A few years ago I submitted an essay to a Funds for Writers contest. The challenge was to plan an exciting year in the life of your project. I thought it would be fun to draft a dynamic marketing plan for Chasing Sylvia Beach. I figured if I had to do the work of promoting a book, I might as well make it as creative as possible.
With brio, I generated tons of ideas about how I would get the word out. It was fun to let my imagination run free. I didn’t win the contest, but I left with a larger-than-life vision for the promotion of my novel.
Over the years, I hyped up the project with the aim of hitting Amazon bestseller lists. Then social media marketing exploded, and so did the plans. Facebook! Twitter! I even conceived of a scintillating idea to give away a weekend trip to Paris.
My fun marketing plan was now a monster, and one I had no hope of controlling.
Owning my launch
For all creators, there’s this moment where the rubber meets the road. This is the place where we truly ‘get’ that there’s a real limit to what one can do with one’s time, energy and attention.
Sometimes when we’re daunted by the scope of our vision, we abandon it altogether. But learning how to scale back is vital. The dynamism of our ideas demands both structure and flexibility.
A few months out to launch, the more anxious I became. The more I realized I couldn’t possibly execute on all my great ideas.
A breakthrough session with my business mentor helped me see where I could scale back. With more attention to my own agenda and goals for the book (not someone else’s), I was able to focus on what was important in this launch.
It was important to me to enjoy the process as much as possible. My intention was to be focused and open to the wonderful surprises awaiting me on the other side of publication.
More relieved than disappointed, I started to embrace a sane book launch.
Even with this new and liberating perspective, I struggled to keep my focus on my own agenda.
I was still spending too much time trying to follow others’ leads. Any time I needed to do something – write a press release, write back cover copy, come up with a blog tour plan – I’d do copious research about the ‘best’ way to do it.
Every time, I’d spend 20 minutes researching and then abandoning the thread. Overwhelmed, confused, disheartened, I’d not only lose the connection to my own original impulse, I felt incapable of doing it the way I was supposed to.
A call with my mastermind partner helped re-orient me. She advised me to unplug, step away from all the advice and how-tos, and get clear on what was meaningful for me.
Relief washed over me. Within an hour of our call, I found a solution to a challenge I’d been stumped by, and it wasn’t about Facebook at all.
Finally in the groove
At a party the other night, sipping a Fat Tire and munching on tapas. Conversation turned toward me when someone asked, “What are you up to?”
“I’m launching my novel this summer!” I replied with enthusiasm. We talked about it for a little while and then the conversation moved on. A friend turned to me and said “You seem so calm, so Zen!”
I thought about how stressed out I had been in recent months. How much emotional churn I had gone through as the launch date approached. How twice a day unbidden, this thought lurches its way into my consciousness, “OH MY GOD IT’S X WEEKS AWAY!”
This is a visceral thought/fear/impulse that rises up and passes away. If I jump on it, I’ll start squirreling away with all the details. And then I’ll spend my time feeling fearful and stressed.
When I am anxious, my mind is desperate for control. I start sending up thought flares, ordering to-dos and schedules. But the more I fuel the emotional churn with mental churn, the more miserable I am. This is the ever-faster treadmill feeling of overwhelm we know all too well.
This was when I realized, at that well-earned Sunday evening party that this is the moment I’ve been building toward since I started writing this book in 1999.
This is the time of my life. I get to see the fruits of my creative labor meet my audience and have an impact.
This is it.
I’m not going to blow this precious time by making myself insane. I’m not gunning for the best-seller list. I’m not pushing to promote my book like mad in the first three months of its life. I’m not attached to how people will receive this book. (I will keep telling myself that until I believe it!)
My focus now is to enjoy the process of preparing my work for its debut. I consider it a gift I sincerely give to the world.
Chasing Sylvia Beach officially launches on June 22nd, 2012. The pre-sale Limited Edition is available from June 11th – 21st. Get your copy from the author here.