Not long ago, I was coaching an entrepreneur who wanted to write a book. Every time I inquired about her progress, there was very little to show. She kept procrastinating and simply couldn’t follow through with the writing activities and prompts. She was perfectly clear about the topic she wanted to write about and knew the audience for her book. Her lack of enthusiasm for getting the book done and in print puzzled me.
“What’s really holding you back?” I asked.
“There’s so many books out there by experts. I don’t feel like I’m an expert enough on that topic. Who am I to write this kind of book?”
Recently, I attended a workshop on LinkedIn about how to use the network effectively. Prior to starting the training the presenter mentioned that in addition to helping clients with marketing, he had also written a children’s book. As someone who has written six (soon to be seven) children’s picture books, I was interested. After thumbing through his book, I asked if he knew about a trendy bookstore down the street that had a children’s section and often had events for emerging authors. He answered that he knew it but that when he approached the owners they weren’t interested in his book because it was self-published. I didn’t tell him that the same bookstore carries my books. They are self-published as well. Want to know my secret?
When I wrote my first book, Do No Work, I knew nothing about marketing. I thought announcing the book on my blog and emailing some friends and family on my list was enough for it to sell.
After I did those things, I expected to relax—champagne glass in one hand, cigar in the other—and watch the sales roll in. Every time I clicked refresh on my sales page the numbers would increase exponentially in some sort of impossible yet glorious parabolic curve.
It’s a phrase I hear almost daily from someone who has an idea for a business: “I’ll put it on the Internet.” I am flabbergasted by the number of seemingly reasonable, intelligent people who think that all they have to do is put their product or service “on the Internet” and then just wait for the money to roll in.
The opportunity of the Internet is that everyone buying anything goes there, whether it’s in the consumer arena or business to business. The great and almost incomprehensible challenge of the Internet is that everyone is also on there trying to sell something. It is the most crowded market in the universe.
The easy part is getting on the Internet. The hard part is having anyone know that you’re there. Everyone’s gaming the same search machines and using the same key words. It’s easy to be invisible in such a crowded space.
Last summer, after submitting the final manuscript for my book, I felt completely drained. While part of me was elated for having completed an eight month labor of love, other parts felt depleted. I poured everything into my book, and then the project was over.
“How the heck do you do everything you do?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question throughout my life.
Most people expect some simple answer that will fix that part of their life that causes sleepless nights, family fights, the “I wanna puke” feeling and worst of all, shame and emptiness.
Here’s the reality: Success has never been easy. It’s never happened overnight, and, without your best effort every stinkin’ day, it can’t happen!
CONFESSION. I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” I think this label is nothing more than a convenient excuse for us to delay our writing dreams.
Before you lock me up in the loony bin, let me peel off the mask by pull back the curtain. I wrote 6 traditionally published books, coached over 60 authors on their book projects, and ghostwrote 3 books for high-profile clients.
But I’ve also:
Justified watching movies to “research” for my next book.
Avoided a deadline because unloading the dishwasher seemed more thrilling.
Hit the disc golf course to find inspiration for my next chapter
Wasted more than a few days satisfying a “Platform Building Fix” on Facebook and Twitter.
Bottom line. All these activities seemed noble at the time. And yet, they merely created space between my current state and my calling.
Maybe you can relate?
This is supposed to be an article about how to be a focused and intentional writer. It’s supposed to equip busy people with tools and techniques to fit writing into an already full life.
- I could tell you to wake up at 5 a.m. and write for an hour. Do it every day, no matter what.
- I could tell you to write 1,000 words a day before you do anything else.
- I could tell you to write something even if you don’t know what to write.
- I could tell you to “write ugly” and clean it up later.
That’s all good advice and it might work, but it’s never worked for me.
I am a broken writer, yet somehow I’ve managed to complete two books.
Sounds so glamorous. I remember the first time I turned down an invitation to lunch with the words “Oh, I can’t… I’m writing today.”
“Really?” my friend Laurie replied, “what an awesome way to spend the day! I can’t wait to read your book!”
Nodding and smiling, I left her fantasy intact. I knew in my heart a “writing day” wasn’t just creativity flowing but sometimes meant hours of starting at the cursor blinking and trying to string some words together in a semblance of creativity, thought and inspiration. The myriad of other tasks on my to-do list wrestled with my discipline to actually write. It’s a sad state of affairs when cleaning the bathroom looks more enticing than squeezing out another paragraph from a very dry well.
As a two-time self-published author, I tell people writing the book is the easy part. Marketing it, that’s the hard part. There seems to be no right or wrong answer on which route to take.
Before I published my first book, I looked into all kind of expert advice. Some claimed giving away your book for free for a few days was key to success. Then I talked to others who told me not to do give it away but to price it high. Some suggested to price it at 99 cents. Plus, of course, there’s the matter of trying to decide between Amazon KDP Select or just Amazon KDP.
We all want our books to be successful. We want to help and inspire people. And, of course, we want to claim that bestseller spot while making a decent income in the process.