I’ve been blocked all week.
I’ve strung out over 4000 words in blog posts with no finished product to show for it. Everything I write seems to come to a sheer cliff with no soft way to land.
Even that metaphor sucks.
This is the fifth time I’ve started over writing this post.
I’ve found in the past that whenever I get blocked, my cure is to come back to the basics. So as I sit here staring at the blinking cursor, I asked myself what is the basic thing that underlies all author marketing. Of everything I’d like to write about, what’s the foundation of it all?
The answer: attitude.
What is a bad attitude?
My interpretation of the technical definition of attitude is this:
“The real reason I’m doing what I’m doing.”
All bad book marketing comes from having the wrong reason for doing what I’m doing. Here’s a few examples:
Desperation. This usually comes from attaching my self-worth to book sales. When I get desperate for book sales, I start pushing people to buy my book instead of inviting them.
Selfishness. I’m more interested in selling books to help myself instead of the reader. It’s all about what I get out of the transaction.
Pride. This usually keeps people from marketing their book at all. If the book is good, they tell themselves, then it will sell itself. Somehow marketing — inviting people to connect with them and their work — sullies the whole thing.
Fear. What if people hate it? It’s probably best if I don’t do anything to market my book, that way I don’t have to worry about people reading it and hating it and then posting their hate on Amazon as 1 star reviews.
Envy. I’ll never be as good or successful as her, so what’s the point in even trying?
I’ve felt all of these at some point and to varying degrees and it always turns out badly. It keeps me from writing. It keeps me from connecting. It keeps me from sharing.
What is a good attitude?
In my book, Your First 1000 Copies, I define marketing as this:
“Creating long-lasting connections with people and then being relentlessly helpful.”
It’s the second part of the definition that will fix our attitude.
Always focus on helping the reader.
Zig Ziglar said too many times to count, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
When I’m focused on being relentlessly helpful:
- Desperation falls away because we’re merely inviting people to be a part of something that will be good for them.
- Selfishness disappears because we’re focused on helping other people.
- Pride turns into humility because we feel honored to play our part.
- Fear evaporates because it’s no longer about us.
- Envy is no longer a problem because we’re not trying to live other people’s lives.
How to fix your attitude
The way to beat those negative attitudes that so easily grab us and block us from reaching our goals is to stop and focus on the right things.
Here’s how to fix our attitude:
- Focus on our why.
- Focus on one person. With email lists, social media and analytics it’s easy to turn people into numbers. Instead, focus on one person that needs our help and write for him. It no longer matters how many you sell as long as you’ve helped that one person.
- Focus on now. Nothing will lock us up like worry about the future. Will it sell? Will people hate it? Will it matter? When we’re creating, focus on doing your best now. If it sucks, we can always throw it away later.
Every single reader has their own wants and needs that we can be a part of helping.
And that’s the point.
I’m here to help. Some people won’t like my help. Some people won’t appreciate the way I’m trying to help. Some people don’t need my particular brand of help.
All of that is ok.
I can’t help everyone, but I can help some people. Maybe I can help you.
And that’s why I wrote this. Because I woke up this morning wondering how I can help you connect with more readers. That’s why I’ve thrown out over 4000 words this week and finished with something that barely breaks 700.
Focus on helping your readers, and you’ll never run out of things to say.
February 13, 2014