I was watching a very cool show the other day with my husband. These guys had been searching for a wreck of a paddle boat from the last century. When they found the wreck, they were viewing it with an ROV. Because there were a lot of old fishing nets shrouding the wreck, along with other debris, the computer was uploading pictures, and then plotting the best course for the ROV to take over the wreck to avoid getting hung up or damaged.
The narrator explained that this was a variation of the same technology fighter pilots have been using for years. It is called “Flying by the Map”. I found the whole concept really intriguing. Take pictures of the terrain, plan out your route, then fly the route. Sounds simple. It even sounds foolproof, if anything can ever be said to be foolproof.
The concept seemed to be relevant to what I have been learning lately while writing my blog. During the 28-day Author Blog Challenge, our moderator, Laura Orsini, has given us prompts directed at helping us grow as writers, as well as helping us develop as business people approaching the publication and sale of our products.
She snuck this in on me, because I don’t have a book. Yet. If I were to write a book, I would have a wealth of information already saved and available to help me, thanks to this Challenge. That’s fine, but I know that there is a lot more to building a business than just having a product and a file folder full of good suggestions. It takes a plan. It takes an outline of steps, achievable goals, a defined purpose and a strong sense of direction. In other words: you need a Map.
Mapping a journey to sell a book. Can it be looked at the same way a pilot looks at filing a flight plan? The same way Google is flying over the landscape, taking pictures to build its online collection of maps? I thought about how I would put together a map to sell a book, and I think this list might be a good start:
- Collect the information I have saved into one place
- Review that information to put the pieces into a logical order
- List the tasks needed to accomplish each step in the journey
- Identify and assemble the tools I need
- Set reasonable goals and map out my timeline
- Sit and worry, overthink the process and second-guess myself
- Get on with it
Procrastinators steal from themselves, I know. Looking at all those bullet points makes me want to play Scarlett O’Hara, and that won’t help me get where I want to be. I don’t know if I am like most writers, but I do know that I find the writing a lot more fun than the work needed to pull it together into a product. Just like sewing: I love to sew, but I sometimes find the whole process of taking the pictures, writing the ad copy, setting the price, etc. to be drudgery. All necessary steps, but so frustrating and un-fun that I find excuses to avoid completing those steps. In fact, I usually put them on the back burner until I am behind and have to rush to get things done. That’s where item number 6 in my list usually comes in…
I hate to say this, but if I want to write and sell a book, I’m going to have to do a lot more than just think about it! Flying by the Map takes planning, effort, attention to detail and perseverance. (Otherwise, you run the risk of crashing and burning.) Just like building a bridge: you can have all the blueprints, all the supplies, all the workers. But if you don’t pull them together and use what you have in the right way, you won’t ever see the other side of the river!
Sandi Tuttle is the host of the Blog Talk Radio show “An Average Woman in a Superwoman World” (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sandi-tuttle).