Develop a Vision for Your Business of Writing
If you've joined me for the ride so far, you know the following:
- To be good salespeople for our books, we authors must believe in our books. If we believe in our work, and if we believe in ourselves, and if we believe in the path God has set for us, we can answer the call. We can start getting there. We can set out to pursue our vision with what Sun Stand Still author Steven Furtick refers to as audacious faith. And that is incredibly exciting.
- To fulfill our vision for our work, we must first develop a vision. We can start taking steps right now to build toward that vision. We can become the sole proprietors of our own businesses of writing. We can lead our own charge toward the book sales and business success we envision.
- If we're working toward our vision, and if we're building a direction and a purpose for our work as we go, then our authenticity as authors will elevate our passion for what we're doing as authors. And our passion for our work will make us better salespeople for our books.
There. Now that we've laid the groundwork, I need to be upfront with you about a couple of points before we go any further.
- Disclaimer #1: I'm writing these articles with the assumption that you've written a book, and that your book is worth selling. If you're not sure if your book qualifies as a book worth selling, you might consider taking another look at my first installment of this series: Are You Passionate About Selling Your Book? The thing is, I'm not going to teach you how to write better. The only way to learn how to write better is to write more. And I can't help you if your book isn't selling because your readers think it's no good. Sorry.
- Disclaimer #2: I don't do all of this stuff all of the time. The suggestions and strategies I write about are gleaned directly from things that have worked for me and things that have worked for other authors. You might find yourself thinking something like Jeez, you're making this sound like a full-time job! Well, if you do all of this stuff all of the time, it will be a full-time job. Adjust according to your own circumstances and your own specifications for a happy, fulfilling life.
That said, maybe your vision right now is to become a better writer. That's awesome. Now, what if I asked you to think farther than that? What's your vision for your writing after you become a better writer? Can you see yourself making a business of your writing? Can you see yourself, in fact, making a full-time job of it?
Don't be afraid to dream. That's what developing a vision is all about. Don't get distracted or discouraged by thoughts like I can't do that or I don't know how to do this or That'll never happen. Just picture your vision for now - even if you don't believe in it yet. Envision your ideal, and pray for the power to carry it out. Commit your direction and your purpose to heart. Then start moving in that direction - maybe one step today. Maybe your first step today is to decide what it will take to take your first step next week, or next month, or next year. Maybe your first step is just to decide that you will take a step forward.
A few years ago, Michael Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, said just about everything I could ever want to say on the topic in his post called "Why Vision Is More Important Than Strategy." Hyatt knows a thing or two about setting goals and selling books, and he lays it all out there in practical, applicable steps that anybody can take at any time.
While it's all good stuff, I'm mostly in love with his suggestion to write down our visions in present tense. This might be the all-time best discourse I've ever read about goal-setting, and this is my favorite part:
"[I]f you think about strategy (the 'how') too early, it will actually inhibit your vision (the 'what') and block you from thinking as big as you need to think. What you need is a vision that is so big that it is compelling, not only to others, but to you. If it’s not compelling, you won’t have the motivation to stay the course and you won’t be able to recruit others to help you."
Sure, it's scary to think that big. That's where a leap of faith can turn a dream into a vision... a vision you can believe in.
Once you have a solid vision - once you have that end goal in front of you, and you're conscious of it, and you see it ahead of you wherever you turn - you'll find every step you take bringing you closer to it. Once you start to view all the input you receive in terms of how it relates to achieving your purpose - how you can turn your book into your business - you'll see your vision everywhere. You'll learn things without meaning to; you'll hear people talking about things you never listened to before. You'll find yourself becoming intuitively aware of every little opportunity to advance. You'll see sudden, unexpected chances to gain a yard here... to grab an inch there... to make a giant leap out of nowhere.
Don't ignore your gut. Listen for the little voice in your head. Become receptive to the gentle nudges you feel. Begin to train yourself in the habit of filtering your business sense through the guidance of the Spirit in you. As Furtick puts it: "Ignite the ordinary."
Does it feel strange to ask God for business advice? It shouldn't. It's not about what we do; it's about how we do it. You might find that your actions come easier and your vision becomes clearer. You might find that smart decisions come to you on their own and right choices aren't even a question anymore.
I know this because it's been happening to me for about five years now. All those pieces of the professional development puzzle that I've picked up from previous years? They're all falling into place left and right, all around me, and I can't even pretend I don't see the path forming ahead of me.
Now, I'm a bit of a skeptic by nature. I still think I'm crazy. God's will at work in my work? That's just crazy... and amazing and exciting and terrifying. And I've never felt so in tune with my work, my direction, and my purpose. So I think I'll keep doing what I'm doing.
Hyatt said it best: "Don’t get hung up on how you will accomplish your vision. Just believe God and watch it come to pass."
Do you believe everything happens for a reason? When was the last time you had one of those serendipitous business breakthroughs where you felt like you were in the exact right place at the exact right time?