Writing a book is only one part of being an author. To make your book successful, you must also promote it and work to get it noticed. One of the most powerful methods is a pre-order campaign, which means encouraging people in your personal network to pre-order the book.
The question becomes: Why do pre-orders matter? The answer deserves a clear explanation, so I made the 90-second video below as a resource for any author or publisher. Please feel free to share it or use it in your campaign.
The lastest Ready for Rain newsletter was meant to fill in essential gaps regarding what events led us to today. Up to now, the readers have seen my life in real-time, with only brief references to the past. I wrote:
Over the past year, you’ve had a front-row seat to my life. You’ve seen Sachi and I start and complete projects. You’ve read about my motivations and decisions and, by now, have a pretty good sense of who I am. As our story has developed in real-time, you’ve been there.
Now that I’m shifting the newsletter to talk about the Big Enough book project, I’m feeling the need to build context and give readers a sense of what events shaped my career. There is probably no more consequential event than publishing the first Common Craft video. Our careers relate directly back to that event in 2007.
I had no idea at the time, but the moment I clicked “Publish” was the moment our lives changed in fundamental ways. From that point on, we started operating in uncharted territory.
Within minutes of RSS in Plain English hitting the web, it started to receive views and comments that flowed faster than we could read them. Bloggers around the world embedded the video on their blogs. Emails poured in. The video went viral and it felt like striking gold. We both lived in a state of shock for a few days. Despite it being poorly produced, the video was popular because it explained RSS in a way that everyone could understand.
Over the weekend a friend introduced me to the video below called Das Rad, which is a German term that means “The Wheel” in English. The film is known by the bland-but-accurate title “Rocks” in English versions.
The artistry and the overall concept made a big impression on me and I’ve thought about it multiple times since seeing it. As one YouTube commenter put it, “…our life cycle is to the rocks as a Mayfly’s life cycle is to us.”
The film was made in Germany and was nominated in 2003 for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Watch:
Less than a year ago, I left Seattle, a city that had been my home since 1998. I always loved the city and especially the feeling that I was a part of a big, bustling place that constantly changed. Just being outside meant being among people and vehicles and busses. There were always things to do and it sometimes felt like a race when a new bar or restaurant appeared. If you discovered it early enough or knew the secret time to go, you could beat the inevitable crowds. FOMO was a constant part of my city life.
In recent years the city seemed to change, and more than that, I changed. I suppose it has to do with growing older, but I came to see that another kind of life was possible for me and that I could be happy in a different context. I loved the bustle, but it grew less attractive over time.
This change in attitude manifested in a number of ways, including a decision to leave Seattle and move to an island off the coast of Washington State in 2019. Along with the personal side of this change, I started to think differently as a professional. In Seattle, I have many friends in the tech industry who worked for big companies like Microsoft and Amazon along with start-ups of various stripes. In the city, success is usually valued traditionally. Executives earn promotions and shares vest over time. Startups attract VC funding, a growing number of employees and the potential to make it big. Some friends have seen big exits, some are still working at it, others have moved on. This, too, creates a sense of FOMO. I sometimes felt that, despite owning a company since 2003, I might be missing out on this traditional version of success because we chose to remain a small, home-based business. An IPO was never something we saw happening.
As the idea of moving away from Seattle became a daily conversation, I felt my perspective change and with it, my perception of what represented success to me. Instead of judging my accomplishments based on peers in Seattle, I started to see that I had a choice. What if, instead of a growing startup and/or the potential of an IPO, I had the freedom to choose how I spent my time? What if I could devote myself to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle? What if I only needed a fraction of my city income to be satisfied and lead a fulfilling life?
Now that we’ve moved and my life has changed in fundamental ways, I can’t help but see that there is beauty in stepping off the treadmill of traditional measurements of success and professional expectations, and reevaluating what success means to me. This feeling is still relatively new to me and it’s not been easy to put into words. That’s why I’ve included the video below. The last part of the video (set to start toward the end) from The School of Life does a good job of presenting this alternative way of thinking. The first time I saw it, it spoke to me. Maybe it will speak to you, too.
I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.