Before I finally selected a publisher and submitted my manuscript, an all too familiar scene dominated my life. In the scene, I am approached by a casual acquaintance or friend and asked, “Where is the book you were working on? Is it published yet?” In an instant, my heart would sink and I would try to compose a simple answer that conveyed the fact that the book is finished but not ready for publication yet. How could I explain that the perfection I sought before publication kept me from moving ahead and publishing my book? More importantly, why is it that although nothing else in my life is perfect, I insisted that my book reach that standard before being published? The quest for perfection can sabotage anyone’s prospects of seeing their ideas published. This article captured your attention because you too have encountered stumbling blocks in getting your book out of your computer and into the hands of a publisher. We are both in very good company because Norman Vincent Peale also faced the ‘is it good enough demon’ before publishing one of his most famous books, The Power of Positive Thinking. He had poured his heart and soul into the book and had been unable to find an editor; he tossed the manuscript in frustration into the trashcan. The book had been rewritten again and again. He ordered his wife, Ruth, not to remove the manuscript from the trashcan. On the following day, Ruth delivered the manuscript, still in the trashcan, to an editor whom she had heard of. The editor read the manuscript, renamed it and published it to great acclaim. The book eventually would sell over 20 million copies in 42 languages. What’s holding you back? Just how perfect does your manuscript have to be before you will release it? Perhaps you will identify with some of the pitfalls of perfection listed below.
My idea is too controversial! An idea cannot be too controversial. A well researched and well written point of view promotes sales rather than discourages sales. Editors are inundated daily with similar ideas. What they cherish are articles, stories and books that present a point of view that will stimulate conversations, cause a reader to pause and think, and sell subscriptions and books. Readers are attracted to differing points of view, if only to validate their own point of view. Your research and your particular style of delivery are your magic selling tools. Instead of asking the question, “Is my topic too controversial?” instead ask, “Is my topic truthful, interesting and well documented.” A yes answer to the former question should send you sailing to a publisher.
I don’t have the educational background to back me up! Fortunately, God does not reserve talents or good ideas only for those who have achieved a certain level of education. Many other forms of accreditation can be counted in the search for validation. These forms include but are not limited to life experiences, good solid research, interviews of others, and credits given in footnotes and bibliographies. If you are a professional speaker, you have the background and talent to draw and maintain the attention and respect of a paying audience – you have validation for presenting your point of view in print.
I’m not a very good writer! Many books that are published have received hands on assistance from editors and ghost writers. Don’t let your lack of writing skill keep your ideas from being dispersed to as many people as possible. Take the time to write out your ideas without considering the final presentation. You should take as much time as necessary, even months and continue adding to your original idea or ideas. A good editor or ghostwriter can assemble your ideas into manuscript form. Fear not, they will not have the last word! You can edit their presentation to ensure that the message you wish to deliver is present. It is a good idea to solicit several people to read the finished manuscript and to have a discussion with them to ascertain the impact of the work and to ensure that once again, your original message has remained intact. We all have our own talents. I enjoy working with words and cower from mathematical challenges. You, on the other hand, may enjoy math and science and cower from word challenges. I believe that we are blessed with differing talents to assist one another. Firm up your ideas and find a wordsmith to put your manuscript in publishable form.
It’s just not ready yet! Why not? When will it be ready? Examine the work that you have already done and determine what needs to be done. If you have a marketable idea, scribbled notes, and no time – MAKE TIME. Do whatever it takes to push the project to completion. Many busy people either set aside early morning hours to work or take a short sabbatical away from phones, home offices and families. One weekend of seclusion can set you on the path to completion. If you have a partially completed manuscript and no time – consider hiring someone to complete the work. Are you seeking perfection and holding onto a completed manuscript after numerous rewrites? Release it to two readers and get their opinions on its worthiness for publication. This step might give you new insights and a renewed passion for seeing the book in print. Set a deadline for publication and schedule your time to reach that deadline. Make it a final deadline that cannot be moved. Schedule a completion party on that date with family and friends. Reward yourself for moving forward – you deserve it!
Get moving and get published! Instead of seeking perfection, choose to do your very best! Writing a book that expresses your ideas is the ultimate in sales tools and profitability. Audiences may remember some of your words for a short period of time during a speaking engagement, but they will be able to refresh their memories and share their enthusiasm through the purchase of your book for themselves and others. Start today – decide what is holding you back. If you need the assistance of an editor or ghostwriter – look one up. The world of self-publishing offers the opportunity to publish without waiting for traditional publishers to accept your idea. Only you can keep your idea under your hat. What good is it doing you or your audiences if it remains hidden away from view? See you in print!!