One of my closest friends wrote me a note last night. “El. I’m almost hyperventilating. About self-publishing. And marketing. And promoting. And layout. And . . .”
Well. It was a long list of stuff. And what she actually wrote is a lot different than that, but I write fiction, so I get to change stuff around a lot. I smiled when I read this, because I get it. I’ve felt the same way so many times, as I sat in front of my computer contemplating all the things I had to do, at that exact moment, when all I wanted to do was to write.
So what do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed about the whole icky, impossible, terribly awful self-publishing process?
Well, as an athlete, I learned how to focus on the basics. So if my swing was messed up, or my jump shot kept clanging off the back of the rim, I’d run through a checklist. As far as hitting a ball coming at me at 60 miles an hour from 45 feet away, I’d make sure my elbow was up, my shoulders were way back, hands nice and low, and I’d see the ball right when it left the mound and try to watch it all the way to the barrel of the bat. In basketball, I’d focus on elbows in, back straight, and that gorgeous wrist flick on my follow-through.
In self-publishing, whenever I feel overwhelmed, I refocus on the basics as well. Am I hitting my daily word count of 1,000 words? Am I working my social media contacts in a personal, helpful and awesome way? In other words, really talking to people and making myself useful?
Am I building my newsletter subscriber base? Is it time to price pulse, or drop down to 99 cents and contact advertising sites like EReader News, Bookblast, Free Booksy, and a few others? Am I on track for my release date, and is there anything I can do between now and then to get better prepared?
When I played ball and was in a hitting, shooting or (gah!) pitching slump, I practiced extra hard, stopped worrying about outcomes like shooting percentages, games won or lost, and ERA. Instead, I put in the extra time, and kept it simple. Elbows, follow-through, release point, and number of shots taken or pitches thrown during each practice session. I focused on the things I could control, and ignored everyone and everything else.
When my sales drop, or my Facebook page interaction numbers tail off, I stop looking at the results. I pay attention to the things that really matter. Is the dialogue in chapter six of Wave realistic? Did I nail the roller derby action sequence? Is this scene a funny and helpful resting spot for the reader, or I am being self-indulgent again?
And when I can’t focus on any of these things because my worries paralyze me, I stop away from the computer, and I do something different. Like complain about how nasty my husband’s kimchi and sardines smells. Or I grab a football and ask my daughter to play catch with me.
Basics. I get back to basics.