The first (and most important) lesson I learned about publishing a book is – “the buck stops here.”
I’ve been helping authors write books and then guiding them through the often thorny jungle of publishing and self-publishing, since 2001. The first and most important lesson I’ve learned throughout all my author publishing adventures is – the buck stops with you as the author. This is true whether you elect to traditionally or independently publish your book.
No matter how many people you hire (or for traditionally published authors, are assigned) to help you write, publish, and market your book, no matter how expert and skilled they are, how awesome they are, how much you love and believe in them, or how much you invest in their services – it is your name on that book cover.
When that “final final final” tenth round proof come across your desk, the one you’re tempted to ignore or delegate, assuming your editor or proofreader surely “must” have caught everything by now – check it again. You’re being given the opportunity to review your book again for a reason. The people producing your book want to make absolutely certain that you approve of what’s inside – the words, margins, chapter headings, images (make sure you own them by the way), front and back cover – everything. They want your sign-off as the final and most important authority on your book. “Assuming” does no one any favors.
This first lesson I learned about publishing a book also applies to everything associated with your author brand – your website, social media and anywhere else your name appears. The buck stops with you. It’s your name and reputation at stake, along with other unforeseen consequences of turning a blind eye and “assuming” everything will work out.
For example, years ago when I was in a poorly managed “scale – leverage – team payroll – 3 a.m. panic attack” period of my business, one of the things I turned a blind eye to, was the images being utilized in the blog posts on my website. As it turns out, many of the images on my blog were owned by Getty Images. This is before the now (mostly) common knowledge that grabbing images from Google and using them on your blog is akin to intellectual property theft, an act that entities like Getty Images (and their lawyers) don’t take kindly to. This was not my team member’s fault, but all mine because again, the buck stops here.
Fortunately I learned the lesson with a slap on the hand (a cease and desist letter) versus a costly fine, as is the fate of many other small business owners guilty of the same misdeed.
Moral of My Story: There is a balance between micromanaging and delegating blindly. Not knowing the difference can be costly to your wallet and your reputation.
As an author, by all means, enlist the help of others, especially where you lack the expertise or time to do a task well. There are many things in the book writing, publishing, and marketing process that can and should be delegated. Delegate – don’t abandon. Because the readers noticing the wonky margins and typos don’t know nor care that you were “too busy” that week to review that final proof.
Don’t delegate your reputation. The buck – and book – stop with you as the author.