Letting Go of Scarcity Thinking
I have noticed that our culture is permeated with scarcity thinking, and the world of books and publishing is no exception. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
♦ Another author just got a 2-book deal. That’s two less spots for me.
♦ An agent just announced a new client. There goes my shot.
♦ Look how many self-pub authors are making six figures. There’s not enough room for me.
♦ I’m supposed to write my books PLUS do all this social media and marketing? There’s not enough time!
♦ There are too many books out there. How will readers find mine?
This kind of thinking has saturated the writing community to such an extent that we hardly recognize it anymore. Author Lynne Twist writes:
The first prevailing myth of scarcity is that there’s not enough. There’s not enough to go around. Everyone can’t make it. Somebody’s going to be left out. There are way too many people. There’s not enough food. There’s not enough water. There’s not enough air. There’s not enough time. There’s not enough money.
There’s not enough becomes the reason we do work that brings us down or the reason we do things to each other that we’re not proud of. There’s not enough generates a fear that drives us to make sure that we’re not the person, or our loved ones aren’t the people, who get crushed, marginalized, or left out. [The Soul of Money, p. 49]
I believe that in publishing, “there’s not enough” is an insidious myth. There are a LOT of readers and book buyers out there. Do you realize the total U.S. trade book industry reported revenues in 2012 of over $7 billion? Yes, seven billion dollars. There is enough to go around. Even for you.
But the scarcity mentality is fueled by our sense of comparison and competition with one another. We instinctively believe that if one person gets ahead, that leaves us behind. It causes us to be fearful of others’ success.
What do you think fuels the massive “us vs. them” mentality in the traditional-vs.-self-publishing conversation? A scarcity mentality. We simply can’t believe or accept that both camps can be successful, both can be good and right for those who choose it. Instead, we let our fear of “not enough” lead us to denigrate the other side.
We allow our fear of “not enough” to make us depressed about our chances of getting published; depressed about our chances of finding readers and finding fulfillment and finding financial success.
So what should we do?
Author Brené Brown writes:
The counterapproach to living in scarcity is not about abundance. In fact, I think abundance and scarcity are two sides of the same coin. The opposite of “never enough” isn’t abundance or “more than you could ever imagine.” The opposite of scarcity is enough [emphasis added]. [Daring Greatly, p. 29]
I think we each need to be confident that we are enough. Each of us, innately, is enough. We are exactly what we are supposed to be.
And beyond that, we have enough. We have enough time, we have enough talent, we have enough energy. And if we don’t, we have enough intelligence to go find it.
There are enough readers for all of us. There are enough dollars to go around. We each have to find our own ways of getting what we need. If we don’t, it won’t be because there is not enough. There is enough.
What is your experience of the scarcity versus “enough” mentality? Do you think scarcity is real, or a mindset that we convince ourselves is real?
Has scarcity thinking saturated your publishing journey? Click to Tweet.
“There are too many books out there. How will readers find mine?” Scarcity thinking: Click to Tweet.
The “us vs. them” mentality in publishing is fueled by scarcity mentality. Click to Tweet.