On May 6, 1954 Roger Bannister became the first human in history to break the four minute barrier and run a mile in under four minutes. Stick with me here folks, I really have a point. He decided he was going to break this record and after several attempts he did it. No one thought it was possible for any human being to run a mile in under four minutes. It was too extraordinary to even comprehend. But Roger Bannister decided in his head that he could and would do it, and then he trained accordingly.
In the two years following his achievement, 37 additional people ran a mile in under four minutes. Why? No human in history had done it, suddenly Roger Bannister does it, and then 37 other people can do it too? It’s because Bannister proved it was possible. Once something is proven as a possible human achievement, other people gain the belief in themselves to make their dreams a reality. And then other people achieve as well.
Tony Robbins is one of my heroes, and not just because he has those awesome big teeth. This video is 38 minutes long, but if THIS doesn’t change how you view your dreams and go after it, then probably nothing will. I believe this video could be the best 38 minutes of your time you’ve ever invested. tonyrobbinstraining.com/320/interview-with-frank-kern-and-john-reese/
Tony explains it far better than I do, but the bottom line here as it relates to us is… self-publishing is really filled with a lot of underachievers, and I believe there is a reason for this. The reason is that self-publishing has been poo poo’d for SO long, that nearly every person who goes into it has a dream, but it’s a pipe dream. They don’t REALLY believe they can do it and so they don’t take the required actions to make it happen.
In the past 10 months since I released my novella, KEPT, I’ve had over 10,000 readers. over 2,000 of those readers bought the Amazon Kindle version, so they actually paid money to read it. The rest got the free PDF. (And just so no one jumps on me, the Amazon Kindle Version is a dollar, they won’t let little indies like me give it away. So when you get it on Kindle, you’re paying for the format and convenience of having it delivered to your Kindle. I have no control over that issue if I want to be on Amazon.)
And yet… there is a giant gap between free and $1. Because free is a no-brainer, and $1 is a "buying decision" even if a little one. Candy Bars are under a dollar but people don’t always buy those just because they are in their face at the check out line. In this economy especially, something being cheap, doesn’t equal massive sales necessarily.
My "over 10,000" number doesn’t impress me. (Many people are doing far better than I am. And I take full responsibility for the fact that I haven’t done even better. I know how much (or little) I’ve worked at times, and the results are the fruit of that.) I see it as progress, and that’s great but it doesn’t just knock me over with "OMG I’m so awesome." And that’s because I have big goals and even bigger dreams. Meanwhile I’ve seen many self publishing authors who have moved under 300 copies in a full calendar year. For free or pay.
There could be many reasons… maybe the book isn’t good. Maybe the cover is lousy. Maybe the book isn’t being marketed; the author thought they could print it and it would magically sell itself. Or maybe… the author doesn’t believe in himself.
Belief in what you can accomplish creates your reality. You can’t just believe and not take action… that’s just a pipe dream. And you can’t just take action without belief because then you’ll put less effort into it. The force of your belief in yourself will drive you. You have to get to the point of absolute certainty.
Absolute certainty that you are a good writer and people will want to read your work. (Get there however you have to get there. Test market, get crit and beta readers, see if any agents show any interest in your writing at all, even if they don’t think they can sell it. They don’t have to sell it. You will.)
Absolute certainty that you can create a GOOD and well-put together book that illustrates your competence. i.e. you’re going to do what you have to do to have proper editing, layout, cover design.
Absolute certainty that you can market and sell this book and move a certain number of copies in a certain amount of time.
Self-publishing is one of the hardest things to do successfully, well except for maybe brain surgery. Many people I’ve seen publishing their own work just aren’t displaying a high level of savvy. They aren’t bringing much to the table. Their covers look homemade, their editing is shoddy, they’ve sold 150 copies in a year. I mean come on guys. You have got to BELIEVE you can do this. And then you have to bring the competence to the table.
Some of the people self-publishing have high-powered jobs, that require a level of savvy they aren’t bringing to the publishing table. WHY? Take this seriously. If you don’t take it seriously, you’re not going to succeed. If you don’t believe in yourself with absolute certainty you’re not going to succeed. If you take a million shortcuts and don’t take the time to educate yourself about publishing and marketing and how to create a great book and get it in the hands of readers, you’re not going to succeed.
Here is the feedback loop many self-publishing authors are stuck in:
Critic: You’ll never succeed. Do you know how RARE it is to succeed self-publishing? Most self-publishing authors sell 150 copies or less. You’ll never make any money at this. Most self-published books suck. They are poorly edited, have crappy covers, and don’t sell well. You can’t get in bookstores, so obviously you can’t sell books unless you sell out of the trunk of your car.
When the self-publishing author hears this, unless they’re just really stubborn and determined, they’re likely to believe it and internalize these thoughts. If the odds are so bad then they think of what they’re doing as a lottery. They put minimal effort into it. They don’t get the book well-edited or the cover properly produced because what’s the point? They don’t learn what they need to about marketing or how they’re going to move books outside the bookstore environment, because there’s no point right?
Because they’ve been infused with the belief, and bought into it, that their odds are really really bad and it’s probably just a silly dream, they don’t take themselves seriously and do the things that they need to do to succeed. Instead they self-sabotage. They design their own cover, and it looks it. They don’t get proper editing. They don’t do the proper market research, and when the book comes out, they don’t work that hard to sell it because they’re afraid of failure and being mocked. Or failure and losing money and being mocked.
If you’re going to do it, you may as well do it properly and take the time to learn HOW to do it properly. Because some people do succeed self-publishing, and there are more of those stories than you think. But you won’t, as long as you live into what your critics have said. You have to rise above it.
Some of your critics and naysayers are trying to save you from yourself… bless their hearts. What they don’t understand is… if a person truly has a dream they feel compelled to follow, they’re going to do it anyway. And if a critic/naysayer really has their best interest at heart and just doesn’t want them to get hurt, then they’ll be supportive and help them problem solve, not try to talk them out of it. Once the decision to do it has been made, the naysaying becomes pointless and cruel. I’ve noticed that many many many people like to spend hours naysaying but they won’t spend five minutes trying to help problem solve. Says more about them than it does about you, huh? Keep it in mind so you can determine who is really on your side and who wants you to follow their path so they can feel better about their own choices.
There are also too many self-publishing authors who aren’t treating this like a business. And it’s fine if you want to hobby publish. But if you want to publish as a hobby then you need to understand that you are going to lose money. Hobbies don’t generally make a profit. You aren’t going to sell many books because it’s hard to be motivated to do a lot of work without any financial payout or promise of one at all. If you just want to publish for love and not money, then give it away. Save yourself the time and stress and money of getting it into print.
If you want to look at it as a business then you must become aquainted with the concept of the profit and loss statement. Simple as that. You have to have a business plan and a marketing plan. You have to know where you’re selling and how. You have to test market to see if people respond to your work. You have to bring in more money than your sending out.
But in order to do all of this you have to take yourself seriously and believe in yourself. Stop listening to the naysayers. I’m going to let you in on a little secret of life… 90% of the naysayers out there are too gutless to follow their own dreams so they have to pick at yours. And I gotta tell ya, I’m not that impressed with a mediocre cubicle monkey who can’t even THINK big, let alone act big. Don’t let them impress you either.
Grab your dreams and go for them. If you’ve truly done your research and then you have someone coming to you with a million excuses of why your dream won’t work… then you know that you know more than they do. Because you’ve spent months researching it, and in all likelihood, they just spent about 30 minutes to an hour reading other naysayer’s views and then parroting those back. It doesn’t take guts or knowledge or savvy, or really anything impressive to follow the naysaying herd. But it does take guts and knowledge, and savvy, to step out and follow your dream in your own way. It takes guts and knowledge and savvy to self-publish successfully.
Weak-minded people concern themselves with everybody’s business but their own. The strong-minded find what they want and stay the course. In order for self-publishing to turn a corner and start breaking the stigma and stereotype, self-publishing authors must have the courage and strength to ignore all the negative mental crap being thrown at them and what their doing, and rise above it to follow their dream. It’s the only way we’ll run that mile in under four minutes, and give others the courage to do the same.