Perfectionists would be extremely benefited by learning the value of stumbling ahead. The other day, I spoke with a college student who was interested in getting into the publishing world. It was obvious she was making some great steps, as she got into contact with me by searching for whoever she could use as a resource in the Chicago area. She had the drive and she knew what she wanted to do. One of the questions she asked me was if I had any possible advice for her in her quest. My answer had to do with stumbling ahead.
I had no idea what I was doing when I first got into self-publishing. At first, I didn't even realize you could do it through Amazon and I was trying to sell the book at $10 a pop on my website. I sold a few, but I didn't know about the changing world that was out there. Authors were starting to make a killing, but mostly by pricing their books lower than those sold by major publishing companies. When I stumbled ahead toward the Kindle Direct Publishing platform and later to Barnes & Noble's Pub It! and Smashwords, I made a lot of mistakes. My original formatting was spotty, my book descriptions were crappy and my cover file was so compressed it looked like a file from the early 1990s.
Through trial and error, I eventually figured out what I was doing. The thing that put me ahead of other authors and self-published folks at that point was that I blindly pushed myself forward without knowing if what I was doing was right. If I had waited until everything was perfect, I wouldn't have any books out, let alone nine books with more on the way. Stumbling ahead was what saved me financially and creatively in the last couple of years.
Now, just because I didn't know what I was doing about half the time, didn't mean I would neglect the important stages of research and that I wouldn't plan my next step. What it meant is that when I had no idea what I should do next, I just dove forward. If I delayed my efforts at any stage of the game through nervousness or fear, I stumbled ahead. If I knew that I couldn't possibly be successful and that there was no point in even trying, I stumbled ahead. Now here I am, with over 9,000 books sold, simply because instead of giving up or deliberating, I kept my feet moving. If you make a little bit of progress every day and keep yourself from getting stuck, you're bound to accomplish some amazing things during your life. So, plan everything as much as you want, but while you're taking months and years to learn every nook and cranny about your industry, I'll be stumbling ahead. Happy stumbling!
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