When I was a child, my parents took a road trip every year from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to visit my maternal grandparents for Christmas. A roughly 749 km, or 465 miles long trip. The journey seemed to last forever. A gruelling 8 hour trip, which would have been even longer if my parents had not planned to minimise distractions and stop offs. Boredom was my constant companion on these trips.
Some scenes were quite beautiful, with well-maintained picnic spots and some parts stretched on with almost nothing in sight. The worst was when, for a few years, we had to endure endless stretches of road construction. These trips were before the evolution of fast-food outlets that are now so common on major fuel stops. My parents planned these trips with precision to minimise what was a standard barrage of kids.
“I am hungry.”
“I need the bathroom.”
“ARE WE THERE YET?”
Like all authors, I want to fast track my path to success, but I learned a few lessons from these road trips that have helped me in my author career.
Know that the trip is going to be long and prepare your resources before undertaking it.
I never knew just how infuriating those words “Are we there yet?” were until I became a parent. My father would leave home early… insanely early… dragging me out of my bed, often at 02H00. He insisted I packed my bag the night before and waiting for him at my bedroom door. It was cold and dark and armed with my pillow and duvet, I would be fast asleep for at least the next 3 to 4 hours. These hours of silence at the beginning of the trip allowed my father, armed with a flask of strong coffee, to concentrate on the road ahead.
As an author, I realise that I instinctively gravitate towards this style in my time management. I write my best when everyone is in bed and not asking me for anything. There is just beautiful silence or whatever mood music I choose to listen to.
The second integral part of this plan was the packing of a picnic basket loaded with all the goodies that we would consume over 8 hours. From boiled eggs, to meat balls, fruit and sweets. Not only were they healthier than the typical fast-food outlet, they were instantly available and my father did not have to endure waiting for the next part of the trip while we were standing in queues at the garage shops. Over and above these preparations, my father started preparing our family car months ahead of time to ensure that we reached our destination safely, which brings me to my next point.
Do a health check on the vehicle you are using.
Most vehicle maintenance companies offer a standard road trip safety check before you leave. Smooth and worn tires face a higher risk of having a blow-out which may force you to lose a few hours changing tires or calling for help, but in a worse case scenario will injure your family and may cause the death of others on the road.
A vehicle has many moving parts that have to work together to reach the destination, just like an author should have several aspects that will lead to their success. Sadly, many authors do not do these health checks before they start the journey.
How to rate according to the author’s marketing checklist?
Do you have a website where readers can find out more about you?
Do you have an author profile on Amazon or any of the other platforms you sell books on?
Do you have a reader magnet that can help you grow your author database?
Do you have a social media presence that supports your goals?
Do you have a review team?
Do you have a launch strategy?
The challenge with this checklist is that these things take time and resources to implement and so the average author procrastinates on getting them done, which brings to mind another aspect of the self publishing journey.
Understand that it is a journey
As a child, I was enthralled with Star Trek and my favourite feature on the StarShip Enterprise was the “Energizer” that could transport you from one place to the next in the blink of an eye. I still have a secret desire to own such a device and so the 8 hour journey did not fit into my design for instant gratification. Yet, I am mindful that fantasies do not replace proper preparation and planning.
Even the crew of the “Enterprise” scouted out the land they were going to ahead of time. They had to keep their equipment well maintained and had a crew of trained personnel to help to get them to the other side. When they got there, they often had to draw on their years of training at the academy in both diplomacy and weaponry, as they had no way of knowing if the locals would be friendly or hostile.
Successful authors understand that writing the book is only the first part of the journey. So whatever stage of your self-publishing journey you are on, be mindful that it is a process and that you will have to a health check on your resources and put in the work before you can ask the question,
Are we there yet?
Hello, I am Kim Vermaak
I spent most of my adult life helping other companies build their dream and their brands.
After I turned 40, I wondered if there was more to life than taking care of children and slaving away to earn a living.
I wanted to create a legacy for my children and the next generation. I found that through my books I could celebrate who I am as well as teach others to earn a living through their writing.
Being an author is not a hobby. It is a business, and it is my passion to teach authors how to thrive in that business. I look forward to seeing your book business grow.
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