In research, as well as my experience, teams make the best products. Moreover, feeling a modicum of ownership in its success, they stay involved after they are lauched. The team treats the idea for the product like a baby to be nurtured, birthed and grown into her potential.
Most likely, you don't have a team built around your book. If you go with a corporate publisher, you don’t have a team – you’ve sold it to a VC of sorts that will assign staff to work on it, along with all their other duties. While some of them might take a shine to you or your book, in most cases, they are detached about your vision, and attached to getting your book off their plate.
That’s not a team. That is a supply chain.
If you think that solo-publishing is a team builder, think again. Use a pushbutton publisher like Smashwords or BookTango and it’s all on you. Write, edit, design and promote the book – you are the team. If you decide to buy a package deal of services (for only $999 – $2999 we’ll edit, design and market your book!), you are getting a crappier staff handoff – in some cases (like Author Solutions) to a harried worker in the Philippines.
That’s not a team, that’s a tourist trap for authors on a journey to be published. The staff that gets your assignment is measured more by time-to-finish than the quality of the output or the success of the venture.
OK, so you decide you’ll venture out and find some freelance talent to edit or design your book, that’s a team, right? Wrong. When you hire fee-for-service talent, in many cases, you are creating your own supply chain, not an aligned team that’s ready to collaborate their way into something great.
On a real team, there’s a mutual picking, where both the team and the players agree to play together. Sure, you’ll read about the mercenary NFL star who shows up on Sunday for the check, but soon enough, he fails to deliver on the promise and is traded or cut. Not a team player. A fee-for-service provider is hired to do a job, not weigh in on issues beyond the task at hand. While many of them are committed to a high standard of quality, the ultimate success of your book project is all up to you.
That’s why we’ve created Net Minds. To help you build a real team around your book. Not only do you get to pick them, based on their profile and experience, they are required to pick you – and explain they are attracted to your project. We call this affinity matching, which leads to an engaged team. For example, one of our Net Minds Select projects is a book about dealing with male body dysmorphia. The topic has attracted an editor, marketer and publicist that all have one thing in common: They’ve either had or know someone who has suffered through this condition. And they want to help the author write to it. They have a passion for this project.
The Net Minds team publishing approach also empowers every teammate to have inputs on the ultimate product or promotional strategy. This is one of the thing’s that is broken about the existing publishing industry. The author hands off a manuscript to an editor, who hands it to the book designer, who then reveals it to marketing and promotional leads. This is no way to collaborate!
When I was working with traditional publishers, I never got access to my design team and they never got to talk with marketing. With self-publishing, the process is even more forumlaic and linear.
At Net Minds, we encourage authors to put the whole team together at the beginning of the project, where editorial can talk to marketing and vice versa. Design gets involved early, inspiring the team with early comps and even weighing in our marketing executions. Marketing can also talk to design about integrated campaigns that add value from promotion to reading to sharing.
Then finally, there’s the issue of commitment. A staffer at a corporate publisher usually doesn’t have an economic incentive to the team’s success. There’s no bowl-bonus, should your book become a best seller or a critic’s pick. Go it solo, and you’ll find that your fee-for-service partners make the same amount, regardless of how many copies get sold.
At Net Minds, we enable authors to share book royalties with their team mates in addition to, or in lieu of fees. This hybrid approach helps publishing professionals optimize unsold time, take on passion projects and build up passive income on our platform. The ability to receive a piece of the upside, creates true commitment to the project’s success. The book, then, is a startup, and all the team members have stock in it. And we know how startups can change the world!
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Photo by JF Schmitz
Tim is a bestselling author and former Yahoo! executive with a mission to disrupt the traditional publishing and self-publishing industries and share knowledge with authors looking to publish and market high-quality books.Follow @sanderssays