Monday, July 23, 2012
Go Big or Go Home
1. We talk about it too much.
You lose momentum when you boast about what you're going to do. There's something dramatic about releasing a great magazine feature that took months to research or a book nobody saw coming. The public marvels and asks, "When did you find time to do that?" or "I didn't know you were doing that - wow!" The surprise is part of your strategy, people. All you're doing in bragging about your plans is assuaging your ego, telling yourself you are doing something worthwhile. Others have their plans in their heads. They aren't following yours. Too much hype ruins the actual release. And for many of us, it saps some of the creativity from it. We got our "fix" of people wowing and commending us . . . before it was ever written. So just hush. Actions speak louder than words.
2. We copy other people.
Anything big is unique. That's part of being big. Yes, it's scary to be in front, being unique, seeing nobody before you with advice. You are making it up as you go. But the good side is you make your own rules. Don't try to write another Hunger Games. Don't try to emulate Rowling. It's oh so tempting to copy, but slap yourself on the hand when you do. Unique is hard and time consuming.
Yep, when you dare difference, you take risks. If failure tugs in the back of your head, you will not give your project your all. Decide to do great or crash and burn with grand finesse. That empowers you. It's how runners race. It's how designers create clothes. It's how games are orchestrated. It's how music is written. You recognize those who play it safe. They fall into the fray of the masses. That odd-ball in the corner is the one to watch. Sure, he might fail. But he could also succeed with nobody anywhere near him in competition . . . because he went for originality . . . and weird. Sometimes weird clicks . . . and succeeds BIG. When you start worrying about how BIG that BIG is, you start thinking relatively. Stop.
4. We whine, "Sure, it's easy for him. He's already big."
Surprise! Once you do BIG once, it's easier to do it again. People expect big things from you, and they anxiously await your next project. It's how a great series works. Yes, it's easy for JA Konrath to self-publish, because he walked away from traditional with a fan base. What's wrong with that? He went BIG going traditional and he succeeded. So when he decided to go BIG self-publishing, people expected the same quality from him. And he became BIGGER because of that expectation. But you can't get the second BIG until you fight the uphill, upstream battle to make it the first time.
5. We make the project second fiddle.
BIG means BIG. It means consuming your day. It means quick-fix dinners and late-night hours. It means no vacations and no relaxing in front of the tube. It's what wakes you in the morning and keeps you from sleeping at night. And you love it! You don't fit it into your life. You fit life into your project.
6. We think it takes money.
Nope, it's more about you capitalizing on every resource in your grasp. Rowling wasn't rich. King wasn't rich. Fern Michaels wasn't rich. Don't mistake someone's current financial stature with what got them started. If you need money to self-publish, save it, earn it, seek backers. If you want to traditionally publish, then bust your butt with queries and assure them you're in this for the long haul, with 110% of your attention. It takes dedication, diligence, stubbornness, willingness to improve, anxiety to excel. Money is way down the list. Count your blessings. Most other professions take more bucks.
I've been lecturing a grandson for the last two weeks. Snicker . . . he's probably ready to go home to get away from all the advice, but I'm hell-bent on sending him home with the same lesson in this post. We are responsible for ourselves. We are not victims. And we can make a future for ourselves. The ones who have done so will tell you they just never gave up trying to be BIGGER and better. We are the only ones who can give up. Nobody does that for us.