It’s amazing, being a mother of a toddler, how much this little girl has taught me in just the 1 1/2 years she’s been with us. What’s even more amazing is that many of those lessons can be applied to self-publishing.
Lesson #1: Anything worth doing takes time. My daughter has been a little slow in using “big people” words, until recently. In fact, up until a few days ago, she would refuse to say words we knew she knew how to say. I can only guess the reason behind it was she wanted to be sure she could say it right before putting it out there for everyone to hear. In self-publishing, throwing your work out to the general public before you’ve refined it to its best is a very bad decision. It’s bad for sales, bad for your reputation and bad for other self-publishers’ reputations. If you think it’s worth publishing, then take the time to do it well.
Lesson #2: Learn to have patience, with yourself and those around you. Tiny Tot, as we affectionately call her, can throw some of the best tantrums when she loses patience with a toy that isn’t doing exactly what she wants. She’s actually lost patience with herself, not the toy. Thankfully, Grandma has helped her cope with those moments by teaching her to tell herself that it’s okay, with a little patience she’ll be able to do what she is trying to do. (We now hear her repeating “okay” to herself on those occasions.) As a self-publisher, you want to make it all happen right now, but that’s not the way it works. It takes time to build a fan base, time to build your email list. Everything takes time and that’s okay.
Lesson #3: Sometimes it helps to explain what you’re doing. Refilling a sippy cup of milk used to cause a melt-down. She was getting what she wanted, more milk, but she didn’t understand what had to happen to get it. Since we began explaining each step as we do it we’ve managed to avoid those tantrums. I’ve found gathering support for my self-publishing venture easier to gain when I explain exactly what it is I’m doing along the way.
Lesson #4: If you’re having a hard time making anything do what you want, take a nap (or at least a break). When my little girl starts throwing tantrums over the smallest things, a piece of paper she can’t fit into a bottle or the opening of the freezer instead of the refrigerator (she’s still working on how to make her wants known), I know it’s time for some downtime, be it a nap or just a drink and some quiet rocking time with Mama. I understand where she’s coming from because when I get tired and/or frustrated with a project I know it’s time for a break — or to go to bed when I’m burning the midnight oil. Coming back to a project refreshed means being able to look at it from other angles and maybe finding a solution I didn’t see before.
Lesson #5: You can do anything you set your mind to so long as you believe in yourself. Tiny Tot has done some things I didn’t think she’d be able to. For example, at eleven months old she said her first (and only to date) complete sentence. She asked her Grandma, “Can I do that?”, meaning she wanted to help Grandma re-load the dishwasher. If her Grandma and one of her aunt’s hadn’t also heard her say it, I would have believed my mind was playing tricks on me. She didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be able to do that, but she did it. Self-publishing can be like that. There are a lot of experts who say you can’t do better than break even by self-publishing; however there are people doing just that. In fact, it’s said that self-published fiction books (especially in eBook form) are the least likely to be purchased and yet Independent Authors like Joe Konrath are doing quite well. These people have been told they “can’t” do what they’re doing. They just don’t accept that they “can’t.”
I’m glad I’ve taken the time to get to know my little girl because she’s given me some wonderful tips. Listening to what my toddler teaches has made my life, and my self-publishing career, a richer experience on The Road to Writing.