Launching a book is like training for years to line up in a single 400-meter dash. You wake up on launch day and sprint out of the blocks: tweeting, sharing on Instagram, doing podcasts, basically promoting like crazy. But partway through the sprint, you realize you are running a mile. You’ve got to make it through the whole day. At the end of the day, you realize you’ve got to keep going. Publishers love to look at the first week’s results. You keep going, realizing you are running a 5k. When you are nearing the 5k finish, you realize, it’s not over. You are actually in a half marathon. And on and on this cycle goes. Because the best books aren’t defined by their week one, or even their month one sales. They are the books that sell well over the long haul. (Peak Performance and The Practice of Groundedness had solid week one sales, but neither were earth shattering. But those books still sell a bunch of copies every week, outdoing many of the books that came out around the same time and had much hotter starts. It’s like the marathon runner who goes out slow and steady and passes everyone who went out too fast early on!)
Essentially, launching a book is like tearing out of the gates like you are sprinting, only to slowly realize you are in an ultramarathon that needs you to keep going in some capacity for months in order to make the book a long-lasting success. But you need both the sprint and the endurance phase to make it. So how in the world to sprint off the line without getting too exhausted over the long haul? That is the key question we try to answer as authors.
It’s easy to lose your mind during launch week. I reinstall Twitter, Instagram, and social media on my phone. I call Brad about 10 times a day. My wife wonders why I talk to Brad more than her. (Apparently Brad’s wife wonders this every day, launch season or not). I go through hits of dopamine and exhaustion from spending way too much time on the internet.
Here is what I’ve learned (and what I’m trying to practice) to keep my sanity. Hopefully you can draw from it and apply some of these insights to the big pushes in your own life.
1. Communicate and be clear.
I tell my wife and other close friends that launch day and week is crazy. I’m going to be distracted. And I let them know how long that will last, that this mayhem is temporary. Set the expectations with others in your orbit. It goes a long way.
2. Set boundaries and constraints.
When are you shutting off? How long will the crazy push last, and what does it look like to scale down? Getting clarity and setting the stage for how long the intense period lasts is important.
3. Step Away. Find normalcy.
Every day, I wake up and go for a thirty minute run without my phone. It sets the tone and clears my head. Every evening, I go on a long walk with my wife and dog without my phone. At night, I try to read a book for fun, or watch a TV show with my wife that we enjoy. Something to remind my brain to let go, that the book isn’t the only thing that matters.
4. Have a friend who provides perspective.
Brad keeps me in check. The wonderful thing about when we do “solo” books is that the other person can take on the role of coach. They are still heavily invested. They still care. But they have just enough distance since it’s not their book that they can act as the coach. The person who sees the big picture, reminds you what’s important, and to not freak out.
So there you have it. I spent a lifetime learning why pacing yourself is vital to success in my career as a runner. Now, I have to apply that lesson in a non-athletic field. I have to listen to my “coach” and not let the splits (or this case, various the sale ranks) drive me nuts. And I have to remember that this is just a short season. Soon, the importance of a solid start will be over, and I’ll find some semblance of normalcy again.
(p.s., If you haven’t yet, order a copy of the book! The early feedback from readers has been wonderful. We’re thrilled that it is finding a wide audience and that people are finding it actionable in their work life, parenting, athletic pursuits, leading others, and so much more. That’s what we were after: how do we write a message on genuine excellence and sustainable success that helps as many people as possible.)
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