Earlier this week I had a phone conversation that made me realize something that, to be honest, has been dogging me for quite some time now; I finally get it’s about time for me to “suck it up” and finish writing the book I began four (five? more?) long years ago…
The conversation was with Paul Smith, a speaker and author I recently discovered after he posted a remarkable story online about how a letter written by his father moved him to quit his job to become a full-time speaker, trainer and author. Because his story had so many similarities to my current situation, I thought I’d reach out and ask him for a bit of advice, so I sent him a message, which he quickly returned, and we set a time and date to talk.
When we spoke on the phone, Paul was very kind, listened carefully to my questions and answered them generously with sound, solid business advice. He gave me a lot of encouragement; and to be honest, it felt great to speak to someone so like-minded and passionate as I am about changing the world through speaking and training. But of everything he said, one singular thing stuck out for me; and if I’m being honest, it was something I’d heard before but had clearly forgotten. He said that his #1 marketing tool are his two books; and that these brought in almost all of his speaking and training engagements, more so than everything else combined. This advice reminded me of why I began writing a book in the first place – it was because I’d heard this exact same advice at a business seminar many years ago, and heeded it… at least to the first draft stage.
You see, for years now I’ve wanted to be on stage, professionally speaking and/or training on the topics of personal development, leadership and all around “good living strategies” and getting this advice at a huge seminar (bloated with over 800 participants) was the result of me asking the same question I was able to ask Paul in a one-on-one conversation… what’s the best way to market yourself?
Deja Vu: Now I was hearing this exact same advice again, but here’s the difference: This time it came from a REAL published author, rather than from someone reading a script on a stage; an author who researched his first book for two years before getting an agent, and then shopping his book out to publishers – a gauntlet that includes facing several rejections prior to being accepted, or published. (Judging by the overwhelming success of his book, clearly this publisher saw something the first seven didn’t, but now probably wish they did!) In other words, Paul has earned the right to share this opinion since he’s “been there, done that”, and this is why his advice is so important to me. Also, I must say that listening to his journey was pretty overwhelming; and to be honest, it’s not the same route I’d ever planned to take, since my goal was always to self-publish, and here’s why – Just hearing all the trials and tribulations of his story – especially all the rejection – made me cringe with terror, and highlighted the fact that I’ve always known I’m way too much of a lightweight to handle going this route – hence self-publishing is the road I’ll be taking.
But the point about having a “published book” itself was not lost on me; and, once I hung up the phone (or to be realistic, pushed the “off” button) I began staring up at the mock book cover that’s been on my goals board for the past 4 years, paying specific attention to the crossed-out dates that signified the many missed deadlines I’d set to actually put this puppy to bed, once and for all. I think that perhaps before this conversation, I simply didn’t see the value in finishing the book; I mean to be honest, being my first attempt ever at writing, some parts are really pretty poorly written, not to mention that it lacks “flow” in a few spots… but then again, I’ve done a fair bit of writing since those early days, and certainly have learned a lot more about the language as a whole, sentence structure, and a few tricks to make me sound like I have some idea what I’m doing… I guess the bottom line is that I’ve spent the past 4 or 5 years learning how to be a writer; now it’s time to clean up this manuscript, and get it published, especially as with my new business in development it will actually serve a purpose. That is a purpose other than being something to say at cocktail parties, you know, like “Me? Oh, I’m writing a book” to try and sound smart, witty and sophisticated… cue slurp of martini…
Okay, it’s decided. I’m going to set an deadline (Dec 31st, 2015 or before) and begin to tackle this behemoth project once again; only this time with a full intention to actually get it finished. Because let’s face it: Now that I’m no longer working outside the house (Yes, like any good house
wife husband I count doing the dishes, the laundry, housecleaning, cooking the meals and shopping as work) I can make time for this project, right?
So wish me luck, and I guess we’ll check back in 11.3 months and see if this inspiration was really the kick in the pants I needed to finally get this monkey – er, potentially brilliant manuscript – off my back, once and for all. Then imagine what I’ll be able to say at those cocktail parities – “Me? What do I do? Not much: I’m only the new Hemingway!” I wish..!
For more on Paul Smith and his two books, please check out his website here.