An author, on both sides of publishing

When I first independently published Creative Doing, the initial manuscript was 10,000 words (⅓ of its current length), published under a different title, as a PDF digital download on Gumroad.

A few months later, I would connect with Holloway—as a cold submission—and sign a publishing deal with them. A year after that, after much editing and development, we would publish print and digital versions of Creative Doing. I wrote about this experience more here. Some thoughts today:

  • Permission is granted after you make the thing, not before. The more ideal positioning of the question isn’t, “Can I make this?” It is “Can we work together to make this thing better?” Deliver the work first.
  • Making good work will be the thing that gets you the nice things, like thick prestige that lasts. Have faith in people; we’re not perfect, and we’re not stupid either. Brand associations and bought placements create thin prestige that dissipate.
  • If you experience a lot of self-doubt, your work is probably good enough before you actually think it’s good enough. (At some point good becomes an asymptote for people who experience self-doubt.) Find opportunities to show small parts of it to people.
  • Prepare to spend a lot of time promoting your work yourself. (More here in no specific order: working through mental blocks on self promotion, don’t be precious about promotion, share other people’s work, and depersonalize.) This will need to happen with or without a partner.
  • Making good work is like a muscle, one that wears away within days or even hours. The best thing you can do is exercise it every day. While you may publish every day, you don’t need to promote all of it; just the good stuff.

I’ll also add that working with Holloway on Creative Doing has made the book much better. Amongst many other factors—we’ve expanded the initial manuscript and made great editing decisions (thanks Rachel), explored new marketing channels, and been great sounding boards and strategists for each other. We went much further together than I would have on my own.

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