Cinnabar Bridge

October 10, 2008

Building your team

Filed under: books,publishing — phwebnet @ 1:13 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Another article for the BAIPA News [October 2008]

Last month I wrote about the author-editor relationship and the emotional component of that relationship. It occurs to me that as you build your publishing business, this is just the first among many relationships you will develop along the way.

Many of us are authors as well as publishers and this discussion applies to you as well. When I think of famous artists, there are very very few who achieve great success without help, without a team effort. I think of Picasso and Monet and I think of wives and brothers, and cousins and agents who believed in them, who ran their businesses. That’s how we need to think about our business – as an author or as a publisher.

We need to think about building our teams. It’s critical. Sometimes your team is a spouse or a partner; sometimes it is a mix of vendors and customers. Whatever way you look at it, there will be a team to manage all the pieces of the publishing puzzle.

So, how do we go about doing this? One of the most important pieces of consulting I do with my clients is to get into a truly thoughtful discussion about what they want to do themselves and what they do not want to do themselves. I make them ask questions like: What is my role? What will be the roles of others? And who will these “others” be?

I know, for myself, that there are tasks I do not want to do even if I am able to do them. For those, I need to find team members. One example is marketing – I can help others figure out their marketing efforts and I can see patterns in their projects and can elicit what they are good at and what they can do – but I’m not so good at doing this for myself. I am a reluctant marketer. So, I need to build my team to balance that lack. I am now working with a couple of different people to help me see my own path.

On the other hand, while I am a writer and an author, I also love to design books. In this case, my team for book design is just me – my author self working with my book design self. But, even in this process, I usually ask someone else to take a look along the way to ensure I can still see the forest and to provide an outside perspective. I do this when I write – I ask others to read my work and provide feedback. And now I do it for book design as well.

For the business end of things – the management of inventory, the management of distribution and sales – I find other team members. My interest, my passion, and my skills are in the area of creation and production of the book itself. I want the other pieces to work, but I don’t want to do them.

You, on the other hand, will have different likes, different skills, and different aversions. As we move along this path, we find those we like to work with and those we can lean on and those who do their work so well we can’t imagine doing things without them.

Take some time to figure this out – it will make your publishing business go more smoothly and will help your authoring business do better, and you will be happier and more satisfied. 

Do what you’re good at, what you like to do, and find others to do the rest. This is a business and you need to manage it, even if you don’t perform all the tasks yourself. You are in charge of the team and you need to manage them.


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