Twenty plus years ago, one of my author friends coined one of my favorite book titles: Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers. It’s all about change and slashing through the things that continually hold people and companies back. A few years ago, I ran into Bob Kriegel at a conference we were both speaking at. He was still talking about burgers and he reminded me of a story he told me long ago about surfing and change. As I think about his works, they fit perfectly with today’s author.
Huge “waves of change,” are barreling in from every direction and shaking up the basic foundations of everything we thought we knew and know about publishing. There isn’t a week that goes by that some new tidbit has come to the surface. For some authors, that new tidbit has the capability of capsizing them.
With the “e”volution of the past few years, these publishing change waves will continue to increase and come at a faster rate. Traditional publishers are finally acknowledging that a Nor-eastern is in their midst. The good news is that the independents are more adaptable and can maneuver across the waves. We may not have the credit lines the big boys have; what we do have is the ability to stay in front of the waves. Traditional publishers traditional wait for the wave to move. We small guys are moving within the wave—a huge difference.
There are several Surfer Rules … adapting them for publishing include:
Surfers Love What They Do … Be Passionate
The best surfers live and breathe their sport. The most successful authors live and breathe their books, their vision, their commitment. It all starts with the Passion Factor. If you don’t have a fire in your belly about your book equally matched with a giant helping of enthusiasm, the waves and riptides of publishing will crush you. The Passion Factor is the high octane of your fuel system. The hiccups you will run into become minor obstacles … many can turn into opportunities.
Surfers Have Flair … Push Your Limits with Flash
If you do whatever other author is doing, is writing about, is speaking about … what you get is boring. You are bored … and so is the audience. You’ve got to bring some pop and pizzazz to your voice and your words. You’ve got to bring the same pop and pizzazz to your presentations and marketing. Are you up to it?
Top performers in any area are never satisfied and thus they’re constantly pushing their limits. Good surfers are continually trying innovative new moves, new equipment, new places and going for bigger waves and longer rides. Staying ahead of a wave demands taking risks, trying new approaches and constantly challenging yourself and those around you.
Surfers Wipe Out … and So Do Authors … Expect It
If you think you are going to catch the perfect wave every time, you are in for a rude awakening. No one does. Surfers have to be patient. They know when the big one is coming in. They sense it; they feel it; they have prepped for it. So must an author.
If you think that everything that you will do, and that you engage others to do, will be perfect—that’s an “oh-oh” moment. They aren’t. Many authors get frustrated with what they perceive as failure of a marketing plan. Maybe it was; maybe it wasn’t. Marketing isn’t a one-time shot. It’s patience, over time, loaded with commitment and a game plan. Some marketing works, some doesn’t.
Surfers Look to the Outside … Authors Must Anticipate What’s Coming
The next wave, or the next, next wave could be the “big” one. Authors have to anticipate what’s coming along. That’s why the authoring commitment creates a life-long learning opportunity. The huge mistake that most authors make is that they think that once the book is printed/published, the world comes to them. That’s where the Wipe-Out factor comes into play. The publishing world continues to morph; the Internet delivers a variety of new ideas and opportunities (as well as crashing waves) on a weekly basis.
Once you put your toe into the authoring wave, you now must commit to continuing education. Schmoozing with other authors, attending conferences, absorbing the latest trends is essential if you are going to continue to ride the publishing waves.
Surfers Don’t Just Sit There … Authors Must Keep Scanning the Horizon
If you’ve even watched a surfer; he starts paddling long before he is in the wave. Publishing is no different. If you wait to long to get into the wave—to get your book going, you will get caught up in the backwash—sometimes knocking you down in the process and stopping you cold. In publishing, the author usually has to get into the wave—move—before it overtakes him or her. Yes, maybe one more interview will add more flavor to your book, or one more study. But, could that be the next book?
It’s not uncommon for authors to get caught up in “one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, three to get ready, three to get ready.” Catch the wave!
Surfers Don’t Surf Alone … Authors Shouldn’t Publish Alone … Ever!
One of the traits of successful authors and indie publishers is that they’ve learned that they don’t, and can’t, do it alone. Nor does the savvy surfer surf alone. Determine who you need on your team—book designer, cover designer, printer, editor, book coach … who else. Get them engaged as you scan the publishing horizon.