Monday, October 19, 2015

The Expectation Conversation

Have you ever tried to set up a piece of electronics and found that the directions were useless?  You read them.  You followed them exactly.  Step by step, you never strayed from the instructions on the page.  Yet, when all was said and done, you pushed the power button, and nothing happened.  Frustrating, isn't it?

Or maybe you're more familiar with accomplishing a task or project.  Again, you followed the directions.  And again, the results were not the ones you were expecting.  In fact, you even went back and double checked the instructions.  Did I do every step?  Did I complete them in the right order?  And after discovering that the answer to both of those questions was "yes," you scratched your head (or pulled out your hair) and whined, "Then why isn't this working?"

Ever been there?  I sure have.  In fact, I am there.  After taking some classes on how to attract more attention to my books and increase my book sales, I decided to try out all this new information (well, new to me) on my book launch.  So, I sought out the reviews.  I called in the beta readers.  I spent days and days contacting this person and that person about promoting my new middle-grade novel.  I researched out the best keywords for my book description and narrowed down my categories to the best and most specific ones I could find on Amazon.  I did free advertising, and yes, I even paid for advertising.  I marked down the price of all the books in the series and even offered the first book for free.  All of these things, mind you, were steps in the process of gaining more exposure and, in turn, more sales.

Well, the book promotion began on October 5th, and at the time of this writing, I've sold three copies of the new release, five copies of the second book in the series and given away one hundred twelve copies of the first book.  Now, I know that the last figure may sound impressive, but I assure you, it is not.  In comparison to other books on Amazon (and even other books within the same category), the number of giveaways is abysmal.  But it's the first number that really depresses me.  All that time, money and energy spent for three copies.  Three!!!!  Seriously?  I've sold more books than that without ever doing a bit of marketing.

It just seems so unfair.  I followed all the proper steps.  I closely adhered to the advice of my instructors.  I crossed every "t" and dotted every "i," but the results were downright discouraging.  I was expecting so much more.  After putting in so much time and effort, I felt sure that my hard work would pay off.  But so far, it hasn't.  (And please understand that I am not, in any way, trying to guilt you into buying my book).  That's not my point.  Rather, my lesson is that expectations can be dangerous and can lead us into the valley of discouragement, disappointment and depression.

Each day of our lives, we're bound to build up expectations about the way we think things should happen.  We skip breakfast and expect the scale to read two pounds lighter the next morning (oh, if only!!!).  We leave early for work, expecting to miss the bulk of the traffic.  We hint around to our spouse about an upcoming event we would like to attend and expect that they'll understand that the subtle hint was actually a request.  We expect others to treat us the way we want to be treated.  And yes, we even expect God to act according to our plans and timetables.  How's that working out for us?

Just this morning, Jason and I had the "expectation conversation". . . again!  And once again, he reminded me that I would save myself a lot of disappointment if I would stop expecting things to go my way.  Instead, I should leave all things in God's hands and trust that He will work them out according to His plans.  Isn't that the best?  Aren't God's ways the best ways?  Plus, if I expect God to do things His way, and He does just that, then I have nothing to be disappointed about, right?

So, when it all boils down, I guess I haven't been doing all the right things after all.  Sure, I may have been following my book promotion checklist, but have I been following God's checklist?  Um, it would seem not, but that's about to change.  I have decided to place my writing and all other factions of my ministry in God's hands and leave the results up to Him.  He's already opened many wonderful doors for me this year, so I have no reason to doubt He will continue to bless.  From now on, I need only to have one expectation--I expect God to be God!

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. - Psalm 55:22

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