where the writers are
Confront Your Fear of Failure If You Want to Succeed
Fear of Failure Image

Ernie Zelinski contemplating fear at La Table de Renoir Restaurant in Edmonton

It may come as a surpise to some people that we all have our doubts and our fears about our projects and career aspirations, regardless of how much success we have achieved in the past.

Lest you think that you can totally eliminate the fear of failure forever by being a major success in your field, perish the thought. You will always experience some fear when there is risk involved.

Even though I have spent many years reprogramming myself and learning as much as I can about what it takes to be successful in my own way, I know this old programming based on fear still exists. No doubt it doesn’t affect my behavior as much as it used to, but it still does, and can become intense at times.

A recent experience comes to mind. Shortly after I completed my book How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor, I sent the manuscript to twenty-five American publishers and ten British publishers. I thought that I would have no problem getting a publisher, but the opposite happened. Here are excerpts from four of the rejection letters that I received from American publishers:

    1. From St. Martin’s Press: “After reading your proposal, I am impressed with your obvious zest for life. Unfortunately, the retirement shelf is tough at the moment and I just don’t think there is room for another title.”
    2. From Warner Books: “Even though I’m well aware of your successful track record as an author, there was a strong sense from my editorial colleagues here that most people really wouldn’t have much of a problem in trying to plot out their retirement years.”
    3. From Harmony Books: “Especially in light of the current economy, my sense is that there’s not a large audience at present for retirement books.”
    4. From Broadway Books: “Thank you for the opportunity to consider How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free. This is a quirky, informative, and often motivational look at retirement. We discussed this at our editorial meeting this week, but I’m afraid our consensus was that a book-length work on the subject just wouldn’t have enough widespread potential for us to publish it.”

Much to my surprise, all twenty-five American and ten British publishers that received my manuscript felt there was no market for retirement books, or if there was, the market was too saturated with too many similar books.

I estimated at the time that there were anywhere from one to two hundred retirement books published in English, with the likelihood of many more to come. Notwithstanding the major publishers’ negativism about the potential market for retirement books, I decided to self-publish after Ten Speed Press agreed to distribute the book for me in the United States. I felt that I had likely written the best book in the world on the personal aspects of retirement and that it should eventually prove itself in the marketplace.

Even so, after I had arranged for the editing, cover design, page layout, and printing, I was still fearful that the project would fail and that I would end up losing money. I started doubting myself largely due to the fact that so many major American publishers — the so-called experts in the field — didn’t think there was a market for the book.

It’s a good thing, as things turned out, that I confronted my fear head-on. On the other side of fear and failure is success and fortune. As Helen Keller stated, "No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit."

Taking the financial risk paid off big time. With an order that I received last week from a major U.S. Financial Corporations for 3,700 copies, and two orders of 250 copies from Ford Motor Company and the Syncrude Corporation,  How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free has now sold over 100,000 copies.

I have also sold rights to nine foreign publishers, the latest being Russian and Hungarian. Not too bad for a self-published book, wouldn't you say, that was rejected by 35 publishers — even my own publisher that publishes my The Joy of Not Working which has sold over 225,000 copies?

The cool thing is that I have now realized a tidy pretax profit of $350,000 on this self-published book much, much more in earnings than I would have received if a major publisher had published the book. Call it vanity publishing if you want, but results don't lie! Just as important, I have experienced an incredible amount of satisfaction from seeing the book do so well in the United States market when so many major American publishers felt it had no potential.

Clearly, had I not confronted my fear of self-publishing How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor, I would be poorer both financially and psychologically.

In short, fear of failure and fear of losing money are things that we all have to face and conquer if we want to work outside the corporate world. But it is not fear that is the problem. It’s how we handle fear. We must get over the fear and realize that even if we fail, we can handle failure. This is what makes all the difference.

Just for the record, my goal is to sell over 500,000 copies of How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free. Although the competition is fierce for retirement books, I won't let this interfere with my attaining my goal simply because I know that I have the World's Best Retirement Book.

Retirement Gift Book 

Over 110,000 Copies Sold and Published in 8 Foreign Languages

Purchase How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free on Amazon.com with this direct link:

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free on Amazon.com

Note: My independently published How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free and Career Success Without a Real Job, two great business promo giveaways, are now distributed by the National Book Network