We all know writing is a solitary endeavor. We crawl into the cave of our office or closet or favorite coffee shop corner and, with only the company of words and our imaginations create works that are meant to communicate, (which is somewhat ironic, isn’t it)?
Then, suddenly, there’s a BOOK, and instantly we’re expected to turn from hermit to party animal, from creator to marketer, from soloist to an authorpreneur working with a team of professionals.
I recently had the privilege of contributing to a book for solopreneurs called Office For One: The Sole Proprietor’s Survival Guide, a project created and edited by frequent WWW contributor and media relations expert Christina Hamlett.
The book is an excellent resource for any entrepreneur who wants to go it alone without getting lonely. Over 30 experts from around the world offer tips and advice on topics such as tuning out naysayers, handling legalities and financial challenges, courting clients, marketing on a shoestring budget, networking, and cracking the media code.
In reading the final product (and it’s one I also recommend for any author) I was struck by just how LARGE a winning author team each lone writer might assemble to be successful: from your initial beta readers to your developmental and copy editors, from your attorney and insurance agent to your accountant, from your marketing and PR team to fellow authors and fans who’ll help you shout your message to the world!
Five Tips to Create a Winning Author Team
1. Vet your teammates. A little time researching and interviewing will save a lot of time trying to extricate yourself from an unpleasant situation, or worse, paying two or three times for the same task until someone gets it right. Clearly state your goals and expectations and allow them to clearly state how they can or cannot deliver on each.
Look at the tryouts athletes endure before they get to be a member of the team. And still they may not work out on the team in the long run. As the “coach” you may need to recognize when they don’t and change the lineup…
2. Don’t set your team members up for failure. Unreasonable expectations can whittle away at any team’s effectiveness. Your publicist isn’t going to know how to build a website or create a book cover, just as your cover creator won’t know the first thing about editing your jacket copy!
Make sure you know the skill set that each team member brings to the table before they arrive, and avoid trying to jam that round peg into a square hole. Your quarterback will never be a kicker, and vice versa…
3. Steer clear of “Negative Nellies.” We all enjoy a bit of snark here and there (we’re human). But really, over the long haul, you’ll want to work with the glass-half-full folks. Consistent negativity and criticism will only wear you and the rest of your team down, murdering enthusiasm and wounding productivity. The nay-sayer can be like a cancer; cut it out before it spreads!
4. Challenges Will Arise! Borrowing from Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan character in A League of Their Own — “If it were easy, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” So, if a situation or problem or even crisis occurs (no, running out of stamps is not a crisis) then bring the appropriate members of the team to the table to brainstorm solutions. You must also be willing to share your own ideas: “What are we going to do about this?” works better if you’re not just waiting for someone else to “fix it.”
5. And of course, have FUN. Look, there will be parts of the book production process you don’t particularly enjoy, and that’s okay. And if you hate every bit of it, by all means, just walk away.
Yes, writing and editing and publishing a book can be incredibly challenging and super hard work, but again, the hard is what makes it great.“