Newbie author rediscovers his natural aversion to all things bureaucratic

The shift from writing to platform-building as book launch approaches

Last week I talked about putting pen to paper, or keystrokes to Microsoft Word, and all the behind the scenes work that involved. When I felt I had no clue what I was doing, I remembered what my developmental editor told me. Don’t judge and don’t stop, so I didn’t judge and I didn’t stop.

I quickly learned that I needed to quiet my mind to open my vein to paper. That was tough while at work or even being in the city that I live in, Atlanta, Georgia. There were too many day to day neurons firing off in my brain. Writing, for me, requires a meditational state of mind that allows my raw and honest thoughts to come out. That is too tough when I have so many external events vying for my attention.

I got it firmly in my head that I should just keep writing and pour out what was in my head, worrying about cleaning it up later. This helped me keep going and avoid writer’s block. However, if I felt disengaged, as if I was only going through the motions, I would get agitated. My self-imposed deadline was that I needed to have this book out by the fall of 2013. (I had no idea why this made everyone with experience in publishing chuckle.) This pressure did not help. If I knew I was just typing a mess I would walk away, take the dogs to the dog park, watch TV, or take a nap. That is a fine balance between making yourself get on with it and knowing when to take a break.

And when I took those breaks, where did my mind go? Sales, marketing, platform, and the exhaustive list of what needs to be done to launch a book.

I came to a conclusion early on. Traditional publishing had the following characteristics: Powerful, bureaucratic, slow, unhelpful with promotion, controlling the gate to bricks and mortar bookstores, and suffering from the throw-it-up-and-see-what-sticks mentality. Life was good for the few who made it through the eye of the needle.

As an entrepreneur, this did not sound sexy to me at all. Then I read “Be the Monkey” by Barry Eisler and J.A. Konrath and that took care of that. The one guarantee about selling a book was that I was going to have to work my ass off promoting it regardless of which route I chose. While some like to delegate to others, I love business, sales, meeting others, learning, and having control. Why would I want to turn over my heart and soul to anyone else? No. Not doing that. I was going to take my time and surround myself with smart people that were available to join my team. A good book is a good book. Word of mouth moves it. All the tea in China won’t move a bad book. The rest of the stuff is just inviting too many cooks into the kitchen. Now that there was more than one game in town, I decided to take my chances. I was playing 80/20 by this point; 80% writing, 20% platform-building. That percentage would shift as I got closer to launch.

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