why you need to start marketing your book before it's published

You have a story to share with the world. A story that will breathe life into the people who read it. The thing is, it’s not quite ready to publish yet.

So you put your head down and write and rewrite and edit and revise. When you finally have a beautiful book to share with the world, where are the readers? Are people eagerly waiting for your book’s release? Are they as excited as you are that your book is available to them to read?

They should be.

And they will be if you have prepared them.

It’s never too early to begin building readership. Before writing a first draft or even an outline, you can begin to build relationships with people who will eventually buy your books.

Good marketing is exactly that — building relationships. If there are people in the world who want to read the sort of book that you are writing, you have a responsibility to find them and tell them how they can get their hands on this book! Marketing is not a necessary evil, it’s a gift to your readers.

Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about marketing your work. The right way focuses on the readers, and the wrong way focuses on yourself. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing more on this topic. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it! I’ll also send you a guide that I wrote: {3 ways to stay inspired when you don’t feel like writing}

on finding my purpose {may you learn from my story}

“Pursue your passion!”
Which one?
I know I’ve been paralyzed by that question in the past.

I have so many interests - things I love to do, things people tell me I’m good at, and things that I can’t let go of, even if I try. How’s a girl to decide where her true passion lies?

I set aside a month to rest and reflect. A whole 31 days without actively pursuing any passion, but rather considering the things that I love, the things that drive me, and the things that have shaped who I am. I journaled, talked with close friends, and restrained myself from choosing any one thing and running with it. The last was harder than you might think! Any time I came up with an idea, I wanted to jump straight into it, sure that this was the next big thing I was to pursue. I’m really glad I didn’t.

As the end of the month drew closer, I had lots of ideas - an overwhelming number of ideas! - and still no clear direction. Until a friend exposed me to this simple concept from Tom Ziglar. He outlines a way to discover what he calls your “purpose," defining this purpose as the place where your passions, giftings, and scars converge.

Passions:

Is there a time when you didn’t need an alarm clock to wake you?
When you were working (or playing) at something that brought you so much life, that you didn’t have to think twice about rolling out of bed? The things that get you up in the morning, these are your passions.

Giftings:

What problems do people bring to you?
Think of a time when someone has asked you for help. You may not think of yourself as an expert in this area, because it comes so naturally to you, but other people do. The perspective of another person looking in can help you determine your giftings.

Scars:

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome?
The making of a scar is a painful process, but once it is healed, it becomes the evidence of triumph. If you’re anything like me, you likely want to forget that the scars (and the things that caused them) were ever a part of your life, but you earned them. Even the most difficult things in your past have prepared you for your present and will propel you into your future.

As I began to explore this idea, I was sorely tempted to focus only on the area where my passions and gifting overlapped. I didn’t want my scars to have a say in determining my purpose. But I made myself do the full exercise anyway.

I began slowly and asked myself what people say I’m good at. When do people look to me to solve their problems? For over a decade now, people have come to me to solve their sewing problems. I wrote down Costuming and Fiber Arts in the part of the diagram where “Giftings” and “Passions” overlapped because those sorts of things also excite me enough to get me up in the morning. They don’t get to go in the center of the diagram, though, because they don’t have anything to do with my Scars. Alterations landed in the lonely space reserved for “Giftings" that I’m not passionate about.

I broadened my considerations from there. Public Speaking landed in the space between "Scars" and "Giftings," but Teaching landed squarely in the middle, where “Passions,” “Giftings,” and “Scars” all meet.

As the diagram filled up, the things settling into the center nestled together into a beautiful picture of what I am uniquely suited to do and be. Looking at the words there grounds me. I feel like I know what I am created for when I look at it.

The things that hover around this center - things like Public Speaking, Fiber Arts, and Alterations - these are things I feel I should do, for one reason or another, but seeing that they are not centered gives me the freedom to let them go so that I can focus on the things that I can do better. Let someone who finds those things at their own center do them. They’ll execute them better than you would anyway. As for me, I have limited time, money, and energy; let me focus on what I’ve been created to do. I may dabble in these fringe passions as hobbies, but they cannot be my focus if I want to actually make a difference in the world and find fulfillment.

Over the coming weeks and months, you will see a shift in my brand that will reflect what I’ve learned about my purpose. I share even more behind-the-scenes glimpses on social media, specifically Instagram and Twitter. Watch my Instagram story to hear about my process, visit my Instagram feed to see what I’m working on, and stop by my Twitter for quips and contemplations.

What is your purpose?

Does reflecting on your passions, giftings, and scars help your purpose settle into place?

my sabbatical month {a peaceful adventure}

What has this sabbatical month been like?
An adventure.
Kind of like the rest of the year.

At the beginning of each year,
a single word
attaches itself to the months to come.

The word for 2016 is adventure
and so far
it has been quite a year of adventure.

This month’s adventures included
time to slow
and be present in the current moment.

~A flexible schedule that allows for
spontaneity
to love myself and love others.

~A purposeful choice to be with
the people
who are with me in my life right now.

~Giving myself freedom to be
interrupted
even when my day does have an agenda.

It’s been beautiful and I’m going to
take this peace
with me into the coming months.

What will the coming months hold?
I don’t know
except adventure and the peace I carry with me.

how to listen to the voice of criticism without letting him get you down

when you come to the end of a project … and the voice of criticism shows up

I can look at every thing I’ve made
and hear a voice whispering
what I could have done better.

This voice comes around while I’m working on a project, yes,
but its whisper is particularly obnoxious at the end
when we are looking at the finished product.

Maybe it’s because while I’m in the midst of the project
the voice can point things out
that I can fix along the way,
so it ends up being rather helpful
so long as it doesn’t get carried away.

But then, when I come to the end,
all its whispers simply hang in the air
discouraging me, and causing me
to focus on those things
I can no longer fix.

listening to other voices alongside criticism … and finding balance

While it’s all too easy to listen to the voice of criticism,
there are other voices that try to add their two cents
as I examine my finished work.

These voices remind me of problems I overcame,
details I executed well,
and above all, moments of joy
that I experienced in the process of making.

I must choose to listen to them,
for they balance out the voice of criticism.

Is criticism right?
Does this whisper speak truth?
Usually.
But it isn’t the whole truth.

Don’t throw out criticism —
he can be very helpful
if you don’t let him drown out all other voices.

Set him aside for a moment.
Let him sit down quietly
while you listen to the other voices clamoring for attention.

Gather the truth from all of them
and pull them together into a balanced whole.

Yes, there may be room for improvement,
but there are also many things you have done well.

Bring these into focus
and you will find the criticism
is not so daunting and taunting.

drawing strength from criticism … and learning how to improve

Now that you have found your balance,
shift your focus again to the voice of criticism.

Listen to what he says
and sort out what may be true in his words.
Use them as a tool of discovery.

Let criticism teach you
and help you to identify areas
where you can learn and improve.

This room for improvement
can open up a beautiful realm of possibilities
if you choose to step into it bravely.

It has been said that courage
is feeling the fear and doing the thing anyway.

I have been afraid of this voice of criticism
but I find that when I am courageous
and face that fear I feel,
I am able to push through,
trying things I may never have attempted.

Criticism may be a harsh teacher sometimes,
but if you become a good student,
he will soften.
His voice will become gentler
when he finds that he does not need to raise his voice
in order to make you listen to him.

remembering that I’ve improved before … and will continue to improve

One way to encourage the voice of criticism
to not be so harsh
is to remind him that you’ve taken his words to heart in the past.

Point out to him and yourself
those things about this project
that demonstrate your journey of improvement.

That technique that used to be so difficult,
but that you executed so well this time around.

A mistake that you caught in time to fix,
one that no one would guess you made at all because it’s invisible now.

Notice these things
and take time to smile at them.
This is evidence of who you are:
an artisan, constantly improving your craft.

Now, an artisan constantly improving her craft
will welcome the voice of criticism
and allow him to teach her.

This is evidenced by your past improvement,
so take this truth with you as you leave this project
and go to the next.

Let the positivity that you now associate with this project
inspire and comfort you with the knowledge
that you will continue to grow.

Begin something new,
and let the voice of criticism guide you to do the job well.
The process never truly ends, though a particular project might,
so never let the voice of criticism paralyze you.

Only allow the voice of criticism to speak
so long as he is pushing you to be better.
Only listen to his voice
so long as you are pushing through fear to accomplishment.

Let him do his job, but don’t let him get you down.