Last week I was corresponding with a client whose book contains a message that’s fairly edgy and in some ways, counter-cultural. He knows I totally believe in him and his book, but in this one particular email I used some cautious language. I told him we were “walking a tricky line” trying to find the right publisher for the book—one who was both liberal enough for the subject matter, yet not objecting to the underlying Christian message. (Can’t say any more about it right now, sorry.)
My client wrote back with a gentle reminder to let go of the fear of failure, and to stop thinking small.
He had a good point. I don’t think small. If I were thinking small, I wouldn’t take on a book that’s somewhat risky and definitely challenging—for me, as well as for his eventual readers. I’m thinking this book could be huge, and could definitely change lives. That’s why I took it on. So I appreciated the reminder to keep thinking big and not worry about failing.
As I wrote a couple of years ago in my post Manage Your Expectations, I think it’s crucially important that we all keep our expectations somewhat in line with reality. It’s easy to get caught up in Stephenie Meyer dreams, which can lead to disappointment when your book deal isn’t as huge as you’d like, and your advance won’t buy you a new house. So I’m always advising writers to be optimistic, yet realistic.
It’s a tightrope, isn’t it? Trying to balance realistic expectations with big dreams? Yet somehow, we all need to walk it.
Q4U: How do you manage your expectations, yet “think big” about your project? How do you hold fast to your belief, yet not allow it to cripple you in the event the reality is not quite as big as your dream?
Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent