Getting Over Overwhelm
by Tama J. Kieves
I am a “newbie” publisher and probably like many of us, I’ve been devouring everything in sight on marketing, publicity, increasing sales, touching the hems of Oprah, and the like. I’ve read the books on it, subscribed to on-line newsletters, attended local publishing groups, listened to tapes, felt guilty about the tapes I didn’t listen to, and glommed onto publishing buddies on the path. I am swimming in information. And, just the other day, I realized, I am choking on it.
Truly choking. I’ve gotten so caught up in all there is to do, that I can literally stand in the middle of my office staring into space –seeing an infinite amount of tasks all telling me my future depends on them and each and every one of them must be done this very second–since I’m already too late to the table and backsliding as we speak. There’s too much for one lifetime, much less for this day or hour. And then I read another publishing secret, another surefire technique to get noticed and yet another newsletter that promises me 8 things I can and must do to get my book sold. I don’t even know which expert’s newsletter to buy now, which tip I absolutely must have, and pretty soon I forget that I figured out how to write a book by listening to my natural instincts and that I will probably figure out how to market that book in much the same way.
Recently I attended the PMA seminars in New York before the Book Expo of America. And I learned a good deal and met a fascinating crowd of self-publishing whirling-dervish-entrepreneurs who seem to be endless in their stamina, frothing with sales pitches, and armed with glossy brochures, and a list of contacts that seemed like more people than I had ever talked to in my whole life. I admired their ambition, drive, and moxie with all my heart. But I felt like a visitor from another planet, and a tired one at that.
As I looked around I realized I am not likely going to be someone who wears a button advertising my book to a party, mentioning my book at every crossroads, every bus-stop, every phone call, and even selling copies to telemarketers who call to sell me on their long distance phone companies. I started feeling lumpy and lethargic, inferior, and possibly doomed.
And then I realized there are as many marketing styles as there are writing styles and I will no doubt find my own inspired style. In fact, ironically, my book is about finding your own way of creating the work you love. After all, I had left a high-paced legal career to drop out, become a writer, and follow the wondrous intuitions of my heart. I guess now I will do the same thing all over again, when it comes to finding my own inherently natural marketing approach.
So in an effort to distill my own wisdom, I wrote these three tips to help me get over overwhelm and get to where I want to go instead. I hope they help anyone else dealing with the same ridiculous panic and self-defeating behaviors.
Go Easy if You want to Run a Marathon:
I took 15 years to write, craft, and become the message of my book. Every time I rushed myself, I slowed my process down. I now see the same is true for me with marketing. I am committed to going the distance with this book, probably to the point of becoming a household name. I don’t have the energy to do a marketing blitz right away and all the way. I need to pace myself because I am going to stay with this for a long, long way. If I try to do everything all at once, I won’t have the stamina to give my best quality over time. So I’m pacing myself, slow and steady. Because I’ve seen that slow allows me to be steady, and steady consistency over time produces results.
A Dulled Mind Can’t Create Pointed Marketing
We live in a culture that tells us more is better and more than that is better still. But I’ve seen something else be true in my speaking, teaching, and coaching career. When I do too many workshops, I often get a little too automatic or less present to the energy of the room, the needs of my audience. When I take time off between workshops and speaking engagements, I find that I am more dynamic and inspired, and more people will buy books and tapes, and sign up for workshops or coaching. In other words, I often sell more, by teaching less.
I believe the same is true in writing sales material or following through on a marketing plan. The more white space I have in my activities, the more room I have for creativity to find me, or new perspectives to point me toward more direct routes. I guess I look at my creative energy as a tube of blue watercolor paint. The more I spread myself out, the more watered down my blue gets. When I choose carefully instead of relentlessly, my blue displays an intensity and poignancy that gets noticed and moves people to act.
Market from Self-Expression not Desperation:
I noticed that so many of the marketing books I read made me feel fearful–like if I wasn’t doing something all the time–I was certainly going to roll down hill into the sea and drift away into oblivion. But I realized that when I’m marketing out of fear, I usually get results that make me feel fearful. Empty gestures produce empty results. When I market from fullness, what I send out or say or produce has a feel to it, an electricity or zing. Oh heck, I’ll even say it has love in it. And I think people feel the love, the authenticity, the genuine excitement and respond to that. You know how when you’re really lonely, no one wants to date you Then when you’re feeling good about yourself, everyone wants to know you. I think it’s the same thing. I think we emit little vibes, and readers, buyers, producers, reviewers, all feel them and respond in kind. So I am going to focus not only on “doing” things, but on how I do them. I don’t want my marketing to be one more voice in the madhouse of commerce screaming at consumers “buy this or else…” I want my marketing to express my message with a richness and ease thatattracts people and connects them to my work.
Well, that’s my wisdom for now. And in case you’re interested, my book THIS TIME I DANCE! Trusting the Journey of Creating the Work you Love–How One Harvard Lawyer Left It All to Have It All! has now hit the BESTSELLERS list twice, here in Denver. So something’s working. Who knows, maybe all that staring into space did me some good!