Life has been getting a little hectic for us lately. But that’s okay—we’re not complaining! After Two Are Better came off the printing press last month, we’ve been busy shipping books, refining our bookkeeping system, tweaking the website, working on ebook conversions, marketing, and digesting where we are on the project. Life has changed. For well over a year, the routine was to create the best possible rendering of an adventure of a lifetime—well, two for that matter. From writing, to editing, to cover design, to layout, to proofreading–details abounded. Now the routine must change. We like that. We’re not inclined to slide back into a rut of our own making. We are in transition. We’ve moved from one jungle to another.
Up ahead, staring us in the face like a double-barreled shotgun, are marketing challenges. With well over 70,000 print titles published every year, how do we set ourselves apart? How do we find the specific audiences who will be drawn to our book? And who are those people, anyway? We have several goodies to offer folks: adventure, discovery, love, inspiration, decision-making, and freedom. Now the challenge is to reach the audience and articulate the message in compelling fashion. So, not only are we in transition, but we are facing another challenge. We like that, too. It suggests we are going to learn and grow.
We all face challenges. Treading new ground can be both exciting and…well…frankly intimidating. Many may have gone before you, but the multitude of beaten paths appear as a maze without end. Just which path leads you out of the jungle? You won’t know until you try a few. Knowing which paths to take can leave you turning in circles, perhaps even frozen in time. And you may be going down the wrong paths for a long, long time. Some may never make it out alive.
Thankfully, there are many along the way who will help steer you. Some give good advice. Others who aren’t qualified will toss in their two cents anyway, just to make it interesting. Yet others know they are lost, too. They’re kindred travelers who can only keep you company and provide an encouraging word. Knowing which voices to heed can be an artform unto itself. But it is important to reach out to those with experience, those who have traveled a similar course in the past and found their way to fruitful ground, if not their intended destination.
Navigating on our bicycle tours was relatively simple. We had good maps. And we had a GPS. It was easy to discover when we strayed off course. When we needed services, we had a wealth of useful information right at our fingertips. Sometimes, we needed to consult others along the way. But our goal, our ultimate destination, always reshaped our course.
In our latest publishing challenges, the maps, even the ultimate goals, are not as succinct as traveling from point A to point B on a bicycle. Many have gone before and offer their own blueprints. Those certainly help, but no one is really headed to the exact same place or traveling over the exact same terrain. When you don’t have a map, you need to develop your own. You may have it already in your head, but its complexities have cluttered your mind with endless tasks that no longer fit together as well as intended. That’s when it’s time to sit down and document the plan. Draw the map! The process itself will hone the result. And be prepared to change your map from time to time before arriving at your destination. That’s okay. That’s part of the process. But if you don’t have a plan, let alone a destination, you’ll be lost in “them woods” for a long time to come. How’s your map-making lately?