Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Rusty Nail 600

Since the Rusty Nail 500 ended in late August I've visited Wisconsin four times, Michigan twice, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. I've done sixteen events, and dropped in 86 bookstores.

That brings the total number of bookstores I've visited to 590.

Today I'll visit four more, and tomorrow I'll be in Wisconsin again for Murder in Muskego along with David Morrell, Tess Gerritsen, Blake Crouch, John Connolly, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Libby Fisher Hellmann, among others. Come if you can.

During my Wisconsin trip, I'll visit six more stores, which will make my 500 tour reach 600.

That's a lot of bookstores.

I get asked a lot, "Was it worth it?"

This question is wrong. The correct question should be, "Is it worth it?" Because the tour will never truly end.

I may never do something as intensive or dramatic as 600 stores in six months. But as long as I'm writing books, I'll be stopping in bookstores. Because it is worth it.

As much as I'd rather be doing other things.

Which brings up today's blog topic: excuses.

As people who get paid to lie for a living, writers are experts at rationaliztion. There are always reasons we didn't make the deadline, didn't answer the email, didn't do that last booksigning.

In my last blog entry, I stressed the importance of setting goals that you have control over.
  • Stay at a signing until you sell ten books.
  • Meet thirty new people at a conference.
  • Write 2000 words a day.
  • Drop in 100 bookstores.

These goals are attainable, because they are specific and depend upon a direct effort on your part.

But even if we set goals like these, we usually factor in for comfort. Selling ten books at a signing is easier than selling twenty. Visiting 100 bookstores is easier than 150. We rarely push ourselves to our limits.

This is sad, because we can only learn our limits by going beyond them.

Unfortunately, that involves a lot of time and energy. So we aim low in our goals. We do the barest minimum, and then make excuses. We justify our actions.

In short, we say "can't" when we really mean "won't."

A lot of people think I enjoy self-promotion. They think I'm good at it because I have some sort of self-promotion gene. They tell me, "I can't do what you're doing."

They're wrong on all counts.

I never knew what I was capable of until I pushed myself. And I pushed myself not because I enjoy it, but because I'm ambitious and determined to succeed. I work hard at it. I work so hard at it, I've been accused of setting the bar too high. I've been accused of doing the publisher's job for them. I've even been accused of bringing about change for the worse in the publishing world, where publishers demand that authors self-promote. I've made some people very angry.

If you feel that way, who are you really angry with? (Hint: check a mirror.)

I believe that all writers should push themselves. Your goals should be out of your comfort range. You should quit limiting your potential and instead see how far you can go. This doesn't just apply to writing. This applies to life.

Stop saying "can't" and watch how far it takes you. It took me to 600 bookstores.