Illustration: Ashley Siebels
I woke up thinking it was going to be one of the best days of my life and it ended up being one of the worst.
I check my phone — expecting to see sales for my new book rolling in.
My inbox is flooded with reply emails from the automated e-mail message I’d sent out the promote the book on launch day.
“Amazon says your book isn’t available.”
“Your book page says there are major quality issues with your book.”
“I don’t know if you know this but […]”
I spent a year working on this book. I’ve never worked harder on anything in my entire life.
I created an affiliate marketing campaign for the book and had others sending messages to their tribes about the book — some of them sent out messages to their tribes before I could alert them about the issue.
Regardless of how I bounced back (which I did) a certain number of those sales were gone forever — thousands of clicks sent to a dead Amazon page.
One reader even replied to me saying “If you want to give people self-help advice, maybe start with learning how to properly self-publish a book.”
Turns out there was an issue I considered minor that Amazon considered major — the footnotes in my book weren’t linked properly. OK.
Have you ever felt totally dejected?
Has it ever felt like the world was just raining piles of shit on top of you non-stop?
That’s how I felt.
But what kind of self-improvement writer would I be if I didn’t use my own advice?
That’s exactly what I did.
Ioften tell people to feel their feelings deeply instead of trying to push them down. Until you accept what has happened, you can’t make your next move.
In this situation, I didn’t have a ton of time to waste. I’m not going to lie, I was shell shocked completely for about an hour, but then I remembered….
I sent a message out to the people who were helping with the book. Fortunately, many of them hadn’t sent anything out yet. First fire put out.
Next, I had to solve the issue with my book.
I reached out to the company that helped me format the book. This was in the morning and the company was on the West Coast. AWESOME.
They told me it would take at least one business day to make the changes.
“But I don’t have a business day!”
Eventually, I realized that I was on their time no matter what.
That didn’t sit well with me, though. Experience has taught me to never take no for an answer. Find another way.
So what did I do next? I did the same thing I do whenever I find myself in a pinch.
You ready for my magical move? Do you want to know how I fixed a crisis in real-time, even though I had no idea what to do?
Ok. Here goes. I opened my computer and typed “Google.com.”
“How to fix footnotes in an ebook.”
“How to format epub and Mobi files”
“Book editing software.”
I finally found the software to edit the book. Should be easy enough” I thought.
Just go through the book editor, highlight some stuff, and hit the “link button.”
My dumbass thought it would be some WYSIWYG editor. Nope, I ended up with a bunch of HTML.
Back to Google.
I found a solution that I could use to fix the book. There I was, zero experience formatting books, and I fixed the issue all by myself. I didn’t know how to code, per se, but I knew how coding works. I technically didn’t know what I was doing, but I didn’t need to. I just needed to replace certain lines of code.
I put the ebook through preview software and it looked excellent. The formatters did an amazing job, minus that one issue.
When you run into issues like this, draw on your experience:
- I don’t know how to code, but I know basic HTML rules from years of blogging and working at a web agency
- I know there’s always, always, always, a workaround. See, you have to think creatively. At my old job, I helped solve major issues that developers told me were impossible. I did this because I didn’t think like a developer. I thought like someone trying to solve a problem.
- I understood that getting butthurt about the situation wasn’t going to help. The past is the past. Over. Done.
This is the power of self-improvement.
This is the power of developing useful skills over a long period of time.
Focus on self-improvement and you’ll learn how to bounce back. I rarely share first-hand accounts and stories that are solely about myself, but this exception paints the picture of what self-improvement really looks like, what it really does, and how it really works.
Learn from my story and apply the lessons you draw from it.
If you learn to appreciate silver linings, you’ll be unstoppable. Sometimes things don’t go well initially but pave the way to something better down the road.
Because my day one promotion didn’t go so well, I came up with all these other marketing ideas I’m going to use moving forward that I wouldn’t have thought of without the pressure from my screw up.
Going through this type of setback and overcoming it gives me even more conviction when I write. It helps further prove that I practice what I preach.
You don’t want a blemish-free life. You want scars.
Now…you don’t want to mess up on purpose. Always try to succeed. But if you don’t, use the lessons from failure to your advantage.
Failure sucks, either way, you might as well get something from it.
Ayodeji is the author of the (error-free) book, Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement.