Monday, May 3, 2010

Know When You're Not Needed

There's a really great business productivity book that I just love. It's called "Cut To The Chase" by Stuart R. Levine, and it's a collection of 101 essays - each about two pages long - about how you can streamline your work and processes in business. While a lot of the essays are really specific to managers, I find that somehow they all can relate, at least on a metaphorical level, to the writing life. I use it like the I Ching - I'll open it to a random page and read the essay of the day as a bit of wisdom to ponder.

Today's essay was "Know When You're Not Needed." It was about letting your employees handle things on their own and not obsessively attending all their preparation meetings and such. But when I take it back to the essence, it actually was pretty timely for me. Here's why:

I am seriously tired tonight. Partly because the Day Job is rising to a crescendo, and partly because I've been on a creative binge. And partly because I've been trying to turn this week into a mental vacation by reading and schmoozing on a lot of blogs and forums.

Silly me.

I am tired, and I am now part of a thousand cool conversations I'll never keep up with. That didn't quite work the way I planned.

Of course it's never a waste to wear yourself out running around the internet and schmoozing, because it's good for promotion and networking. And golly I did have a sudden burst of sales on one of my ebooks, and a few more subscribers and followers here and there.

But would it have been worth doing specifically for promotion? No. The return on investment here is pretty low. But that's to be expected. That's how networking works. It's not so much an effort in, progress out kind of expense. It's more like overhead. Or dues. You have to put the time in, and it's really great if you enjoy it, but you've also got to keep a handle on it because it's non-productive, and it's never ending. It's a great time and energy sink.

Furthermore, though I'm pretty sure the new subscribers are due to my running around and making new friends, I'm positive that the burst of ebook sales is not. Not directly.

The reason the ebook started selling was because it was listed on a blog as a 99 cent special. Now, how it got on that blog could be due to all my networking, but I think it really got there because earlier I had announced it as a 1.99 special on a forum announcement topic. And the owner of that topic saw the price change on her own and moved it to the cheaper list, which was then perused by the blog owner. It all came from one effort on my part.

So all that busy-ness was not really needed to have the success I had this week. All I needed was the right effort in the right place. No need to kill myself trying to put more effort in to get more results out.

At the same time, it is worth putting in that schmoozing effort in general. I learned about the forum from schmoozing on the Amazon discussion groups, and I learned about the bargain book list from schmoozing on the forum itself. You do need to put in some of that background effort. It's just not necessary in a specific "to do list" kind of way.

So generally you are not needed in schmoozing circles. Where you are needed is at your keyboard, producing good writing, and working on necessary promotional items, such as your pitch. Don't let useful things wear you out and take time away from the really necessary things.

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