Let’s be honest here, sport and creativity generally share an awkward relationship similar to that of chalk and cheese. Peaceful as it may be, it is a coexistence that typically shares little in terms of common values. Few writers would disagree. And yet, when you step back and look at things from a different perspective, there is actually a lot that you can take from the sport if you are planning to publish a book. Here are five lessons that every writer can benefit from.
1. It’s a game of strategy
Strategy is crucial to success in any sport, although it matters a whole lot more in some than in others. When it comes to rugby, for example, it takes a serious amount of strategy (not to mention brute force) to overcome the competition and emerge victorious. And it is essential to be dynamic too. Simply developing a model of play and sticking with it is a recipe for failure – the strategy needs to constantly develop and evolve, as well as be able to adapt to each opponent on a match by match basis. There will be elements of play that work exceptionally well, and these can be retained, but there will also be things that simply don’t work, which need to be corrected. Unless you are at a level far superior to even your nearest rival, there is little to be gained from repeating the exact same tactics and expecting different results.
If you are struggling to finish your manuscript, take some time to analyse your approach to writing and understand what is working for you and what is not, then look at how you can adjust things to improve your productivity. Consider when and where you write, as well as more complex issues such as how you develop plots, characters, timelines, etc. Read around the craft to discover new techniques that you could potentially add to your strategy and give them a go. If they work, great; if they don’t, cross them off and move on.
2. Persistence pays
Just as with any sport, there is no doubt that luck can play a part in success as a writer. But the reality is, it is persistence that wins games and tournaments and few sports serve to illustrate this better than rugby. The sheer persistence required to simply hold one’s position and not relinquish the lead is impressive – and a highly accurate metaphor for the world of writing. In such an incredibly saturated marketplace, it is harder than ever for writers not just to complete their manuscript, but to overcome the noise, stand out from the crowd and get their work in front of the right people.
However, with enough tenacity, it is still possible to get fantastic results. Combine persistence with strategy as described in the previous point to get your work out there and build momentum.
3. Never underestimate the power of the underdog
One of the most exciting aspects of rugby is its unpredictability. It really is a game where the unexpected can happen and the underdog can overcome the odds to come out on top. Not by chance, but by applying the principles of strategy and persistence. Because of the unique nature of creativity, the same is equally true of writing.
Now that social media and self publishing have removed the barrier to entry, with the right book there is every chance that you can succeed as an independent author and reach the big time – without the need for a major publisher to pick up your work. Of course, that’s not to say it’s easy. In order to succeed as an indie author, it is still essential to create something of exceptional quality and mass appeal, as well as to be willing to put in many, many hours of hard graft when it comes to marketing. Get it right, though, and it will all be worth the effort.
4. Communication is king
So let’s make sure that you are up to speed with the basics of rugby. You pass backward and kick forward. Seems simple, right? Now imagine that you are on a pitch with your fourteen fellow players and up against stiff competition. You win possession of the ball and… without communication, who on earth will be able to anticipate your next move to ensure the ball stays in the right hands?
Just as it is true to rugby, communication is king when it comes to book marketing. Don’t fall into the ‘please buy me’ trap. Of course, traditional advertising (often akin to begging) is important – but this is only part of the marketing equation. What really builds loyal audiences (read, people who will buy your book) is marketing activities that create conversation, which leads to people wanting to buy your book. Social media is a great tool for this, but do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Look for every opportunity to get you and your work in front of interested audiences and interact with them as you would normal human beings. Resist the temptation to go in with a hard sell.
5. Creativity counts
When there are fifteen of the heaviest, most muscular men you are ever likely to encounter ready and waiting to jump on you, it takes more than just strategy to succeed – it also takes a certain amount of creativity, and the teams that do best in rugby are those that foster a culture of creativity, where thinking outside the box and coming up with original approaches to gameplay within the limitations of the game is actively encouraged.
Book Marketing has a lot in common. Of course, all of the traditional book marketing methods should be explored, but look for the uncommon too – see if you can come up with novel (pun intended) ways to market your book that put you in the limelight and get you in front of untapped audiences. If you can be as creative about your approach to marketing as you are to your work itself, the likelihood of success is far greater.
Not sure where to start with book marketing? Struggling to complete your book? Get in touch today to talk to one of our experts and discover how wordworx can help you take your project to the next level.