Sunday, June 10, 2012

Publishing is Like Jumping Off a Cliff

Yes, publishing is like jumping off a cliff, but hopefully the book industry hasn't sucked the hope out of you that something will make you take flight. For me last month, that was a parachute and a paragliding instructor strapped to my back. As I was flying thousands of feet above the ground I couldn't stop smiling.
What a view you get soaring above all the others who didn't dare! It's just like putting your book out there in the world. You're going to gain life momentum by taking the risk — and no matter how the flight turns out, it's a wild journey with a unique perspective you never would have enjoyed before, and you're going to land, no matter what. There's going to be turbulence, your parachute is going to deflate and your stomach will sink as you free-fall, but the wind will eventually catch you (hopefully).

Top Ten Ways Paragliding is Like Publishing

1. ANXIETY: You take a curvy journey to the top of a cliff. Your stomach is turning from the motion and the anxiety, you're nervous as hell and not sure if you're brave enough to be doing this. Ditto.

2. PATIENCE: You stand at the edge of a cliff watching the windsocks, just waiting for the perfect gust. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Like authors with manuscripts, whether it's waiting for an agent to see the market potential for a book, or waiting for the media to grab hold of your idea, you wonder at times if it will ever happen, or if you'll just stand there all rigged up, looking stupid. 

3. PREPARATION: When the wind (or the market) begins to come alive the instructor (or consultant) behind you yells in your ear, "Run! Run! Run!" And adds, "Even when you're in the air, keep running!" "Publish! Keep going. Don't stop until you have books in your hand and in stores internationally."  

4. LAUNCH: You run hard. As your chute tries to hold you back (your fear?) you feel like you are running in place, not gaining any ground. Then suddenly, whooosh. Your feet keep running, your arms keep pumping, until the wind slaps you in the face and realize, "Holy $^@&, I'm flying!" After years or writing, months of editing, weeks of packaging — the book is available to the public. The feeling is a bit similar to weightlessness when you see your name in a store.

5. PERSPECTIVE: The view from up above the treetops is awe-inspiring. To have taken the risk and run until you could have crashed, is a rush of adrenalin and pride. Ditto.

6. REALITY: You are so high, you feel mighty, yet you are a tiny speck in the sky. You are one of ten million books on Amazon.

7. FLEXIBILITY: The winds of change are blowing, adjustments may need to be made. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and others have big wind machines. Dealing with the newest technology and the newest distributor war may not be easy — learning how to flow with the wind, instead of trying to run against it, is essential to success.

8. EXPERIENCE: Being strapped to a professional really helps in all aspects — from launch to adjusting to turmoil, to landing. Ditto. Someone who has jumped off the cliff for many years, strapped to many different people, is the best source of advice and assistance.

9. LANDING: Landing is the same as jumping. Ditto. The instructor tells you, "As we approach the ground, keep your head up and start running. Keep running, your feet will hit the ground and you will continue to run." The book, finally in your hands, marks the beginning of your marketing journey — you hit the ground running (because you had been running long before the flying apparatus was even in sight). 

10. ROI (Return on Investment): The memories are worth every penny. I will not recoup my financial investment paid to the Paragliding Company, but the kids and I sure do feel proud of what we did. That pride is priceless. Having a book on the bookshelf with your name on the spine will always make you feel proud for what you have accomplished. Maybe it was just a high-flying, deep-dipping, nauseating ride — but yet an experience of a lifetime, and the beauty of publishing is the story may be enjoyed for many more lifetimes.  

* * *

LIFE IS SHORTjump, or publish your book, while you can. Inspire others with the sheer enjoyment of your life and the fulfillment of your dreams.

We watched a beloved family member fight brain cancer for the past four months, losing the battle peacefully in her sleep last week. She went from vibrant matriarch of the family to HospiceCare in what felt like the blink of an eye. She was Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the birthday cake maker, and everyone's emergency contact number. She raised five of her nieces and nephews (including Wyatt and MacKenzie's dad). She was the brains, and the real brawn, behind her father's farm, homesteaded by their family well over 100 years ago. I wish she had put pen to paper and told her life story. Rest in PeaceSally Jean Owens ~ 1949—2012 

Wyatt paragliding.

MacKenzie preparing to jump.