I've always been an ideas guy. I collect ideas, invent ideas, and (I try to) share ideas. That's what my book is - a collection of ideas, wrapped up in a story.
Just today I've realised that there is one more thing in my book which is even more important than the ideas. It's the book's attitude.
I'm going to call it The Trustable Attitude. It's an attitude that says, "There are few things more important to me than being worthy or trust, therefore I must act in a trust worthy way". It's an attitude that says, "It is easy to say TRUST ME, but it's hard work to be TRUSTED". I don't say anything explicit in the book about this attitude ... but I've just realized that it is ingrained within the fabric of the book. The second book, Rocks Into Gold, is more explicit about trust because I've treated it more like an idea or a concept, rather than an attitude.
Two things happened yesterday which made me think about The Trustable Attitude.
The first was Charles Green's latest post on Trust Based Selling. Read it. You'll see what I mean. And while you are at it, buy his book Trust Based Selling. Sure, it is a book about selling, but don't let that put you off; it's really a book about being successful by being Trustable. That book, and subsequent email conversations with Charles changed my attitude, my beliefs, my thinking more than I can describe. I can't recommend the book highly enough.
The second thing that happened yesterday was that I received a note from Mark, my copy-editor. Let me give you some background first.
Over the last few years I've talked with plenty of published authors who've said that they didn't get all that much from their publishers and several recommended looking into self-publishing my book. The more I've looked into it, the more I like the idea. One of my key drivers is that I really don't want to give up ownership of my book. For instance, I want to podcast my entire book for free but I suspect that most publishers would struggle with that. I want to leave a scrappy draft of my book on line so that people who can't afford it can read it for free. I'm also considering syndicating the book so that it can be published chapter-by-chapter. Those ideas currently give publishers the heebiegeebies (that word, btw, confused my spell checker - it suggested that maybe I meant "freebies"). Plus, the economics of print-on-demand publishing are quite compelling too, especially given that few whatever way I produce the book, I still need to promote it myself - something, it turns out, I am reasonably good at.
(That said, Jarred Richardson and Johanna Rothman, both had very kind and well considered opinions of the pragmatic programmers).
The only obvious downside for me is that I have had to find and pay for my own copy editor. That' not as easy as you think. Why? Well, when you consider that I've worked on this book for 3.5 years; that every one of the 120,000 words in RRD cost me at least five drips of intellectual sweat; that the book sets the stage for the rest of my career ... well, you get the point: I don't just want some monkey off the street hacking away at my manuscript.
How could I judge whether a freelance copy editor is trustable or not?
Easy: I went looking for someone with good recommendations. The crazy thing: I only found 3 or 4. Luckily one of them stood out from the rest because, even though their web presence wasn't nearly as professional as their virtual competitor, I found their reviews, on lulu.com, compelling. The reviews were from about 6 or so very grateful sounding published authors. They sounded like ordinary folk, just like me, who'd sweated away, hacking at their keyboard whenever they could, until their book finally made it onto paper. So I contact them, Mark got back to me, we emailed backwards and forward a little before I felt confident to hand my wee darling baby over to them.
i haven't seen any of their work just yet, but yesterday I sent Mark, my copy-editor, this note:
You know you've got a great way of dealing with people and managing your commitments. Once I've put this book to bed then I'd like to talk to you about how you work. You're a great model so far for the topic of my second book. But I'm getting ahead of myself ...
And Mark replied:
Thank you for your kind words; compliments are always welcome. Seriously though, we always maintain a good relationship with our authors, it helps make the process easier for everyone. We are also always aware that some people are a little wary of Internet-based businesses - it comes from the no direct personal contact aspect - so we always try to make sure authors have confidence in us. Reputation is everything in this business and it's something we always keep in mind. I'd be delighted to talk more about it, and I'd be honoured to be a topic for a manuscript. A good relationship always works both ways of course and it's a lot easier for me when speaking to friendly and open people like yourself.
That's what I mean by having The Trustable Attitude. I've still got my fingers crossed a little - the proof is in the pudding, after all. If they don't do a good job, I chuck their work, and go find another editor. I really, really, really want them to do a good job, partly for me, but mostly because I want them to live up to the warm feelings I have for them right now. They've earned my trust so far and I will be devastated more by the loss of trust than I will by having to start again ...