THE MOMENT THIS YEAR THAT FAILURE HIT ME

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Photography by
JKG | jkgphotography.co.uk
Location: Tooting, London

When it comes to my career or work life I am extremely lucky to earn a substantial wage and experience amazing opportunities, as well as achieve things I used to only dream about...One of those things being my book.

In 2015 I met with a book agent with the hopes of eventually publishing the very book you may or may not have already read  - No Filter. I knew I wanted to share my story in the hopes it would inspire someone else to carry on when things are pretty shit. I would be lying if Zoella's achievements didn't inspire me back then - she was and still is the leading vlogger in the UK who has stats and credentials that are mind blowing. However I knew my book would be completely different and a piece of work from a vlogger that hadn't really been done before.

So in October 2016, after 15 meetings all around London with publishers such as Penguin & Hodder - I decided Headline was the best place for me (and I still stand by that statement). In December my contract was signed, sealed and delivered and by March 2016 the first draft had been handed in. I had incredible support during the entire process and enjoyed writing the book that is out today.

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However, navigating the publishing world has been weird. I was extremely naive that I could create a conversation surrounding the fact that I am the first, black, British, female vlogger with a publishing deal but nobody else seemed to care but me? I thought my story would be enough and the fact that I didn't fit the norm of a published author - especially as an 'influencer' would break some boundaries, and with my hard work create a successful book.

I was wrong.

There was a huge amount of pressure for high pre-sales which I didn't live up to, and trying to 'sell' my book to my audience started to feel more like a chore. There are only so many tweets and IG plugs you can do before it becomes tedious and appears unauthentic which of course, just isn't me. There were also other mounting pressures like landing a daytime TV slot to plug the book, as well as getting high interest in the US so that I could release No Filter out there too. In hindsight, the pressure wasn't actually overwhelming but for someone like me, who wants to do well and highly achieve, I doubled the amount myself. I also worried that my follower count wasn't enough to bring in the sales and interest that my publishers and I had hoped for.

So what should have been an exciting time for me, turned into anxiety and self doubt.

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When No Filter was officially out I began to feel like I wasn't good enough and that the entire thing was a giant mistake. With negative Amazon reviews that I took personally, to being told the first three day sales were a bit lower than expected so I hadn't made a chart position  - the sudden rush of 'I've failed' hit me. I'm not usually one to concentrate on numbers but in this instance, it was pretty important to sell. I started to question if I'd done enough and pondered on what I could've done differently. I agonised myself with constant shoulds and woulds and I hated the fact that I had probably disappointed so many people. Publishers pay an awful lot of money for book advances and all I could think about was that mine would be angry at me. It was a really difficult time and a time that
brought me great shame and dismay.

Whenever anyone would ask me 'oooo how's the book going?', I would die a little inside, put on a fake smile and reply with 'yeah, really good', which in my mind was a complete lie. I also think the unknown played a massive part in feeling like I had failed. I didn't really know what made a book successful and No Filter would unfortunately, but naturally be compared to the success of other books created by vloggers.

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Shop My Look

High Neck Top | New Look (similar)
Checked Skirt | ASOS
Thigh High Boots | ASOS
Fur Bag | Zara (similar)
Lipstick | Smashbox Action Cream Lipstick

 

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Nobody likes to feel like they have failed and even admitting this publicly makes me feel vulnerable. I however feel its important for my own personal growth, as well as transparency for my dedicated followers, that I talk about these sorts of things.

My book is SUCH a big achievement for me and something that not a lot of people get to do. I am so lucky and happy I was able to publish No Filter - even if the 'numbers' don't reflect the amount of work and emotional pain that went into writing it.

I am trying my hardest to allow this experience and feeling of failure to humble me and help me to develop into a better person. A positive out of this though, is that I have realised that success means different things to different people - releasing a book that inspires and gives hope to people is success to me - sales or not.

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In hindsight I haven't exactly failed and I've probably been too hard on myself. I'm a workaholic and I try to do things to the very best of my ability. The publishing world is way out of my comfort zone but I did it anyway and I produced something I'm proud of. My critical voice can sometimes get the better of me, but that's only because I want to do well  - although I now know you can't do well at everything lol.

I sometimes wish my job didn't rely so heavily on numbers because it can really affect your self worth at times. Nonetheless - No Filter is my greatest achievement this year and I'd like to say a massive thank you to those of you that have bought it. I appreciate the support SO much and words will never express just how grateful I am. If you are yet to purchase your copy of No Filter - do so here.

usezzzzzeeee

13 Comments

  1. 23rd October 2017 / 6:34 pm

    I am STUNNED as an outsider, as I honestly had no idea you were dealing with this and felt like this. Take it from me babe, you are a HUGE success and you should be so so proud. There are so many of us that are proud of you! You’ve done absolutely amazing, never ever forget that!

    Jemma x

  2. 23rd October 2017 / 7:46 pm

    You are a huge success and so many of us are extremely proud of you! No Filter is an amazing book, one that I’ve read many times since it’s release and it’s a book that I never get bored of reading! The book has really helped me over the last few months so thank you. Keep being you babe, we all love you for who you are! x

  3. 23rd October 2017 / 9:21 pm

    I don’t know if you’ll read this but honestly, you are NOT a failure. Selling even one copy of a published book is a massive achievement let alone how ever many you have. I’ve read your book and what you have dealt with and overcome to publish such a raw and heartfelt book is truly inspiring so even though you may feel a failure, you are definitely not. You have helped so many people and I imagine that is far more than any fictional book would do… xx

  4. 23rd October 2017 / 10:04 pm

    I think you were defiantly too hard on yourself! The book market is very hard to beak into and especially when you concentrate so completely on the numbers.

    You did really well with this book and you still can 🙂 every book that’s published sits on a shelf in a bookshelf or gets added to a library so readers can discover them years after being published

    Mel // meleaglestone.co.uk

  5. Ellie
    23rd October 2017 / 10:14 pm

    Just got to say, I bought and read your book in August and loved it. I work with young people (13-16 year olds) who have to deal with domestic abuse, mental health problems, classism, racism and body shaming. The whole time i was reading the book all i could think about was how amazing it would be for them to hear your story, as someone who has grown up like them and struggled with similar things and turned into such an incredible person who’s done so much.
    You have done a great and powerful thing by creating and publishing this book, so thank you.

  6. 24th October 2017 / 7:25 am

    Numbers can’t measure the impact or influence of sharing your story. I’m raising funds and awareness for Beat as part of a £40k fundraising challenge and have been recommending your book to my friends. I will be making sure my daughters read your harrowing but inspirational story to help educate them for their own sake and to arm them with information that will help them look out for their friends.

  7. Pam
    24th October 2017 / 10:09 am

    So brave opening up on something like this. Numbers aren’t everything, publishing a book is still a major accomplishment!
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  8. 24th October 2017 / 4:41 pm

    You really shouldnt be too hard on yourself especially with what you wrote, achieved and shared with the world. You sharing you and being bare to everyone is an achievement in itself. Honestly I had to stop and start reading it at times as even I got really emotional with bits in the book. Its a great read and a great insight of what you went through which can help many other women and young girls going through similar situations.

    To me you are my inspiration and idol and your rawness and realness with yourself and the world has made me want to become a better blogger and person. If I can achieve even half of the person you have become and are I know I am on my way.

    Keep believing in yourself and never doubt .

    You are my inspo and always will be xx

  9. Sarah
    24th October 2017 / 5:39 pm

    I think that society does us a huge injustice in terms of how we are sold ‘success’; what it means and how we achieve it. Behind every success is a lot of trial and error – failure in other words. Sweden’s Museum of Failure only proves this, what we see on the shelves as commercial successes come from places that have products in this museum (Colgate, Kodak, Apple etc.) The psychologist behind it said “Innovation requires failure. Learning is the only process that turns failure into success.” I really believe that you cannot succeed without failing, it’s part of the process and a good thing.
    I don’t mean that your book isn’t a success, I think success is measured in significance not money, but I do mean that we all need to get behind the idea that failure isn’t a negative largely because it isn’t an end point. If we all accept that and cheerfully talk about our journeys then the self-pressure will recede. I’m wearing a jumper I made myself, it rocks, it also went through about ten redesigns and was ripped out about thirty times before I got there. But nobody can tell, all they see is the success.

  10. Z. Roula Eatrides
    24th October 2017 / 8:40 pm

    It’s all about the journey, not the destination! It’ll be a part of your entire body of work in the end! 💞💞 You’re brilliant, stop doubting yourself!

  11. Karen
    24th October 2017 / 10:28 pm

    I love your blog and I would LOVE to order your book. Do you know when Amazon will sell it in the U.S.?

  12. Poppy Ball
    25th October 2017 / 4:14 pm

    I have yet to buy a copy of your book, due to not having the funds to do so at the moment however I have wanted to and will do so when I can.
    I am sorry you felt like this, because as you said it is a massive, massive achievement! And regardless of the sales, you are breaking out and branching out the diversity of “vlogger” books. The problem is we are told we *fail* when we don’t meet a certain criteria and that in turn means we aren’t successful, however that is not how success should be.. It was a new venture for yourself, and an amazing one at that. I don’t believe there could be success without some sense of failure, as because then what are we succeeding at? There will always be negative comments, because it will not be some people’s cup of tea – that is not a reflection on you though.

    I have done and will continue to look up to you and follow your journey, because it is an incredible one at that and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for you.💜

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