I work with many different types of clients and one thing they all have in common is that they are very busy people who are up to something in the world. Most of the questions I get have to do with how to secure media coverage, how do we create more compelling and hooky titles and angles, and how do you handle the stress of it all? How do you keep so positive when it comes to publicizing and marketing books?
Keeping yourself in the spotlight can be challenging, but there are things you can do to keep yourself on track and moving forward, without all that overwhelm that some fall into on a fairly regular basis. Here are some common questions and comments:
Problem: How do you deal with overwhelm?
Here’s how I deal with overwhelm. I don’t let myself fall into it. Now before you think that sounds so Pollyannaish, let me interject that in order to do this, it requires that you pay attention to yourself and take breaks when you need to. This is not the time to power through.
Sometimes when on a roll and everything seems to be falling into place, I notice that at some point I will begin to feel tired. It seems like I should be happy and thrilled with all the productivity and successful placements going on, and I am for awhile, but one can only keep up that pace for so long, and then there is a natural and normal need to refresh or reboot. Some people ignore these signs. Bad idea.
At the first sign of those signals it is exactly the time to step away from the desk and go hit the gym, or if the weather is nice, I’ll take a run outside. Walks are good too, but the purpose is to get the heart rate up and get yourself moving so if you’re going to walk, you still have to move at a good pace for those wonderful endorphins kick into gear. Once I get back to the office and get showered, I’m ready to hit it again with the same enthusiasm as I had at the beginning of the day. Overwhelm does not have a chance to set in.
Practice: Pay attention to how you’re feeling as you’re working on your book or project. Really begin to notice when you feel your energy beginning to slip. Then take action. Do something completely different from your normal workday activities
Prepare yourself by having a document on your computer or taped to your desk with a list of things you like to do while you’re on a break. Go someplace and get a cup of coffee. Take a walk or a run. Clean out a closet or your car. Meditate. Sit quietly and watch your breath. Play with your cat or dog. Go feed the birds. Depending on the time of year, go pull some weeds in the garden.
Personally, I don’t like to make this break a time for eating because it’s too easy to consume more calories that the body needs. If you’re feeling a little tired, it’s easy to try to change how you feel through food. Another bad idea. I find anything physical works wonders, and not only do you not ingest a bunch of extra calories, but you actually burn a few off. Figure out what works best for you. The idea is to be refreshed when you come back to the work at hand.
Problem: Sometimes I feel depressed because I don’t seem to be getting anywhere.
Publicity works in waves. Sometimes it does seem like all you do is send out pitches with nothing coming back in return. “When am I going to get a ‘yes’?” I understand this more than you know. You must remember that responses will come back. The wave will roll back in again and this is the time for faith. You will get responses, but not necessarily in the time frame that you want to see it. An old movie called Postcards from the Edge had a line in it I will never forget: “The problem with instant gratification is that it isn’t quick enough!” When it comes to publicity, patience is a virtue. Hang in there; it will happen.
Practice: You need to find ways to remain positive about the publicity and marketing of your book, especially if you’re feeling a little discouraged. If it isn’t time to take a physical break (see point #1), then tune into what you’re saying to yourself. If you find yourself saying things like, “This is never going to work. I have spent so much time and money trying to make my dreams come true, and they haven’t come true yet. I’m never going to be in the New York Times. How can I possibly be good enough to appear on national TV? Maybe this is not my destiny. Maybe the Universe is trying to tell me something, such as it’s time to quit.”
Now that kind of self talk is lethal. It can derail you forever. Listen to what is going on inside yourself and when you catch yourself saying something unpleasant and negative, stop yourself! Just say, “STOP!” Out loud. Who cares if someone hears you? This is your mind and your brain; it is time to take control of it. This is a time for asking questions, such as: “What is my best next action? What can I do right now that will move things in a positive direction?” Who could I contact right now who will likely book me for an interview? Or maybe you could ask, “What words of support can I say to myself right now that will help me to stay positive?” Or, you could call someone who loves you. Hearing his or her voice may make a big difference. Many people use affirmations, but I find questions to be much more powerful. “Who do I have to be right now in order to believe I can be on a national TV show? Who do I have to become to meet my dreams?” And then step into that vision.
Look I know this is challenging. When it comes to getting our books out into the world, it seems like it should just happen. Sometimes we look at other people and think, “It’s so easy for them.” Let me tell you something. Everyone goes through this. You just have to keep going with persistence and determination, and you will get there.
Tip: Create a Success Board. I have a white board hanging on the wall in my office and every time something good happens, I write it on that broad. You will be amazed at how quickly the list builds. Then when you do hit a lull during the day just look up at that broad and drink it in. You have more success coming. Just keep going.
Problem: I want to do everything all at once, but now I’m almost paralyzed. I don’t know where to begin.
This is far too common. It’s almost epidemic in our culture–procrastination. Have you ever noticed how no one ever procrastinates to procrastinate? Actually, that would be a very good thing to do…put off procrastinating.
Practice: Create a simple, easy, doable plan. One that feels good and that you know you can manage. Then get to it. This plan may be the overall plan for your book campaign. (Hint: Start with the end in mind and work your way backwards.) Then create a plan for each piece of the campaign: annually (if appropriate), quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily. Be very, very clear each day what the most important actions are to take that will keep you moving forward. Don’t make the mistake of creating a huge “to do” list and fanaticizing that today is the day you’re going to get it all done. It’s fine to write everything down, but accept that fact that there is no way that you’re going to get it all done and focus in on the top three. I like to say, “Get these three things done today, and the rest is gravy.”
As I said at the beginning of this post, sometimes the best next action is to take a break. Tune into yourself and listen to what you’re saying and how you’re feeling. If you notice your energy dipping, then go and do something else until you can come back to your publicity efforts with a fresh outlook filled with energy. That’s what it takes to market your book and enjoy the process. Why shouldn’t you enjoy it? It’s your life’s work and your passion. Sharing it with the world is the best next step.
In part two I’ll get into more of the specifics of what exactly you can do to publicize your book once you are in a great frame of mind.