On the nature of cliffs, promotions, and advertising

I think I’ve often used the analogy of standing at the edge… or rather, at the precipice looking down from dizzying heights. Getting that gut feeling of grabbing onto anything that’ll keep you from falling. While you’re grabbing, you’re also looking down (against your best judgment).

Back when I used to be a bit younger (I’m thinking, around 16 or 17), I used to think publishing was easy! As I’ve grown older, that sort of thinking has changed. There’s no such thing as “easy”, just varying degrees of application of skill and knowledge personified in results. Now that I’m both the author, and my own publisher (I own the publishing company, so I’m my own publisher, duh), I see both sides of the equation clearly. Writing is hard work, no doubt. So is editing, typesetting, and don’t even get me started on the cover-design process! But, once all of that is said and done, I realized, the hardest part, for me, was yet to come: Marketing/selling the book.

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.” ~ Jim Rohn

You could have the best product in the world, but if people don’t know about it – it might as well be worth $0. Without the skill to market and sell the product, it’ll be a guaranteed dud. This is where my struggle to grow starts, I guess… my only experience in marketing (if one can call it that) was an internship I did during college with the Department of Marketing and Communication at my college. But now that I’m a business owner/manager, it’s up to me to figure out how to bring my experiences, education, successes, disappointments, and failures to culminate into something greater than the sum of all of their collective parts. I wrote a book, got it polished and ready for publication, then published it myself via my own company. Now, if only people knew about it!

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.”

Easier said than done. But I suppose struggle is a part of nature; always has been. Just as living creatures have to struggle as they come into this world, so must businesses. It’s the struggle to be able to sell enough to break-even (and then, to be profitable). As the owner/manager of my own company, I know I have to be better. It’s not a question of if I have to be better… rather, it’s a question of how much better do I have to be to take the business from where it is right now to where I want it to be a year from now?

Remember when I used the ocean as an example of real life during my last entry? Yeah. These are definitely uncharted waters. What’s that? Look to others for advice, you say? Sure! Problem is, there’s so much conflicting advice, it’s hard to filter out all the noise. Heck, there’s even advice about if an author should have a blog or not. There are a million things you can and can’t do… from advertising (which costs money) to just giving your product/book away for free (which doesn’t cost anything but doesn’t allow me to put food on the table either). I guess my point is this: Like a lot of things in life (and I realize some people have a hard time grasping this concept), there might not be a right answer.

There’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach to trying to introduce people to anything, as much as advertising firms would like you to believe. Know how I know this? It’s because I’ve seen advertising campaigns succeed, and fail. If the one-size-fits-all approach worked, there would be little to no failed advertising campaigns… but we all know that’s not the case.

So here’s what I’ll do (and maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t – I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t say): I’ll write here. Not because I want to become famous, or make some of that sweet-sweet ad-words money… but because I genuinely want to write, because writing makes it easier to process the real thoughts from the white noise that try to drown out all the good ideas.

If the why is big enough, the how will find a way: Write because you want to write. Advertise in the way you see fit because you feel it’s the best way to reach the right customer, not because someone in a suit and a power tie tells you to do so. But that’s the nature of the cliff, isn’t it? It forces you to question your own sanity as you force yourself to stand at its edge (knowing full well you shouldn’t look down, but you still do because you’re just smart like that). Do you stand at the edge until it crumbles under your own weight? Or do you strap on a parachute and jump willingly? The sane person would likely argue that it would be best to stand at the edge, hoping it doesn’t give way under your weight. I, on the other hand, would choose the parachute – jump – it’s no fun to just wait and hope for the best, yeah?

I guess that might be the thing that separates me from my sane counterparts. I actually have the audacity to believe that I can go at this on my own and succeed. That is not to say that I don’t have a team… far from it! I have a support system, and I’m thankful every day for it. I have an amazing editor, typesetter, and cover artist: That’s my team right there, as far as getting my books ready for production is concerned. I see my parents and friends as an inspiration to do better and be better than what/who I am at present. But, that’s what I mean when I say “go at this on my own”, I’m not part of a big publisher. I’m my own publisher, with my own product. Self-employed, trying to compete in a market that’s pretty saturated with big-name publishers.

But, enough about my woes and hopes. Here’s a pretty informative article about cliffs.

Until next time!

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