A lot was riding on me for this book and I went through all the emotions of feeling like I didn’t deserve a book, that my publisher messed up giving me a deal, and I believe subconsciously I allowed this to slightly sabotage my efforts. Now understand, I’m being completely transparent with you all right now and sharing something pretty scary. It’s not easy to admit that deep down you don’t think you deserve success (although most of us have this rooted in us). That being the case, it is completely in your hands to be able to change this and plan for your future to create the success you want. If you want to buy a house, you wouldn’t try to “find” enough money a few months before; you would save up for a long time. The same goes for taking a test, getting your dream job, or in my case hitting the List. I slightly freaked out and left it until I had two months left, at which point I did everything I could, which was still a lot. But please take my word for it; if you want to achieve greatness, you have to plan it out!
- Don’t let other’s fears affect you. When I started telling people that I was trying hit the List, by far the biggest reaction was “Oh gosh! But what if you don’t hit it?! What will you do?” Let me share a little secret: that is other people’s fears hiding inside that sentence. We are all programed to react certain ways because of what has happened in our life. Our minds think more negatively, which is natural and for most when we have bad things happen in our life that is what gets set subconsciously over all the good moments. This isn’t necessarily bad, but you should be aware of it. Naturally, I understand the question because people wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go jump off a bridge or go into a deep depression if I didn’t hit the list. I get it, I really do. Now I also had a few people say, “Wow! That’s awesome! I know if anyone can do it, it will be you!” Want to know about the people who said this to me? They are all individuals who have become very successful in their own fields because they don’t let fear control them. They are the ones who believe that when you put your mind to something and have a plan you can do it. Of course, there were more people asking me the “what if” question than telling me I could do it and I had to learn to let go of any thoughts associated with the ‘can’t do it’ statements. I set my sights high, I planned (to an extent), I knew I had a good product, and I went about my days turning them into positives. All of these made it easier to not be bothered by people asking me a question that is actually very caring, and instead just go about doing what I needed to do.
- Have faith in the universe/unknown. I didn’t hit the List and do you know what? I’m not upset about it. I really, honestly am not. I know there are things that I could have done differently (again, such as planning!), but I’m not mad about not hitting it. I have let go of my association with this “thing” and instead I enjoyed every moment. I realized going into my book launch that if I did everything I could in terms of work, was positive throughout the journey, and still didn’t hit it, that the universe had some other plan for me and that was okay. The scary thing about life is we don’t know what’s next. We don’t know when we might get in a car accident, when we might find the love of our lives, or if we might be laid off. All we can do is know that we are going into each and every day filled with gratitude, love, kindness and compassion. When you do these simple things, you will find that trusting the universe, god, Spirit, or the unknown (or whatever you call the power beyond us), it all becomes a lot easier. Life is full of beautiful surprises, crazy life lessons, hardships, love, loss, anger, pain, happiness, and every other possible thing we can experience. We cannot control any of it. All we can control is how we handle our own mind and to trust that what is meant to be, will be.
So as you can tell, there were a lot of lessons that came out of launching my book. What I learned from not hitting the New York Times bestseller list was a lot of really incredible things and quite honestly, it’s a really beautiful thing for me to be able to put these onto paper and express them to you. Maybe you are trying to hit the List yourself, maybe you are looking for your dream job/partner/house, or even life. No matter what your goal is, what I’ve shared above can be applied to anything and I truly believe that when we take a step back from what we “think” is what we should be doing, and instead let our intuition, love, and compassion lead us, everything begins to make sense.