A whole year has gone by since ‘Stepping Up In Leadership’ made its debut out into the world. Honestly, it feels like longer with everything else that this year has contained. This anniversary seems like a good opportunity to stop and reflect on what I’ve learned since releasing my book.
The basic facts about the book:
- The book is called ‘Stepping Up In Leadership: Reflections from the journey’ and is available through my website, Koorong online and most online booksellers. It is available as an ebook on Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Kobo.
- What is it about?
- I self-published through Ingram Spark.
- I paid an editor to work on the manuscript with me before I published.
My identity as a writer
I know from personal experience and talking to others that being comfortable with calling yourself a writer is a difficult process. We have these markers in our mind that determine when someone qualifies for that title and usually that list contains items that we don’t attribute to ourselves. By the time I released my book, I was confident in calling myself a writer. It was part of my identity.
Releasing my book brought another layer in the identity process that I wasn’t anticipating. I suddenly had this label of ‘author’ thrown in the mix. Here was a new identity aspect that I didn’t feel comfortable accepting. Was I really an ‘author’ if I had self-published? I felt like a fraud and that I needed the validation of a traditional publishing contract before I could legitimately claim that title.
Deep down I think I am still wrestling with that a year later.
Definition of success
I frequently get asked how the book is going since it released. I love the interest of the people asking but I don’t really know how to answer. What would they consider as going well? What do I consider a success in this process of releasing my book?
Before I had published my book, I had two numbers in mind for book sale goals in the first year. The first was a number that felt just out of reach based on the number of people I had on my email list and the number of social media followers I had. The second was a wild goal that didn’t feel even remotely possible. A coach encouraged me to set this second number to dream big and break my mind out of safe, comfortable thinking.
I had surpassed my first goal within two months. I am still nowhere close to the second. Do I count the success or do I count the failure? I am learning to sit in the tension of both. Celebrating the wins encourages me. Looking at where I still want to go keeps me moving.
I keep coming back to why I published this book in the first place. The earnings are a factor but not my main driving force. Women in need of encouragement to see themselves as leaders and make a difference in the world around them are my motivator. I am far from an expert and have so much more to learn but I can still share value from what I have already learned.
My biggest ‘success’ in this time has had the least amount of income attached. ‘Stepping Up In Leadership’ has been taken into several different nations of the world, translated and distributed to women leading groups in their communities. How amazing is that? It is not something that I ever even thought to set as a goal.
The work doesn’t end when it is published
Writing I can do. Figuring out the technology to format the book correctly, I wrestled through. Marketing has me sitting in the beginner level, avoiding it at every turn. This is the ongoing work that will see more sales, more women encouraged by these words and keep me moving forward.
I have a choice- either I relegate this book to a shelf as a tick on a bucket list or I do the ongoing work of marketing to get the word out about it. The writing is done and won’t be changed now. Only I can keep myself on the hook to fulfill the purpose of writing it in the first place.
Relationship and connection is key
Most of my book sales come from times when I have spoken at an event or through conversations with people at events. This isn’t surprising really but I didn’t fully comprehend how important relationship and connection are in this process. Please understand, I am not talking about creating false connection and the illusion of relationship to sell a book. I am talking about the genuine sense of connection that happens when I get to share my heart and listen to someone share theirs.
The mountain doesn’t seem as big on the other side
Time and again in my life I am reminded that the project or dream we set that seems impossible to achieve doesn’t seem as big when it is completed. When I am faced with wanting to give up, I can look back at all the other times in my life when I didn’t think I could make it but chose to keep going. Writing and releasing my book has become part of that.
As I was writing and working through the publishing process, I wanted to quit so often. I didn’t. I have proof of my ability to persevere and do hard things. It’s even in a format that I can hold in my hands. One copy sits on my desk as I work. It is a reminder to keep going on the dreams and projects that seem impossible before me now.
For those of us who write
May we never lose sight of the why that drives us.
May we never give up when it seems too hard and the words feel in short supply.
We are created with a heart to write not simply for ourselves but for those who will read our words.