There is an old adage that the two certainties in life are
death and taxes. There are, however, two more adages that you can bank on. One, times change, whether we like it or not. Two, it is up to you to create the survival guide for the modern era and to keep it updated. In short, adapt and learn to adapt or face the consequences. You can bet money that the best blacksmith in town had fallen on hard times by 1915 if he hadn’t added automobile repair to the services offered.
The Fred Harvey Company pioneered development of hotel and restaurant chains. They didn’t, however, rest on their laurels after dominating the railroad hotel business in the southwest. They developed tours, added buses, and began marketing to tourists traveling by automobile.
As an author I have, with a degree of success, made the transition from typewriter and carbon paper to word processor. Marketing, a crucial skill for the writer that is going to transition from hobbyist, is another matter. There are indications that I have been somewhat successful in regards to shameless self promotion. As an example, yesterday I learned that Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town is going into a second printing even though the book was released this past April.
Self promotion in the modern era is a double edged sword, a blessing and a curse. Developing international name recognition has never been easier, or more time consuming. First, there is the learning curve that never seems to end resultant of rapid and dramatic technological developments. Next, is choosing what platforms to utilize, learning how to use them, and then developing each one as a component, a link in a chain. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and a multitude of bewildering options will consume a day faster than hoisting a beer or two with old friends at the neighborhood tavern.
As I gear up to promote the next book, 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die and valiantly strive to make time to work on the current book project, the ongoing need to build name recognition, to create a brand competes for a share of the limited number of hours in a day. The primary goal behind all of this work is to ensure that the habit of eating on a regular basis continues into the future. The secondary goal is to avoid the need for a real job, a nine to five sentence.
Personally, I find the challenges associated with shameless self promotion to be invigorating. And frustrating. And exciting. And fun. And enjoyable. And worrisome. And boring. And maddening.
Recently, in limited partnership with the developer of the Promote Kingman initiative, I embarked on a new chapter in shameless self promotion, a project that has as an added benefit the provision of a community service. The video series Jim Hinckley’s America: A Trek Along Route 66 debuted the first of this month with surprisingly positive reviews. I say surprisingly as both Steve and I faced a very, very big learning curve with this project. Well, now we are deep into the development of episode two and three, and episode one is available through Promote Kingman, and is sold at numerous gift shops.
Public speaking and developing presentations that were informative as well as entertaining was another challenge. After spending most of a half century learning how to go through life in delightful obscurity this skill set required a rather major shift in thinking.
As with writing itself, this too has become a rather rewarding endeavor. I should clarify that for an author the term “rewarding” isn’t always a reference to financial gain. Last year presentations were made at the 90th Anniversary of Route 66 event in Los Angeles, at the first European Route 66 Festival in Ofterdingen Germany, at a school in Bensheim Germany, at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, and at the Miles of Possibilities Conference in Bloomington, Illinois. Grand adventures, each and every one!
The greatest return for time invested are projects that provide a community service as well as self promotion. To that end I recently launched a weekly Facebook live program (still a bit rough and embryonic) and now, a podcast.
There is no survival guide for the modern era. Each and every one of us must write our own, and we must keep it updated. Aside from assuring that life never gets boring or stale, it will help you look toward the future with a bit of anticipation, regardless of age, and help prevent seeing the past as being than it really was.