- The Most Specific Generic Self-Publishing Advice I’ll Ever Give You
- Episode 1: Write A Good Book
- Episode 2: Set Yourself Up for Success
- Episode 3: Build A Platform
- Episode 4: Use Social Meda
- Episode 5: Don’t Be Afraid to Promote
- Episode 6: Design Matters
- Episode 7: Use “Drip” Marketing
- Episode 8: Offline Marketing
- Episode 9: Online Marketing
We talked last week about writing a great book. It might seem weird, then, to talk about planning, preparing, and setting things up after that, but I still think that writing a great book is so important it should get talked about first.
So, then, what is success? Obviously it’s a point we all want to reach. If we’re already there, we want stay there as long as possible.
But before we can really get there we need to define it.
You, as an author, need to define what “success” means to you and for your career. You need to have an idea in your mind of what it looks like to be “successful,” whether that’s selling a million books, becoming known as an author, having a book in Walmart, or whatever.
Once you take some time to figure that part out, you need to write it down. It’s crucial that your idea of success becomes a goal; something that permeates through everything you do, and something you’re constantly working toward.
Figure out what the “end game” is, and write it down. After that, jump into these “success-building” steps:
1. Plan your route.
Decide on the best route toward your goal of success. It can be the “standard” way (whatever you perceive to be standard), or it can be a more untraditional journey. Whatever the case, again, write it down. Here’s an abridged example of my written “success goal” and its constituent parts:
Success means making my living writing full-time. The route I’m taking to get there is to build a platform online, find people who want to hear what I have to say and help them, in turn building my readership and fan base. I hope to continue selling books, mainly in electronic (ebook) format through Amazon.com, until my reach and exposure grows enough to declare it a full-time opportunity. In dollar terms, this means between $4,000 – $5,000 each month from book sales).
See how concise and clear that is? This isn’t a business plan, but it very well could be the vision/mission statement of one.
Don’t spend too much time on this step, as you’ll probably find yourself adding things that really aren’t part of your plan — don’t add words for the sake of making the challenge more difficult.
This “mini-plan” is like your vision for your writing career — it doesn’t cover every little thing, but it’s a pretty good barometer and measuring stick. Make sure you’ve provided yourself some clear-cut numbers if possible. There’s nothing like hard data to motivate you and help stay on track!
2. Set up your buckets.
I use the word buckets here to describe how you’ll “catch” people in your net and build your readership. Since you’re writing to please, entertain, enlighten, and/or educate people, you know you’ll need to figure out a way to keep them close at hand.
Buckets, set up strategically throughout your on and offline networks, are a great way to do this. For example:
- Build a website. If you need help, hire someone, but get it done. It’s usually the first (and sometimes last) place people will go to find your work.
- Use social media to point back to your Home Base. We’ll talk more about this in a later episode, but for now just stick it in the “bucket-building” plan.
- Figure out if you’ll do a lot of offline marketing. Will you be hosting book signings, tours, or attending conferences? If so, what hard marketing collateral (bookmarks, postcards, copies of your manuscript/paperbacks) will you need to bring with? How will you get people to sign up for more information from you?
- Set up a mailing list. Hands down, this is the best outreach tool I’ve ever used. It’s a double opt-in list, meaning people get asked twice if they really want in. That helps keep the list full of people who really, truly want to hear from me, and most are okay with me hawking something (like a book!) at them every once in a while, so long as I keep the rest of the mailings in the majority and offer a lot of value. I use MailChimp and love it, and it’s totally free up to 2,500 subscribers.
Your buckets are crucial to your success, unless “success” for you means “writing happily in obscurity until death.” A bit morbid, admittedly, but true nonetheless. Ignore your buckets at your peril.
3. Visualize success.
Literally. If that means you need to print out a wall calendar (I use a huge whiteboard, hung directly in front of my desk), do it. I have a little Moleskine notebook that I carry just about everywhere, letting me keep track of thoughts, inspiration, and of course, goals that fit into my larger success goal.
Also, take the time to learn a good task-management methodology. I recommend David Allen’s Getting Things Done, because it doesn’t require any fancy apps or programs, and you can buy it in book format. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably find out task-management is kind of fun, and the weekly “brain dump” you do will often be the most invigorating part of your week.
After you do get acquainted with something like GTD, it can be extremely helpful to use an app or computer program to aid. Again, I use GTD, in the form of Things, an app for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. It’s an absolutely gorgeous app (a big deal for an Apple fanboy like me!), but it also handles my GTD system in a perfectly streamlined, helpful, and unobtrusive way.
Visualizing isn’t just about “seeing victory in your head,” like those great kung-fu movies of yesteryear would have us think. It’s about more than that — literally seeing success everywhere around us. I have reminders of what success looks like right in front of me this minute:
Everyone’s different, but you probably already know what you need to do to “visualize” your version of success wherever you can. Get started putting those reminders and systems in place, and you’ll find that motivation and productivity tend to take care of themselves more often than not!
Finally — be willing to reassess.
Don’t be afraid to reassess your situation every now and then — actually, most productivity pundits would recommend it. Take some time every quarter, six months, year — whatever — and reanalyze what you’ve accomplished, and whether or not your definition of success needs to change.
I’ve reformatted my own definition of success plenty of times in life, and it’s served to keep me grounded in my daily life. At one point in time, I defined “success” as a touring musician, making millions from album sales! It was a great visualization tool, but it would have worked against the life I have now — I’ve since “updated” my definition, and I have a feeling I’ll do it again whenever life throws an unexpected curveball, or things just start to change rapidly (kids, etc.).
What do you think? How are you liking the series so far? Leave a comment, and don’t forget to check the current Ultimate Self-Publishing Books Giveaway contest!