Monthly Archives: November 2007

Full Force Collaboration

One of my persistent concerns as I coach people through the book development process is wanting more for the author than the author does. A coaching relationship, almost by definition, starts out this way, before the client or author knows what is possible. I often see great opportunities for my clients – based on their subject matter expertise or their experience or their new viewpoints – before they can.

But at some time during the process, the tables must turn. Unless the author can fully commit to the book and all of what that means, the book will never be as successful as it might.

If the coach does a good job painting the picture of the opportunity and the client decides that the possible outcome is worth the time, energy and commitment, then the partnership between the coach and the “student” can be productive, exciting and ultimately rewarding for both. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to open a package with a new book in it, a book that is now a reality because we, the author and I, gave it everything we had.

But a lot can get lost in between painting the picture and that as-close-to-perfect-as-we-could-make-it book. The point of the collaboration is to pool our expertise, but more importantly to pool our collective energy about making this possibility a reality.

If I’m not very excited about a project or I’m unable to really convince the author that she does have what it takes, and that she can make this happen, then not enough energy is accumulated to take this project to its most successful conclusion.

If the author does not really commit herself to the possibilities, suspending lots of doubt, and if she doesn’t decide she is going to do all the work she really knows is needed, then again, the book will only be a fraction of what it could be.

Do you think the audience can’t tell the difference? They might not know what didn’t happen that should have, but if there wasn’t the author’s full presence in the creation of the book, then the audience will feel that in the words. A book is read between the lines.

I believe in full force collaboration. I bring everything I know to a book project and I expect the author to bring her full commitment as well. I will tell her what she needs to hear and we will solve the inevitable problems together – if she wants to.

What saddens me most is when I hear an aspiring author say, “I just want to do a little book.” or “I don’t think it has to be more than 100 pages, do you?” or “I need to get this out for a conference in six weeks and I just have to do something, it doesn’t have to be great.”

Are you planning to tell that to the readers in the opening? “I would have done more but I didn’t have enough time,” or “I just had to have something to sell to you for this speaking engagement?” Are you planning to tell them that the book would normally be sold at $18.95, but since I didn’t really do my best work, I’m going to sell it to you for $9.95?

This is your message out to the world. You won’t be there to fill in the blanks when someone who needs you anxiously opens the book for the first time and is open to your wisdom.

Your legacy doesn’t have a deadline. If you aren’t fully ready to finish the book, keep working on it. Work on it as it pulls you in. Don’t force things that aren’t ready to happen. Immerse yourself in the subject, help others as much and as often as you can, and fill yourself up with the energy you need to get excited and take you and your book to the places you know you were meant to go.