One of the issues of being a modern day author, in my opinion, is that we think in too many absolutes. We channel through the cultural pushes, following mainstream “anything” like it’s taking us somewhere important. We follow stupid trends that truly lead nowhere. In life, we follow ball teams (I know I do!) and in the end, they either win or lose, yet another day springs forth. Did anything good happen for us?
In the business of writing, we listen to the talking heads (of which, granted, I am one) and we follow. But where does this all take us? Do we see the results of which we dream, or do we only snag a portion or pittance of what we hoped for?
Writing is such a crazy business. There stand so many people shouting from social media high points to do this, and follow that, and like this and share that, and in the end, we often spend money on something which will not deliver our dreams.
This is not intended to be a pessimistic, downer post. On the contrary, finding your way in writing should be a journey of excitement. What I hope to do here is jerk you out of the herd mentality for a moment and consider the prospect that you own the knowledge of how to be successful with your book already. Like anything, though, great success takes great effort, perseverance, and often luck or good fortune.
I’ve had the good fortune to meet and know many wise and forward thinking people. While I do know some things in life, there are many I do not know. In the last paragraph, I mentioned writing “should be a journey of excitement.” Have you been to the Haunted House at Disney World? A thousand times like me? Are you excited anymore? Does anything frighten you anymore?
What excites you? Knowing everything that’s going to happen? Knowing the exact path the roller coaster is going to whip you around in Space Mountain? Or is it the unknowing? The surprise. The struggle against what you think you see and to find what is actually going to happen? Most of us will fall into these last few categories.
You want to market your book and get a lot of people reading it? Half-hearted stabs at social media won’t do it (I’ve tried). Cold book signings where you set up a table and sit there won’t get it done. I could list hundreds of things which do not work, yet we do them all the time. The one resonating piece of advice which echoes within me constantly is “make yourself uncomfortable.” Challenge yourself to do something outside the norm. For me, it’s been public speaking and teaching workshops.
As I continue moving forward, I find successes, no matter how frail, carries the characteristics of those two items, “make yourself uncomfortable,” and “challenge yourself to do something outside the norm.” What does that look like? I cannot tell you. Each person is different. I do know this, when you challenge yourself and you step out of mainstream and into something a bit different, good things happen. Only you may determine what those things are.
Most writers get too concerned about selling books. People tend to buy writers, not books. People want to know you. The want to know how you wrote the book, why you wrote the book, when you wrote the book. That sort of thing. They desire a connection. I’m not saying you refuse a sale, but what you really want is an impression. When you leave a positive impression on people, they will be more inclined to talk about you and your book once they’re out among their peeps.
Ultimately, this means you cannot be phony. No false face for the readers. Be genuine. Be yourself. Be bold enough to stand up present them with the person you’ve grown into. Don’t run and hide behind facade. Facades are absolutes. You see them everywhere. You see people putting on faces they wish not to be. You see so many folk going through the motions. Following the mainstream. Following like lemmings.
Step out. Fight against the constant barrage of advertising which channels you along with millions of others. We all fall prey to it. We get manipulated every single day. Be someone who stands out. Offer something without a catch. Without a string attached. Offer people a piece of who you are. Get them talking about you. These are some of the actions I see benefiting authors. The authors who step into who they are without apology and move forward in ways which challenge them, tend to be the authors I see getting great speaking gigs and selling books.
If you look and sound like everyone else, you will be lost in the din. Find your authentic self and push forward. Frightening? Yes. That’s when you know you’re on the right track. Exciting? Absolutely.