It was 1990-something.
I was working in a small mom-and-pop publishing house just down I95 from Health Communications, the publisher of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
My boss wanted a series just like that.
Think of all the possibilities. Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul. Chicken Soup for the 12 Year Old’s Soul. Chicken Soup for the Chicken Soup Hater’s Soul. Chicken Soup for everyone!
I can’t remember if my boss told me this or if I read it in a magazine or heard it on the radio, but around that time, either Jack Canfield or Mark Victor Hansen said something about doing an interview a day, or scheduling something every day—or just doing something every day. (Murky, I know . . . Getting old is a hateful business).
Point was: Do something every day.
Stuck with me.
Back to 2019. I watched Amanda Seales’ “I Be Knowin’” special on HBO last weekend.
Part of her routine hits on how hard it is to go out in the evenings when you’re older—especially when all you want to do is curl up in bed. It’s a funny bit.
Reminded me of authors.
Very few of the ones I’ve known have wanted to do interviews.
They want to write.
They want to eat in their own kitchen, not in restaurants on the road.
They want to sleep in their own beds, not in hotels, motels, or the Holiday Inn.
They aren’t interested in any of it, but they know they have to do it, and they have to get into the mood.
Back to Canfield and Hansen—or whichever one said do something every day.
Think about interviews, or networking or whatever it is that helps share your book just as you might think about losing weight or saving money.
You don’t have to do a lot every day, but you have to do something.
Something. Every day.
So what is that something?
This is where it gets frustrating—and where I get angry at sites that have all the answers for how to launch a bestseller.
There isn’t one plan that will yield the same results for two different people/books.
I can give you a long list of books that, at their core, were launched the same way (minus some tweaks here and there), and they didn’t all hit the bestseller list. Part of it is the author, part is the topic, part is just what’s going on in the world. I’ve known authors who were wonderful authors but awful speakers, authors who looked the part and had little to say and authors who weren’t “camera ready” and got little play because they were rough around the edges. I’ve had an author bumped because a plane was landing without all of its wheels and another author bumped because, yep, another plane story won out.
A few weeks back, I wrote about what does always works.
That’s where you have to start.
From there, look at what your favorite authors have done and make it work for you.
Adjust it a little every day, but do it every day.
I know. It’s not your thing. You want to write. Trust me. A little every day.
Here’s a small example:
Mary Doyle comments on almost all of our posts. I had no idea who she was years ago, but now . . . When Mary has a book ready to publish, I will buy a copy and let friends know about the book. Why? First, I expect it to be good and second, because Mary always shows up, is kind, and is a person I like. That didn’t come over night.
Don’t think this is just for authors you want to get to know. You’d be surprised to find that your neighbor runs the book club of 1,000 grandmothers at the local mega church, or that your kid’s teacher is a bestseller writer using a pen name. These connections are all around us.
You have to put yourself out there (or hire someone to do it for you).
In a worst-case scenario, that person might just save your life.
True story (though not 100% accurate because . . . memory and age):
A family friend survived the Bataan Death March all because of a cigarette.
He was an officer facing a Japanese soldier. He’d already been captured, but still handed a cigarette to the soldier. The soldier wasn’t high in his chain of command. A regular foot soldier. He couldn’t help the American officer and the American officer knew it. He just had a cigarette and offered it. The soldier took it. Later, during the march, the officer fell. The person who helped him? The soldier to whom he gave a cigarette.
What the officer did was no different from what he might have done on the streets of his North Carolina home, but this time? Saved his live.
Put yourself out there.
A little every day. Might help share your book. Might help save your life.