You don’t know what you don’t know
I was prompted to write this article based on an experience that I had recently with a new writer, publishing for the first time. Something that I hope other writers will benefit from. For anonymity, I’ll call this writer Jerry.
Jerry had written a book to promote his business – something that I encourage all entrepreneurs to do, write about what they know. But Jerry, like many overly independent individuals, wanted to do everything himself – writing, publishing (editing, cover design, legal registration), printing, distribution and promotion.
Now you may say what’s wrong with that? He’s showing some initiative! I would say that would be the same as a person, who has never looked under the hood of a car, collecting bits of information on the Internet to redo his brakes because he would rather do it himself than pay a mechanic or he was convinced that he could do it himself. He follows the instructions exactly as outlined. But what if he didn’t know that he was missing steps B and C? You don’t know what you don’t know. Would you feel comfortable riding in that car?
Jerry did his homework. Or so he thought. He already had his book release party set, restaurant reserved, invitations sent – the whole nine yards. The cart before the horse. When we first met, six weeks prior to the release party, Jerry was still doing rewrites on his book. He thought that it would take no more than one month to complete the book. I asked him if he had any idea how long it would take to have the book cataloguing done, let alone the other processes and printing. No, I guess he didn’t. He would need a little help and some creative thinking.
During the editing process, I found out that no one, other than the author himself, had read the manuscript. There were several faux pas and structural errors in the content. It would need reworking. A little hair-raising. Not a positive experience!
If you’re writing/publishing a book for personal satisfaction and you have nothing on the line, a few mistakes can be costly but not life altering. But if your book is a representation of you or your business, or is a business tool, big mistakes may reflect badly on you, your business or your reputation.
There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment when you say, “I did it all myself.” And there’s wisdom in knowing when you should not do it all yourself.