Julie’s Five Minutes of Zen

I am the queen of low expectations. Especially in publishing. But I’m also a believer in setting your intentions, because the universe is listening to what you put into it, and is ready to give it back to you.


Did I expect my book to hit the New York Times bestseller list? No. I knew early on The Ones We Choose wasn’t going to get the kind of push required to hit that list as a debut. The formula for that is pretty simple…you have to be made a publisher’s lead title for the season with a major publicity outreach that begins early on. As an author, I see so many of my contemporaries caught up in the hype of outsized expectations, and that is a detour debut authors don’t have the luxury of taking, because outsized expectations keep you from doing the work of writing.


The best thing about low expectations is the absolute delight you get when good things happen. And the best way to bring good things to yourself isn’t to strive to be as good as or better than, it’s to appreciate the place you’re in right now…no matter what place that might be. Instead of trying to make more happen for yourself, try giving yourself to others. Reach out to a querying writer. Help another debut to promote their giveaway. Hold the hand of a friend who has been on submission for six+ months. Because the reality of a career as a writer is that you’re going to always be living in this space of anticipation and angst.


You can do all the work, you can run yourself in circles trying to tick all the boxes, post on all the platforms…but that doesn’t guarantee success. It just perpetuates the myth that you can control the outcome with a series of specific actions. You can’t. So set that down. If you’re lucky, you’ll return to this place again and again. You should figure out how to get comfortable here.


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Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control. Her debut, THE ONES WE CHOOSE, will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2018.

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