Overcoming the curse of overpreparing
Many years ago, I was part of a committee invested with the job of creating a new event for an organization in New York City. I was one of five women in this small group, each from diverse backgrounds, all with busy schedules. The Internet was in its infancy — this was long before Google Calendar or Doodle or MeetingWizard were around. We had to do things the old fashioned way: select a few times and then call each other until we hit on one that worked for everyone.
Once we had the meeting scheduled, we met at a restaurant one late afternoon. We ordered wine, and then we got to work. We decided on a name for the event. We chose several options for dates to run past the organization muckety-mucks. We planned a theme. We decided how we wanted to handle the food. We wrote an agenda and planned the speakers. We decided who else needed to be invited. We each took responsibility for one aspect of the event. We each had another glass of wine. And we were done.
The next time we met with our liaison for the organization, she asked how the event planning was coming. I thought she was going to fall off her chair when we told her it was all planned. Now this was a very nice woman. She was supremely skilled at her job and delightful to work with. She was not, however, efficient at organizing events or steering groups toward action. Her idea of progress was to call a meeting to discuss planning a meeting where we would get together to set a date for the meeting where we would decide when we would meet. So when she heard that we had scheduled a meeting, met, and accomplished our goal in one sitting, she was stunned.
Question for you: which one more resembles your marketing efforts? The group that was assigned a task, met, and accomplished the task, or the highly skilled woman who was terribly inefficient when it came to making progress in a group?
Overpreparing frequently shows up in candidates for job interviews and public speakers. The problem is that they can actually sabotage their own success by getting so caught up in getting ready to be ready that they fail to take a breath, rely on their skill, or demonstrate confidence. When it comes to book marketing, many authors hide behind the screen of overpreparing, which is usually just another word for procrastination.
In a discussion about social media, Barbara Chatzkel, a colleague and good friend of mine, said it well: “There will never be a perfect time, so you might as well start now.” The same can be said of your book marketing efforts.
Sure, we need to do some basics like identify our audience, know exactly what our book is about, and have a succinct answer as to why we wrote it. But much beyond that and we are apt to wade into over-preparing territory. You wrote the book, right? So you know the answers to these questions.
Where should you begin? With what works for you. Some authors enthusiastically embrace blogging, while others are not big fans. Some authors love Facebook and jump in with both feet; I have a client who steers clear of the most popular social network because it’s just not her thing. The best place to begin your book marketing campaign is via an avenue that meets two criteria: (1) you know it will help you reach your prospective readers and (2) it’s is within your reach.
NOTE: “Within your reach” doesn’t mean easy, free of fear, guaranteed, or without cost — it means something you can undertake now.
There’s only so much research you need to do. There are only so many times you can revise your calendar and only so many drafts of that first blog post you can justify. SOONER than later, you just need to do it. Launch your blog. Create your Facebook page. Schedule your first book signing. Write your first newsletter. Order those postcards. Press SEND on that media release.
Will it be scary? Probably. Is it guaranteed to work? No. Does doing it mean that people might actually read your book — and comment on it? That’s the goal! Does it mean you might get some negative feedback? If we’re honest, that’s always a possibility. But if you’re still scared, think back to the reason you wrote your book in the first place. Whether it was to solve a problem or entertain your reader for a few hours, you had a mission and a message, or you wouldn’t have written it.
So stop hiding behind your computer and start telling people about your book. You can do it. I’m cheering you on. And if you need more than cheering, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your complimentary half-hour consultation.
Here’s to the end of the preparation and the beginning of the marketing!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.