I’m one of those people who believes people should take a shot at achieving their dreams. I’m also a realist, which means I know that the overwhelming majority of people aren’t ever going to come close to giving it a shot? Maybe it’s you; I don’t really know or not. I do know I’m right on this though, and I’m going to talk about in the context of trying to write a book.

Climbing Rainier in 1981...I believe.
Creative Commons License Andrew E. Larsen via Compfight

You want to know something? Writing a book can be difficult. Trying to market one is even harder. Unless you’re a big name, have lots of money to swamp both social and regular media, or happen to be writing about the topic of the day (who will put out the first Caitlyn Jenner book?), you’re going to have a hard time selling your book.

When I wrote my first book, Embrace The Lead, I sent it out to lots of publishers, and those who responded all rejected it for one reason or another. Strangely enough, none of them rejected it because they thought it was bad. All of them rejected it because they said they weren’t sure how to market it. The only one who might have known how to market it, Ken Blanchard of One Minute Manager, did read it and said it wasn’t his type of book, though he agreed with what I said; hey, I’ll take that.

Thus, I decided to sell the book on my own, to self publish it. There didn’t exist all the online sites back then where I could create a print on demand book, so I paid a printer to create 300 paperback books and pushed them on my website and at speaking engagements. A few years later, when one could convert books to pdfs, I started selling it online at a lower rate. At this point I’ve made my money back because of the pdf, but I still have two full boxes of paperbacks stored in the master bedroom.

Luckily, I did learn a major lesson from the first one. The other products I have are all electronic, so people can download them instead of my having to have a lot of inventory sitting around. My seminar series Keys To Leadership started out as a CD set, and I sold a few of those at live presentations and a couple online, but once I learned how to convert them into electronic files they’ve done a little better. Luckily, I only created enough CDs to take with me when I needed them; whew!

Here’s the thing. Every time you create something and you decide to put it out into the public, it takes a big chunk of your heart to do so, to take a chance that no one will buy it or even go to look at it. The gaps between selling anything or not selling a thing can be long; sometimes you don’t sell anything. Well, maybe that’s not quite true, but a couple of things I have I haven’t sold a lot of them. When that happens, some of those pieces of your heart don’t even come back.

Sounds pretty sad doesn’t it? It is, but it isn’t. See, there are lots of folks who have been in the same place as me, and some of them have had wonderful things happen after a lot of trial and error or rejection. The most famous of course is J.K. Rowling, who had multiple rejections from publishers who didn’t even read the book.

Every single writer has had someone reject what they’ve written. A recent book I purchased is The Motivation Manifesto by Brendan Burchard. He’d had two books that had been New York Times bestsellers, but his publishers for whatever reason didn’t like this book. After some tough negotiations he was able to wrest control of the book, went with someone else, and the book ended up at the top of that list just as he thought it would.. Thus, it proves that even with a name and previous success, sometimes there will be someone who will fight you on what you want to do.

The truth is that being ambitious takes a strong resolve, a strong heart, and a willingness to suffer if it happens because you know that the best could be just around the corner. I’ve had some big “ups” and some low “downs”, and trust me when I say I’ve had more downs than ups. But the ups have been outstanding and the lows… just a part of life here and there.

This type of life, being an independent consultant, creating products and putting them out, trying to call people who don’t want to talk to you, writing people who you know probably won’t read what you’re sending them… you have the option of letting it crush you, depress you, beat you down and make you quit… or you can keep fighting the good fight, taking action you hope will not only help you get by but take you to untold heights.

I still have a goal to have $10 million in the bank by the time I’m 65. Ambition is for the strong; I hope I’m strong enough to hang in there. Are you strong enough to hang in no matter what it is you do?
 

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