A few years ago, I needed an office. Not long before, I’d moved to a new part of the country, set up a lovely office in my home for a while as I got settled, but it just wasn’t working any more. I had outgrown my safe comfortable space at home. I needed to work in a central location, have meetings, set up the computer, the bookcases, all the rest of the stuff that forms my daily life as a book developer.
Oh and by the way, I also needed clients! A few had found me, and I was just beginning to do my own marketing. I was cautious, because while I wanted an office, I wanted to stay within the budget.
So through word of mouth, I heard that someone – I’ll call her Rose – was in the process of buying a building downtown, and might be looking for tenants. Okay then! I contacted her, and we emailed back and forth, looked at floorplans, all that stuff. In the course of doing that, she asked me what kind of work I do. I told her – working with nonfiction authors to develop their books: strategize, edit, and plan, so their book gets completed, polished, and out in the world.
Next thing I know, Rose is getting back in touch with me. Not to give me a space in her building. (In fact, that’s another story!) No, she wants to see if I can help her edit her professional science articles. Sure, I can do that. There’s another article first, on a deadline – can I help with that? Maybe work directly with the periodical where it will be published? Sure I can help out.
So I work with the author and the editor, the article becomes a two-part piece, and looks terrific in the magazine, and gets good feedback.
You know who contacts me then?
Rose’s editor at the periodical. She enjoyed our work together on the article, and it turns out she’s had a book of her own on the back burner for years, and maybe I can help her with that? So we did that project together.
You get the idea. There’s even another piece of this story. The first client I told you about, Rose, with the building downtown? She contacted me again, to see if I could work with someone she knew, who had a memoir. Guess what one of my current projects is!
Why am I telling you this story?
Because it’s important to listen to the messages you send yourself. Know when it is time to step out, take a risk, and trust the outcome. I left my comfortable office at home, because something was calling me to go bigger. Looking for an office led me to a small project that got bigger. Which introduced me to the next client, the editor of the periodical. And then Rose, the first client, introduced me to the memoir guy. Which has become an even bigger project.
Have you ever had this kind of experience? Knowing that it’s time to go bigger, that it’s time to step outside the familiar, take some risks, and trust that good things will happen?
I highly recommend this “Stepping out” process. This is how I found almost every client I worked with, when my business was starting up. And you know what? It works for my clients with their writing projects too.
Take the author who was feeling isolated and doubtful, just holing up and writing his book. He wasn’t sure his work would affect lives the way he envisioned. Then one day he heard about a conference on the other side of the country, found the money for an airplane ticket, and made his way there, last-minute, with a couple of copies of his draft manuscript in his bag. He met exactly the right people he needed to meet, handed them copies of the manuscript, and he forged important, ongoing professional connections right then and there. The time was right, and my client took the risk, and stepped out.
What is the most recent thing that’s been in front of you? Are you stepping out?
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