We all are disappointed when we miss an objective, but did we really do what was needed to reach it?
Working towards success is a bit like riding a bike. First, you need to get on the bike, preferably a good one. Actually, first, you’ll need to make sure your bike is ready to roll, adjust the saddle and lights, check the brakes, chain, and tires. Then, you get on the bike.
You’ll also need to pedal, and not too slow, otherwise you’ll just stay in the same spot and fall/fail miserably. You will then put your bike into the right gear depending on the difficulty. Get the wrong gear and you’ll overtire yourself for no reason; either using way too much energy on an easy road or struggling on steep paths. Finally, you’ll need to keep in mind where you are trying to go otherwise, all this effort will be for nothing. You’ll end up going in circles, backwards or in a totally useless direction.
But what does riding a bike have to do with your book project? Well like riding your bike, you will first need to set your objectives and always keep them in mind. You’ll also need to put in some effort to get to your destination. And you’ll have to adapt your plan and ideas to get there the best way possible. And, finally, you won’t be able to just wish yourself somewhere, you’ll need to take the journey.
And while this applies to your book project, it is actually relevant for pretty much anything. The one universal pitfall is: we confuse sticking to an objective with sticking with the plan to get there.The final objective is the most important thing, and the plan should always adapt, evolve and learn to arrive at this objective.
Keep the focus on YOUR objective
Not what other people expect. Not what people want your objective to be. Not what people imagine you are trying to do. But what you want to achieve. Have you actually asked yourself: why am I publishing my book? Really — why are you putting your book out there and not just shelved somewhere in your home? Answering this question is extremely important: it will drastically change how you will publish your book, and all the effort you put into doing so. Make sure you answer this question before anything.
Are you trying to make money with your talent? Do you have a story to share with people who might connect with it? Are you looking for fame in the literary world? Do you want to promote your expertise in a specific field? Do you just feel like freeing your words from your own mind? There are hundreds of different reasons to publish a book, and defining yours is the first step to building your publishing plan. You cannot have a plan without an objective.
Patience and humility + speed and pride
This is the tricky part: the road to success (i.e. reaching your objective) is a combination of seemingly opposite characteristics. You need be proud and quick: sell you service proudly and be sure to believe in yourself. If you aren’t proud of the objective you’re trying to reach, who is going to believe in it and help you? Plus, you need to be proactive, act fast and efficiently. Don’t overdo it so much that you become ill, it’s probably not worth it, but you will have to work to get to your objective. If you do nothing, nothing will happen.
I recently saw, in my suggested Medium posts, the following title: “Nearly Everything That Generates Enduring Value Requires Effort, Focus, And Discomfort
” My first instinct was to get annoyed: yeah right, you don’t always need to suffer to succeed and be happy. But I read the title again, and again, and I changed my mind a bit and actually read the post
. I still don’t quite agree with everything, but was interested in a subheading “Purposeful direction is everything”. The result will always be aligned with what effort you put in, but most importantly: Don’t lose focus. If you exert a whole lot of effort in the wrong direction, you’ll get an unexpected, and, in most cases, undesired result.
Finally, you must work at every aspect of your enterprise: I often see people working hard to market a book that could really do with some more work to make it a good book. Even more often, I see the opposite: people working extra hard to make sure they have a good book, but who then decide that marketing is not something they want to do, and consequently don’t make any effort to get it out there and publicize it.
Making an effort doesn’t just mean working hard, it also means adapting, constantly learning and being ready to give up an idea when it’s proven wrong. That’s where we often go wrong. We get stubborn with our plan, when it’s our objective we should keep in mind. There is always room to grow. A whole lot of people know more about what you are trying to achieve than you do. Listening to their advice is important. This is where humility and willingness to adapt come into play. So yes, ok: effort, focus and discomfort. I see it now.
We are often too proud to accept what we originally planned is actually not the best way to reach our objective. We also are sometimes afraid that by changing our plan, we are giving up on our objective. The only thing to keep in mind is the end goal. The rest can change for the better, even up to the final moment before your target is reached. When you spend energy on a goal, or when you decide what you are trying to reach, there is a time where you’ll want it, and want it now.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient and humble enough to understand your daily success, however small, is a real success. The last consequence of this universal pitfall (confusing plan with objective) is we often completely forget what we are working for, and then are disappointed when the result isn’t what we worked for. The reason the result isn’t what you worked for is because, in reality, you didn’t work for it; you worked towards something else.
Align expectations with the work you do
Once you decide on an objective, you’ll build a plan. And along the way, your objective will probably change. Either because you actually changed your project, or because you were influenced by events, setbacks, situations or other people’s experiences. Then, when at the end of the plan you don’t reach this new objective (because the stuck to the plan for your first objective and didn’t adapt), you get disappointed. Reality check: did you really think you would get to a point you were not aiming at?
One day, while you are publishing your book because you just wanted to share your story, you’ll read about a writer who earned $50K in a day and you’ll say: “hey, that’s what I want!” Of course, who’s going to say no to $50K? However, is it really what you wanted with this book? Is this book a “earn $50K in a day” book? If it is really what you now want — you are allowed to change your mind after all — don’t forget that this is a completely new objective that will require an entirely new plan!
I see writers falling into these traps every day, and I have actually had the same experience when launching services or building projects. I find forgetting one’s objective is actually rather common, and most of the time, it’s just because we are so focused on executing the plan. Something to bear in mind when publishing.
- This post was originally published in a shorter version on selfpublishingadvice.org
- To go further on your publishing plan, check out this mini-guide taking you step by step on your publishing journey:
AC de Fombelle, international communication manager for StreetLib
, writes for authors and publishers around the world to help them figure out the Ins and Outs of publishing. She guides them on their journey with StreetLib.