Recently, my husband and I made the decision to enroll our rambunctious three year old in pee wee soccer. It’s been an interesting six weeks of practices, but it seems like our little boy is finally starting to pick up some of the basics of the game, as well as learning a little about how to work on a team… but there’s other lessons that I’ve learned while on the field with him – especially about self-publishing.
You’ll never know who to listen to
Much of pee wee soccer practice is dedicated to parents yelling two simple words to their children from the sidelines: “NO HANDS!” The kids simply don’t understand why they can’t reach down and use their perfectly capable hands to maneuver the ball into an ideal position. And, of course, just as they start to figure it out, coach blows his whistle and instructs the kids to pick up their soccer balls and move to the center of the field. That’s when the chaos hits and the kids stand paralyzed, unable to discern whether they should listen to coach’s instructions or their parents’ “NO HANDS!” instructions.
In the self-publishing field, there’s countless people who would like to be your “coach,” offering rules and advice that may or may not apply to you and your book. Friends, parents, social media gurus, bloggers, other authors, and so many more. As they all shriek from the sidelines, it’s important to keep your eyes on your goal, discerning the best way to get there by selecting the best role models along the way.
Someone will always be better than you
Even in pee wee soccer, there’s a kid or two who seems to effortlessly master every skill. They’re tiny masters of the craft, always one step ahead of the coach (and making all of the other kids feel bad in the process).
In self-publishing, you’ll see the same. Authors who became near overnight successes, selling millions of copies of their e-books, landing publishing deals, and signing movie deals. It’s easy, of course, to compare yourself to these authors and – in doing so – convincing yourself you should throw in the proverbial towel. However, it’s important to approach your book with clear eyes, unfiltered by the successes and failures of others. Focus on your work and your work alone, setting your own benchmarks for success along the way.
You won’t always know when you need a break
As the little ones rush up and down the field, doing their best to dribble, kick, and score, their attention spans stretch to impressive lengths for such tiny people. But, even with all their focus on the ball, it’s important to take breaks before they become overwhelmed and meltdown on the field.
It’s easy to fall victim to the same kind of meltdown as a self-publishing author. Whether you’re buried in notes from your book editor or working a sequel for your novel, you need to schedule breaks to keep yourself sane. Don’t think of your time away from your manuscript or publishing efforts as an indulgence and never feel guilty for stepping away from the keyboard. Instead, know that they’re a necessary part of maintaining your long-term productivity.
Where have you found improbable lessons for your self-publishing adventure?