Many of us have dreamt of sailing mighty oceans and doing great wonders, of being the boss and of being a star, of making changes. To many, these remain as dreams – dreams that they go back to every now and then when reality gets too harsh and they need a feel-good escape. They then dream of living out their dreams, and then they promptly go back to reality, which is but a wall away.
Long for Fulfillment
Do you have the burning desire to see your dreams fulfilled? If you don’t, then find it. You have to really want something desperately. You need this burning desire to get you started, and to carry you through the hardships and challenges that will come your way.
How you do this is to identify your motivations. Have strong motivations to push you towards realizing your dream. What is you reward at the end of the line? Do you want your family to be well off? Do you want prestige? Do you want to be in a position to bless other people?
Based on my experience, many people start of their journey because of monetary gains. While money is important, I think it is not the best motivator. Money should be seen as a means to an end, not the end itself. Even Maslow in his hierarchy of needs did not list out money? Why? I think it’s because money is one of the means in which to achieve each level of hierarchy.
What motivations would push you to have that burning desire to fulfill your dreams? Here are my suggestions.
1. To be able to give yourself to your loved ones
2. To be the best service to others
3. To help make humanity more human
Once you are able to identify your motivation, picture it vividly. Imagine it. Ask yourself what it takes to get it. And build your courage.
And if you can’t find mistakes made by others, make your own mistakes. Thomas Edison’s light bulb idea was burnt 1000 times and yet, he was ecstatic – because he discovered 1000 ways that didn’t work.
Plan your action plan with the information that you have and take that first step. Sometimes, you can’t really plan ahead but you have to take the first step and plan while you are at it. It’s like getting lost. Sometimes, you decide to look for a map or plan out a route. But when you’re stuck, you just walk and hope that you recognize a helpful landmark.
Don’t be a victim of analysis paralysis. One doesn’t learn how to ride a bike by reading books. You have to ride a bike. The same is true with fulfilling your dreams. You have to ride it out.
Veer not from your quest
This would be relatively easier to do if you have a very strong motivation. You have to focus and the determination to see it through.
There is a story about how Sylvester Stallone wanted to be an actor so much, he wrote a story for him to act on it. He was offered a handsome amount of money but he refused because he wanted to be the actor. At that time, he needed money very badly. But he did not veer away from his quest and you know where he is now.
Explore alternative ways
Your initial plan may not have worked. Be humble enough to accept it.
Failing has received a pretty bad reputation I guess because many people have surrendered to it. But what if there are many more people who have used failure as a learning experience and rose from its ashes? Did you know how many tried AirBnB had to have before they got successful? Go check it out.
On 15th November 2015, I could claim that I’m an author: I published my very first e-book online. Titled The Tree that Grew with Pain, it’s an illustrated short story that talks about growing with pain, the meaning of pain, healing and moving forward. I was so excited to launch this and thought that it will be a best seller in no time. But nope, it didn’t. However, I learnt a lot of lessons that I can re-apply to my next book.
Here are the 10 things I want to share with you on what I learnt when I first published my e-book.
I’m not giving up on my dream. And I encourage you to pursue yours, too.
1. Don’t doubt yourself
Don’t listen to the voice that tells you you’re not good enough. True, the geniuses of Hemmingway and Austen may not come often, but you also have something in you that other people will love.
You can’t please everybody. There will always be critics but that should not stop you from publishing. Always believe that you have something good to offer. If the public thinks your work is not good enough, then that doesn’t mean that you are less of anything. It only means that your work was not good enough, but hey, it’s not you. It’s your work.
Always remember that your work is not you. You will still be liked for who you are even though they think your novel is not up to standard. Besides, people admire people who are confident of who they are. They find inspiration from the fact that these people were confident enough to go out there and offer their work to be criticized. Many secretly wish that they would also have the courage to do the same.
You’ll do fine as long as you’re confident, but not overconfident.
2. Learn from the experts
One of the things that I did was to read books on how to write and what makes a good best seller. I found a book in the local library that was great in outlining what needs to be done. The good news is that it’s online. It’s the Marshall Plan to Writing a Novel.
By reading the book, I learnt the importance of defining your genre, characters and story line. It also shared the common pitfalls for writers. This helped me become confident of what I was doing. It also made things easier for me as I knew the techniques and skills that are necessary in creating a masterpiece.
My motto: Always learn something from the experts. And experience is a good teacher, especially if it’s others’.
4. Edit and polish
I can’t count how many times I’ve read my story before I finally published it. I think I can remember almost every sentence. But you see, your final product is what will be judged. Never mind that you spent hours writing it. If they find even one spelling error, then their impression of you goes down.
If you need proofreaders or editors, you can always get hire one at Upwork. You don’t need to fork out a lot of money for this.
However, don’t be paralyzed with editing. Some people have analysis paralysis. Don’t have your proofreading paralysis.
However, there are two things you need to consider when selecting a platform
Reach and exclusivity
Some platforms do not distribute to all countries. For example, Amazon does not distribute to a lot of countries in Asia. If your target market is Asia, then I suggest that you do not sign up for KDP select which requires that you use Amazon as the exclusive distributor for your digital products.
Royalties and how you can get paid
Consider how much you’ll earn from each platform. Don’t be afraid to look out for the one that gives you the best royalty.
After considering this, make sure that you can get paid. Sometimes, bank transfers may not work in the country where you live in. Can they send you a cheque? How much is the processing fee? Make sure you consider all these before signing up and deciding on the price.
6. Click that 'Publish' button
I met many people who congratulated me when I published my ebook. For me, I didn’t do anything great. I didn’t get my work approved by an editor; I didn’t have to go to a publishing house. I just clicked a button and I became a published author.
But I realized something. Clicking that button might be the hardest thing for someone to do. Once I’ve published, I met people who told me they’ve always dreamed of publishing their work but they never had the courage. And then it dawned on me that clicking the button might be one of the hardest easy things to do.
What are you scared of? Don’t be afraid. Don’t doubt yourself. Go ahead and publish.
7. Plan your marketing
How are you going to make your book known?
8. Be a salesperson
You are the salesperson for your book. You need to go out there and sell your books.
You can print fliers about your book at give it to your friends at parties. Don’t be shy. I’m sure that as long as you don’t push it down their throats, they’d be happy to hear what you have been doing.
9. Be open to feedback. Ask for feedback.
There are things that click and there are things that don’t. Always ask for feedback and be open to them.
If you’re book is not selling, it can be one of the three things below. And you may need other person’s opinion to know what you’ve missed.
10. Don’t give up
As I’ve written before, you need to LIVE out your dreams. And part of your dreaming process is continuously trying.
Did you know that Harry Potter was not accepted the first time Rowling tried to publish it? If Rowling have given up that time, we would have missed a great story.
So if you really believe in your story, or your book, persevere. Don’t give up.
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