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This is a genius and/or terrible idea

By June 6, 2023December 15th, 2023No Comments

Me looking at the people looking at ‘The Milkmaid’

This is a genius and/or terrible idea

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I’m about to launch a book.

The pre-launch work can feel like doing jazzercise in a dark basement. There’s a lot of sweating and hand-waving going on, but it’s unclear what’s happening and if it’s making any difference at all.

Luckily, I look amazing in 70’s style leotards. I’m basically the Richard Simmons of the personal growth world.

With 21 days to go until June 27th, I should be inviting loyal readers to help (which, of course, you can) … reaching out to and knocking on the doors of Highly Influential People … sorting out web pages (✅done) … trading keynote speeches for bulk book purchases (hit reply if you’d like to find out more) … and above all, fretting. It’s a time of grind.

Me? In what seemed like a good idea twelve months ago when I planned this, and contrary to the list above, I’m taking a break.

I’m in Amsterdam with Marcella. We’ve gone to see the Vermeer exhibition, wandered around the canals, had a stroopwafel or two, and gone to the Maurishaus in The Hague (the highlight of the trip for me, with cocktails here a close second).

What was I thinking?

Is this genius, or is this a terrible idea? It’s probably a mix. But I’m leaning towards genius, and not only because I want to reassure myself that this was a good idea.

Here are three reasons why it might be good to pause the grind and take the pressure off.

1. Play the long game

It’s very easy to convince yourself that a book’s launch is *everything*. In part, that’s a hangover from the world of traditional publishing, where after they’ve launched your book, they’re on to the next one. They never have a strategy for their backlist (books a year or older) rather than wait/hope/see.

But there’s probably some wisdom gleaned from the metaphor of the rocket that uses up much of its fuel in the first minutes of its journey as it seeks to escape the pull of gravity. There’s a LOT of noise in the world of books. Every author is hoping their book rises above the clamour and becomes a signal.

But in either case,  I’m trying to write books that are still read, still useful, and still selling ten years from their launch date. So the launch of the book is more akin to the start of one of those three-day adventure races rather than the Olympic 100m race. Start as well as you can, of course, but the real game is the long game …

(I’m also quite sure that Future Me thinks spending a great time with Marcella is a far more important thing than a book launch. That’s the most important game I’m playing.)

2. Growth comes from stress and recovery

I’ve had a few friends release books recently, and for the most part, they’re utterly exhausted. They’ve given the launch their all, and I suspect they’re now in a dark room in the fetal position. They’ve done brilliantly, but it’s taken a toll.

You’ll know that in the world of fitness, stamina and strength are built by finding the right balance of stress and recovery. Too much of one or the other, and you break.

I’m planning on championing this book for another year at least, probably longer. I’ll need strength and stamina for that. This break, and others I’ve got planned in the coming year, will help me keep going.

3.Trust the team

What makes this book launch different from all of the previous ones is the team behind it. It’s small but it’s mighty. (It includes The 108 Irregulars too, which you’re very welcome to join – I’d love to have you.)

We have a strategy with four things we’re trying to do well, and different people on the team are responsible for different things. It’s a delightful surprise for me that I’m not being allowed to go to my default – “Give it to me, I’ll do it” – when a task comes up. Rather, the right person on the team takes the task, and I get to trust them and celebrate them.

Celebrate the nap!

One of my best inheritances from my Dad is the ability to fall asleep almost instantly, almost anywhere. While that’s resulted in a scary moment or two while driving (🚗😱), it means that I’m a world-class napper. Seven minutes before a call? No worries. That’s at least four minutes for a micro-nap.

I’m feeling like Amsterdam is a gouda-flavoured nap. I can lift my head, remember what’s most important, reset my nervous system, take a big breath, and get ready for what’s next.

Onwards and upwards.

(And thank you again for your support.)

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.