The Power of Breadcrumbs

“We are like Hansel and Gretel, leaving bread crumbs of our personal information everywhere we travel through the digital woods.”…Gary Kovacs

The last few months have been rather surreal workwise and I will share a Latest News & Updates post soon but there’s something that has been on my mind the last few weeks surrounding my LAGOM Book.

We’re now up to 17 language editions (!) and I thought I just spotted a Ukrainian version recently on Instagram? I still haven’t found the right words to express the gratitude I feel for catching this wave at the right moment when it crested.

But I digress…

The number one question I get surrounding the book is how I got a major publisher.

People are curious about my proposal and pitching process. How did I land that specific publisher? Do I have an agent? (No, by the way). How did I get on their radar? Especially people who are coming across my work for the first time, or have lived in Sweden much longer than my eight years here.

Why did I get to write about Lagom?

This got me thinking about Hansel and Gretel and their trail of breadcrumbs which they left so they could be found. And more importantly, to be found by the right person.

You see, I didn’t do any of the traditional things when it came to publishing. The pitching, the book proposal, the chasing this time around.

The publisher found me because I had left them virtual breadcrumbs.

My beat is exploring culture through food, tradition and lifestyle. I have been writing about Sweden for over a decade for several high-profile publications. I contribute to Sweden’s official website and have written some of their most viral stories to date on Swedish culture. I contribute images to Sweden’s official image bank and was their photoblogger for many years, crisscrossing the country. I’ve written deep reflective pieces on Swedish culture and I’ve written more light-hearted pieces as well. I also happen to run an editorial site dedicated to exploring my stunning city called Slow Travel Stockholm.

Plus, my signature piece on Lagom for Roads & Kingdoms/Slate called “The Silence of the Swedes” which I wrote 4-5 years ago before it ever became a trend has been quoted in several articles this year.

That was the final breadcrumb that led the publisher to me.

And the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

My relationship with Sweden is deep, raw and complex. Like lovers who throw things at each other only to find themselves in each other’s heated embrace the very next second.

You see, what we deem as success never happens overnight. There are often decades of preparation, daily toil, and unrelenting passion that go into doing what we love and potentially making it our career as well. We never go it alone either as we often have friends and family members who fully believe in us and support us beyond words but with tangible actions that make a huge difference too.

We have those special contacts who say our names in important rooms when we’re not physically there.

Like an artist working fervently on a piece, leaving dabs of paint here and there, splashing paint in their wake, on their clothes, on their walls. Those are their own breadcrumbs. Those symbols and signs that let us know a passionate artist resides there.

In essence, my whole writing career, one in which I proactively advocate having a clear niche too, has been a virtual book proposal strewn all across the internet as breadcrumbs.

The publisher only had to follow those breadcrumbs… pages in my virtual proposal… to find me.

Tips – How to leave digital breadcrumbs

Here are some of my tips as you begin your journey of leaving a digital trail connected to the work or subject matter you want to be known for.

  1. First of all, pick a subject matter you are passionate about. The more interested you are in a topic, the easier it is to write about it with authority.
  2. Register social media accounts linked to that subject matter if you have the bandwidth to do so. For example, I run Slow Travel Stockholm and want to be known as an expert when it comes to exploring Stockholm. So, I registered @SlowStockholm across Twitter, Instagram and on Facebook. Same with my LAGOM Book and securing @LagomBook across social media. There are at least 12 other Lagom books on the market but only one with its own social media accounts… mine!
  3. Write for high profile publications on the subject matter. This will begin to secure credibility for you as a strong voice on that subject matter across various platforms.
  4. Find opportunities to connect with other writers and bloggers who have a larger web presence. You can offer guest posts on your subject matter for their blogs, get interviewed on their podcasts, participate in a takeover of their channels, to name a few opportunities.
  5. Be consistent when it comes to sharing information about your subject matter. The more you write about it, the more content is out there tied to your name via Google.
  6. Always include your subject matter expertise as part of your bio and bylines when writing about it.
  7. Above all, remember to have fun and keep reminding yourself why you were interested in this particular subject in the first place.

Long story short….my advice would be to leave a trail of work you love and are proud of. In small corners and in unlikely places. Leave specific  breadcrumbs, not generic ones because it will lead the right relationships to you.

UPDATE – We’re now up to 18 foreign language editions! If you haven’t picked up your copy of LAGOM: The Swedish Secret of Living Well, please grab yours today (Amazon US / UK) and join our vibrant @LAGOMBook community on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Thank you to my friends, family, and community who are firmly in my corner and have supported me all along the way. I feel your love every single day.