The reason publishers are signing authors who have built their own platforms is the same reason YouTube sensations are appearing on car commercials. It’s because they’re not waiting to be picked.*
These people are choosing to start in spite of the fact that no one’s given them permission. And this is what makes them so attractive. These are the trail-blazers, the trendsetters, and true difference-makers of our day. They’re the ones “crazy enough to change the world.”
And you could be one of them, too. If you would just stop waiting.
We all want to be picked
Of course, this is natural — the desire to be chosen, to fit in with society’s standards, to be liked by the cool kids. It’s also a myth, as evasive as chasing the wind.
For every person or group that picks you, there is one (or a hundred ones) that doesn’t. You can spend your whole life trying to please them all.
Or you can focus your attention on something that matters, like finding your tribe.
You must pick yourself
The real trick is to not wait, but to pick yourself. To “turn pro” in your head (as Pressfield says). To believe you can do what you’re asking others to believe about you.
That’s how you become “legit” in the eyes of others. Not by waiting for acknowledgment, but by acting as if you already have it.
The crazy part: When you do this, you get the permission you’ve been waiting for. Not by asking for it, but by proving yourself. The paradox is you get what you’re desiring when you stop desiring it.
In other words, the less concerned you are with appealing to an audience’s sensitivities, the more appealing an audience will find you.
It’s the classic “cool guy” routine that gets the girl every time by acting as if he’s not interested. Of course, he is. He’s very interested in her. But he moves on with his life as if he’s not.
And she finds him absolutely irresistible.
Our heroes do this
This is what we love about our favorite movie actors and athletes and rock gods. They don’t care about the system. They care about creating art or breaking rules or just being themselves. They are above reproach, have somehow transcended the need for acceptance.
Of course, we know this can’t be true.
We have read enough biographies and seen enough interviews to know that our heroes are just as human and insecure as we are. They just do something different with their fear. They don’t let it debilitate them. They choose to create — and ship — anyway.
And if they can, maybe you can, too. Maybe we all can.
Need help getting started? Check out my eBook You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). It will teach you everything you need to know about building a platform and bringing the gatekeepers to you. Find out more here.
What is something you’re waiting to be picked for? Share in the comments.
*Hat tip to Seth Godin for giving me the language to articulate this idea.