Learning something you didn’t know you didn’t know
I had an interesting experience with a client this week. He’s writing a book about job search techniques and has hired me to put the book together for him. Now, he asked me at the start of our project to be patient with him, as this is his first time through the publishing process. I usually try to keep that fact in mind with every client – to remember to meet them wherever they are. While there is generally some overlap in terms of the things people need explained, by and large the questions are always different. This one surprised me, though.
I sent the client the front matter and first chapter in the format I’d designed for his book. He wrote back, almost immediately:
At the top of each page appears my name or the book title. I printed out a page this AM.
It is the first time that I have seen such a format, and I’m a bit uncomfortable with it. Is this something new? What is the rationale behind the format?
Please share the reason for the format. Then, I will give you an immediate response to keep or eliminate it.
As I’ve alluded, I hear all kinds of questions from new authors, but this was a first. I scratched my head a bit, and then responded:
Pull almost any book off your shelf. There is a header at the top of most books. It is not by any means a requirement. Just makes for a more finished look.
I can remove it if you don’t want it, so just let me know.
Then came his sheepish response:
It’s unbelievable, I never noticed. Keep it.
So I think there are two lessons here. First – it’s helpful to hire an expert, but when you do so, you’ve got to be willing to trust them. You’re hiring them because they can fill in a lot of the blanks you have, particularly about things you don’t know that you don’t know.
More important, though, is the underlying statement my client made: “I’m a bit uncomfortable with it.” REALLY? He’s a bit uncomfortable with having his name on his own book? Why might that be? He spent a lot of time writing it. He’s clearly an expert on the subject and is offering some very good advice that he knows has already helped many people find jobs. He’s willing to put his name on the front and spine of the book. But the idea of putting his name in the header – that concerned him.
I’m guessing it’s all just a part of putting his work out there for the world to see. If we ever hope to have any success at all, we authors must get over our fear and worry about what people might say about our books. Yep – it’s human nature to focus on the one bad review or lose sleep wondering how we’ll get the negative critic to come around. But we get what we focus on. So while we’re in the midst of the publishing process, we really need to focus on why we’re writing, discovering ways to connect with our audience, and keeping our end goal in mind, whatever that may be.
You wrote the book – you deserve to put your name on it, and to proudly display it and talk about it and sell it to the right person in the right situation. Go ahead – I dare you. Claim your success and let your author’s light shine for all the world to see.
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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