“All my work is really a labor of passion in things I feel I want to share with the world and typically the lessons I think I need to share most with myself.”
After Derek earned his degree in music, he did what any sensible budding young rock star would do: he moved to L.A. There he struggled to make it in music, sleeping on an air mattress for a couple of years and working as a valet parker to pay the bills.
Derek fed his other passion, health and fitness, by blogging, doing YouTube videos, and even creating a training course in his attempt to build an online income, but struggled to find traction. Then in 2012, he won a Kindle in a contest, and he discovered the wild new world of indie publishing.
Drawing heavily on his blog and video content, he published his first book in May of 2012: Excuse Proof Fitness Essentials: How To Lose Weight And Keep Slim For Life Even If You’re Broke, Busy, Or Unmotivated. He sold 3 copies over a couple of months, but he was hooked. Now that he had gotten past the first experience of writing and publishing a book, he realized he needed to study marketing.
Derek published his second book How To Stick To A Diet: The Ultimate Guide to “Hacking” Your Brain For Unstoppable Motivation, Overcoming Overeating, And Enjoying Lifelong Diet Success in the Summer of 2012, this time making an effort to step up his marketing. He focused on developing great and compelling content; enrolled in KDP Select, taking advantage of their promotional opportunities; optimized his keywords — basically tried to do everything “right.”
His results were a marked improvement over his first book, generating $100 in royalties after a KDP promo and earning reviews from readers who were not friends and family; however, Derek was uncertain as to whether or not he could make a business from his books. He had arrived at his fork-in-the-road moment, and he had to decide whether to keep going or try something else. Having two books under his belt, however, stoked a passion within that he couldn’t ignore.
Near the end of 2012, Derek attended a personal development seminar by Brandon Broadwater and decided that he would publish another book, only this time he wasn’t going to worry too much about keywords, marketing, or even making an income. He just wanted to create a book he loved and share it with the world, even if he didn’t make any money. He wanted to contribute something.
The shift in mindset from making money to making a contribution and a connection changed everything. It took Derek a week to put together 50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew: The Best Quick and Easy Ways to Increase Motivation, Lose Weight, Get in Shape from his previously created blog and video content. He spent a week promoting the book, and by Week 3, it was the No. 1 Bestseller in Weight Loss in the Paid in Kindle Store generating thousands of dollars in royalties.
“There was a lot of self-doubt, which is kind of like who am I? I’m just some dude that valet-parks cars and plays guitar. You know, is anyone really going to listen to me? Do I really have anything to say that hasn’t been said before?”
When faced with a big goal, most people feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by self-doubt…and Derek was no exception.
In getting started, Derek points out that people can’t see all the steps necessary to reach their goal and as a result often feel overwhelmed by the endeavor before they’ve even begun. It’s important to remember that you’re never going to have all the pieces in the beginning, he says; you just need some degree of certainty that you’re heading in the right direction, and then focus on accomplishing the very next step. No sense waiting until all the lights between here and where you aim to go turn green before stepping on the gas. Rev up your engine and focus on getting to the very next light.
While it’s important to follow a proven road map (perhaps through training courses or books), Derek cautions that it’s also important to make sure you get just enough information to gain certainty, but be able to subtract or ignore extraneous information in order to focus on the next step.
He also advises getting a mentor or joining a mastermind group for essential outside perspective, feedback, and encouragement.
Mentors and Masterminds
Derek has multiple coaches/mentors, and he mentors others himself. Having outside feedback is so important, he says, and can provide the level of certainty one needs to advance to the next step. He points out that most successful people, including Olympic athletes and high-level CEOs, have coaches, mentors, and advisors to help them navigate their way up whatever mountain they’re trying to conquer.
Mentors can also sniff out your BS and call you out on it when you can’t smell it anymore.
Derek recommends aspiring authors to seek out help, assistance, and outside feedback from a coach/mentor or a mastermind group. Cultivating that kind of relationship will accomplish most of what we’re trying to do in terms of overcoming overwhelm and doubt, he says, and helps with encouragement and accountability, which can mean the difference between the Greatest American Novel Never Written and Bestselling Author.
- Don’t fear failure or imperfection. “I look at everything I did as being necessary,” Derek says. Each failure represents a lesson, an education, and another step towards our goals.
- Write crappy first drafts. “We must have the willingness to do really bad crappy work and then make it better, and then work towards greatness,” Derek says.
- Ask for help. If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed by self-doubt or just unsure what to do next, find someone who’s more experienced to guide you and give you the necessary feedback you need to get better.
- Offer help. Reach out to other authors in your community and offer appreciation, help, and encouragement. The investment of effort will come back to you with interest and then some.
- Beat Impostor Syndrome by answering the question, “Who am I to…,” with, “People don’t buy information. They buy perspective.” Our perspectives are unique to each of us, and so we can each offer something to our audience of value that they won’t be able to get from any other author.
What is your best strategy for busting self-doubt and moving to the next step?
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