About a dozen years ago, I was a brand-new radio station manager at our University. When I was hired, my boss said, “All you have to do is manage people. You can manage people, can’t you?”
I also learned that in addition to “managing people,” I was responsible for the annual fund raiser for the station, something we referred to as Sharathon. The first time we had a Sharathon, I was scared to death. I poured my heart and soul into the week-long campaign, and with a goal of $50,000 I raised a total of $8,000. I was devastated. I went to my boss and said, “OK, fire me now.” Instead, he told me that he actually thought I did pretty good for my first time out.
Another time, we were dealing with matching funds, which meant we needed to get a certain amount of pledges by the end of the hour. If we didn’t it meant that those funds weren’t matched. When my student announcer wasn’t what I considered “urgent” enough, I took the microphone away from him and made my “urgent” appeal. It ended up not making much difference, other than probably scaring a few people, including my student.
Gradually I learned that fund raising is a marathon, not a sprint. We now have a very capable general manager at the station, and I continue to learn from him as he does it in a professional manner. He does proper preparation, makes a rational, but not frantic, appeal, and then lets the product speak for itself. And every year he brings in lots more support for the station than I ever did.
There’s a lot to be said for that approach, even when it comes to book marketing. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you are trying to launch a new book, or get the numbers up on sales for a book that has been out there for a while. But you have to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And the more frantic you become, the more likely you are to scare people away.
Do your best. Write and edit the book well. Format the pages well and choose a good cover. Let as many as possible know that your book is coming out.
And then get out of the way and let your book sell itself. Don’t take it personally if sales are down for a day, or a week or a month. Instead, write another book and get it out there. Your best success will come when readers know that you can write more than one book, and that you will write it well.
Slow and steady wins the race. But you knew that already.