Letters from the Real World: It’s all in your head. Really.

By Cait Reynolds

I need a vacation. Seriously. I’m not even two months into my career as a full-time writer, and I’m exhausted.

I am working seven days a week, ten hours a day, and the rest of that time, I’m thinking and worrying. I swear, I haven’t sweated work like this since the late 90’s dot com era, when you couldn’t go to lunch because you might miss a paradigm shift.

This is a marketing mindset at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday. No, it is not pretty. Yes, those are my pajamas.

This is a marketing mindset at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday. No, it is not pretty. Yes, those are my pajamas.

There are times when I’m trying to format a blog post, and the thing just won’t work. If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of 10,000 tables being flipped. There are days when I wake up (assuming I’ve managed to get any sleep), drag myself over to my cup of coffee, and still in my pajamas, sit down to start checking email…at 7:00 a.m. My last email check is at 11:00 p.m. My head is full of tracking, tags, new publishing paradigms (see, that’s what I get for taking lunch once back in the spring of 1999), publishing and distribution schedules, marketing plans, and oh, right, the actual plot lines of the books I’m writing in my easygoing new lifestyle of writing from home.

I’ve tried twice before to do this full-time writing thing in my life. Both times, I failed miserably because I didn’t produce the work, and when I did, it didn’t sell. There were other factors like undiagnosed ADD and family crises that played into it, but at the end of the day, I was not succeeding as a writer.

Oh, I was committed to the writing. I was committed to the craft. I was a special little snowflake with talent, and if I just produced, I’d win.

The problem was, I wasn’t committed to the business of being a writer. I had some vague notion that I had to blog, and I would post announcements to Yahoo Groups about my books, but that was it. Truth be told, I didn’t have a F&%^NG clue.

They say the third time is a charm, and I’m betting on it because this time, I’m doing it right. I am Cait Reynolds, Incorporated. I am small business. I have a sales team, a marketing department, a finance department, a creative department, an IT department, and an account management team. Funnily enough, they all look like me. I am a start-up with my own dot com to prove it (http://caitreynolds.com). I even have a board of directors for overall reality checks and guidance which conveniently happens to be me and my husband. My personal assistant is small, fuzzy, and currently snoring on the sofa. He’s not much use, but I keep him around for comic relief.

Before you build a website, before you set keys to keyboard, you have to commit to being a business if you’re going to make a living as a writer. You have to do your research. I spent three solid weeks reading about the publishing industry and author marketing. I still read a lot about it every day, even though it puts me behind in the reading competition I’m having with my cousin (we traded book lists, and there’s a bottle of Veuve Cliquot at stake for the one who finishes first). You have to be ready to work like a dog. Well, not my lazy ass dog, but you get what I mean.

Here’s the kicker.

You can’t give up. When you’re setting things up and getting started, it’s very easy to be motivated and push through the initial difficulties. It’s when you get to the sticky middle where it’s all kind of doughy and uncertain that you have to  keep fighting. I’ll admit that right now, I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed and fairly terrified. There’s just so much.

There’s so much to do, so much to learn, so much to scramble for. I’m drinking from a fire hose, trying to stay organized, and even find time to write somewhere in the midst of trying to sell my writing. Here’s the thing, though. I’m not giving up. I’m closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and having faith. I will get through this. This is just the start. I will figure all this out. I will be successful. I can’t do everything in one day. I will just keep working at it and going at it until something gives way, and I hit the first tipping point.

That’s the difference. Before, I was a writer. Now, I’m a business.

It took a long time, a lot of soul-searching, doubt and commitment phobia therapy to get to this point. You might have an easier time getting there by checking out Lori’s helpful and logical video: http://www.bookpromotion.com/author-marketing-mindset-debunking-myths/

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