You've gotten yourself neck deep into marketing and the lag time between effort and results is weighing on you. After doing press releases and querying to be on podcasts or do guest blog there you are, waiting to hear back from dozens of reviewers, finding out your advertising contact at the magazine never got your email, and last year’s hot gimmick that worked to get readers interested in written work is dead.
Suddenly you realize your motivation is wholly gone.
As an author, there’s a guaranteed outcome with submissions. Your manuscript will be accepted, or it will be rejected and you can move on. Either way, it comes to a conclusion.
For publishers it’s a long haul going through the acquisitions process, dealing with editing and revisions, creating the interior layout and cover, and eventually getting print-ready files to the printers and making corrections based on the proof copies. In the end, though, you’ve created a product.
Marketing isn’t like that. You’re either doing publicity for an individual project, which can last for years, or you’re doing it for your brand which means it’s a career-long effort.
If you're like most people, the lure of a new project might already be teasing at you. It would be so easy to quit and go on to do something else. Getting motivated seems impossible. What do you do?
The problem is, as we've gotten so used to instant gratification larger projects or tasks can lose their impetus quickly – unless you can stay motivated once the newness wears off. So how do we do just that?
1. Remind yourself who’s the boss. Hey, remember back when you started this project? Yes, that was you that began it. Even if you’re feeling powerless right now, the truth of the matter is, you were the one who stepped into this, and it’s still your decision about what to do next. That means that whether you decide to quit, change direction, or keep moving forward, it up to you to make the decision. That rewrites the script to put yourself back in charge.
“If you are rude to somebody on the road you’re jeopardizing your brand” was the argument of an article I read once. That got my attention. The writer pointed out authors are in and of themselves businesses so every action they take in public is some form of branding.
For a moment that shook me. Then, after some rumination, that dread metamorphosed into a super-charged revelation. You are a Boss, making Boss-level decisions. In video game terms: why would you ever position yourself as a Grunt when you are by rights a Level Boss?
A lot of us with experience in the workforce dreamed long and hard about even just having the autonomy to make our own decisions, to not have to own somebody else’s failures while also not being able to always take credit for your own work.
Even just being a publisher or novelist or freelancer is already a dream come true in so many ways because it means we can finally say, “No this doesn’t work for me.”
Or, “This is good, but let’s put it on pause so we can add this other thing that will make it so much better.”
Or, “Okay, I’m willing to invest this much more for a chance at the result I’m trying to get.”
2. Take a look back. Sometimes we get so caught up in staring at where we are right now that we’re failing to see the progress we’ve already made. Taking the time to recall the steps along the way that you’ve already accomplished goes a long way toward improving your mood, especially when you see how far you’ve already come.
Also, remind yourself of the other projects you’ve finished. You’ve done great things before; you can do them again! Even if you haven’t done something similar in the past, chances are you’ve taken on a project that had multiple steps to achieve a goal. Looking at those kinds of accomplishments reminds you that you can accomplish big things — and have.
It still blows me away when I sign up for a store membership club or to receive a receipt by email, and the cashier looks up with surprise to exclaim, “You have your own website with your name and everything?”
At first, it felt amazing having JohnLawson.org. Then the newness wore off; it became just another footnote in my career like, well, of course I have a website with my own dedicated email address…that’s a given, isn’t it? Who doesn’t? Contemplating that was the same as contemplating breathing.
Or is it? I take for granted having novels, and short story collections, and poetry collections, and receiving interview requests out of the blue or being asked to be guest of honor at industry events — all things that I once dreamed about.
Going back to those moments when I thought, “what if this could happen in my life?” and then following that with fully immersing myself in remembering the first time it happened for me, such as the first time seeing an ad for my book in print, that still brings back the butterflies in my stomach. The result is a crucial surge of energy where it feels like things are possible, and that it’s worth taking every step to make them happen.
3. Remember why you’re doing this. The problem with staring a project in the face for too long is that you get so hyper-focused on the task at hand that you’ve forgotten why you’re there. Why did you choose this project? Ask yourself what goal are you trying to reach.
Remember the dream.
And then remind yourself of this often. By taking a step back and looking at the big picture, you’ll be able to recapture that initial excitement that led you to take on the project in the first place.
Keeping a writing journal or business idea book really helps with this. I make a point of regularly looking back at my old journals and seeing the goals I set for myself. This lets me examine the transformations I hoped to achieve in my life.
Publicity is the cornerstone at every stage of these transformations when it comes to publishing, whether it’s being visible enough to get an agent or garnering reviews that increase discoverability in your target library market.
A lot of the authors I’ve published had the specific goal of being able to one day see their book on the shelves in a bookstore, be it a massive chain store or a corner shop the size of your bedroom. The enthusiasm they share with me when they experience this as a result of a signing I helped arrange, or just randomly visiting a retailer, is so rewarding.
And, just as importantly for me, it’s infectious.
When your team is stacking up wins, when your business partners are gaining momentum, when the people in the trenches with you are powering up, that’s when you get the most important inspiration. Why? Because it creates a positive feedback loop. But that’s a subject for another post.
For now, simply think about people close to you and the achievements they’ve made in their own lives. Recall the impact for them when they arrived at the destination they aimed for when they first began training for a new career, or saving up to move far away, or [insert a Big Thing of your choice here dear reader].
A long-term project like marketing in the publishing industry doesn’t have to lose its excitement just because the newness has worn off. By following these three steps, you can easily stay inspired as you go, thereby keeping up not only your energy but your momentum as well.
If that sounds like something you want to cultivate for yourself we offer tools to help you do that here in just 30 days.
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