My mom always says that a few years after I was born it was clear to her that she either had another baby or a book in her — but not both.
I always wanted a little brother, so when I was younger that story kind of annoyed me. But now I get it.
(Epilogue: She chose to birth a book, not another baby.)
A year ago today my book, Money: A Love Story, Untangle Your Financial Woes and Create the Life You Really Want, made its debut.
A year ago I celebrated that “birth” by being on the Today Show and throwing two big parties in cities near and dear to my heart: New York and Portland, Maine.
(Watch the highlight video from the NYC launch party, hosted by the generous folks at Betterment.com, HERE, and find out what Marie Forleo, Meggan Watterson, and Terri Cole have to say about it HERE.)
This year has been a big one. A really, really big one.
Getting married and launching a book in one year is a lot. I think my central nervous system is still recalibrating from the expansion.
This week I have a call with my publisher to talk about future projects. As I’ve prepared for the call it’s become crystal clear to me that I’m not the same person I was when I signed my first book contract.
I understand so much more about the creative process, about my own ebb and flow, about what it means to give something your all, and about the ways life must be reorganized to make space to create something worth creating.
Mike and I are talking about starting a family, and the parallels between launching a big creative project like a book and bringing a new human life into the world are particularly poignant right now.
I’ve dreamed of being a mom my entire life — but not just a mom, a truly present mom. I embarked on the path to create financial freedom by the age of 30 so I could create space for the little being(s) that are going to choose me as their mama.
As I look at the landscape of the next year — we run our life and business calendar from September to September because the freshness of fall feels way more new-beginning-ey than the dead of winter — I can’t help but make plans differently based on what I learned last year.
Here’s what I learned while launching my book that can apply to pretty much anything you may be wanting to birth:
1. Getting a creative project out in the world is an all hands on deck endeavor.
Going into the book process I had no idea the amount of time and energy it would require. (The writing part was the easy part for me. It was the getting it out into the world part that was a doozy.) Mike and I worked on the launch pretty much full time starting in July of 2013, and it continued at a fever pitch all the way through the spring of 2014. I’m really glad I didn’t know how much it would take because if I had, I probably would have said no to the whole thing. Could we have been more organized, more efficient, and gotten more help? Yes. But ultimately, I’ve found that getting a creation out there in a way that I’m proud of requires everything I’ve got. I’m keeping this in mind as I look at debuting other creations in the year and years ahead.
2. For most of us a book is not an efficient, effective way of earning residual income.
I talk to so many people who have a brilliant creative idea like a book. Many of them have even gone so far to write it. And most are under the erroneous impression that writing and launching a book (or other single creative work) is going to provide for them financially over the long haul. There are some people who hit the right chord of preparation and timing like J.K. Rowling with the Harry Potter series and are able to cash in. For most of us, though, even if you’re blessed to receive a book advance, it’s been spent by the time the book goes to print. And the continued sales of that book require constant care and tending. Ensuring that your book continues to sell requires getting on planes, showing up and shining at speaking gigs, pitching media outlets, guest blogging, doing interviews, attending conferences, coming up with and executing marketing campaigns, and more.
It’s a hustle and it is not for the faint of heart.
I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am that I have a source of income that doesn’t depend on my book being sold. Take home message: a book is not a business. It may be part of your business strategy, but if it’s the whole thing, you’re likely going to end up scrambling financially. Whatever you’re launching, be sure that you’re looking to see if there’s a way for you to earn recurring income from it and if so, how that actually will work.
I’m obviously a proponent of passion projects and getting your work out into the world. That said, getting serious about how money will be coming in the door and what you’ll need to do for that to happen is critically important to your quality of life.
This is why this year Mike and I are making building our network marketing business our top priority. When I have kiddos running around I do not want to have to get on an airplane and show up perfectly coiffed in order to bring home the bacon. (And I want to raise kids with Mike, not by myself while he’s providing for us outside the home.) This is precisely why we’re shifting our focus back to a grounded business that doesn’t depend on my showing up and looking and sounding good.
3. There’s always something else you could do. You have to choose when enough is enough.
There are endless ways to market a book (or anything else). There are tons of books, blogs, videos, training programs, and webinars you can study to learn how to get your work out to more people. And at some point you have to look at your life, decide what you want your days to feel like, and know when enough is enough. Round about March I realized how fundamentally tired I was and began to taper off the hustling.
4. Everything you birth has a life of its own. At some point you have to let it go.
When people ask me how it’s going with the book these days I’m thrilled to be able to tell them that it’s doing great. It’s been translated into more than seven languages (including Vietnamese and Czech – how cool!) and has sold tens of thousands of copies. We get emails and social media messages every day from people who are reading it and finding it helpful. Here’s what’s cool: I trust that the book is out there doing its thing. We laid a powerful foundation for it this year, and now all it needs to do is find its way into the hands of people who need it. And besides the occasional speaking gig, interview, and media mention, I trust that it has a life of its own and I’m not solely responsible for it at this point. Fly baby fly.
5. There’s nothing more gratifying than being of service.
Every time someone comes up to me and tells me that Money: A Love Story has been helpful to them my heart expands. Though I can’t respond to every message we receive, they’re no less touching.
As long as our own well is full there’s no better way to spend our time than doing what we can to make the world a better place. As tired I’ve felt at times during this process, knowing that this book has helped ease someone else’s path makes it worth it.
Over to you:
What are you birthing these days? What have you learned from getting things out into the world (babies, books, or otherwise) that you can share to support others in the creative launch journey? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below.