Pride – Excessive admiration of one's worth and one's achievements.
Pride is often reckoned to be the most serious of the seven deadly sins. It's fair to say it may be the most serious for authors too. What else could cause a once successful author to disappear without trace, or file for bankruptcy having defaulted on the loan for their yacht?!
Ok so maybe I'm exaggerating slightly, but here's why pride is the most serious of the seven deadly sins in writing. I came across a saying when I was working 9-5 for 'the man'. “It's better to fail and know why then succeed and not.” This always seemed to resonate with me and I think it's particularly apt when it comes to success as an author. If your debut novel sky rockets up the charts to number one it's easy to get carried away taking pride in your accomplishment. But have you stopped to ask yourself why you succeeded?
When it comes to planning your second novel, you need to be able to replicate that which brought you success. Sometimes though, an overbearing sense of pride in your previous accomplishment can make you think that anything you produce will have the same success. You can become complacent, rest on your laurels, and release a piece of work that doesn't come close to your first. Before you know it they'll be calling you a one hit wonder, who got lucky with their initial success.
Pride comes before a fall, we all know that, but your job as an author is to minimise the impact of that fall. The higher you are the further you have to fall and the harder it is to cushion the impact or soften the decline. The graph at the top of this article is common, your early success is likely to be your high point and the sales numbers may be in steep decline from then on. Rather than staring at your name in lights you should be doing everything you can to maximise your stay at the top and provide long term sales, perhaps by reducing price points and running promotions.
The sooner you get over your sense of pride, the sooner you can start working hard on your next goal, your next novel, your next number one. Let other people fawn over your work, if it's successful there will be plenty to do so. You can use their positive messages as motivation to make the next book at least as good if not better.
Just don't take that first royalty cheque and sink it into a 40ft yacht just yet.