You’ve probably heard the saying, “Done is better than perfect.” And, if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ve probably heard my tips to help you write your book faster. That might leave you asking whether you should rush to write your book just for the sake of having it out there.
No, I don’t think you should publish any unpolished manuscript just to get your book out the door. There’s one important question that I think you should ask yourself, a question that will guide you to figure out if any aspect of your book needs more work, or if it’s good enough. I’ll share that question with you, and an example of when done was better than perfect for one of my own books, in this episode.
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Let’s dive into the topic of today’s episode, which is the idea of done being better than perfect. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you know that I say this a lot. I am a real believer in done being better than perfect, especially if you have perfectionistic tendencies like I do (and I know a lot of us entrepreneurs do).
But, I have been getting some questions in the Blogger to Author Community and from other audience members about this idea of done being better than perfect. Does that mean that you should rush through creating your book and just put anything out into the world? Is the idea just to finish your book and get it done quickly? Is there a happy medium, or really, what should you be looking for? How do you figure out when done is better than perfect? Or, is done actually under cooked, and you need to put things back in the oven?
I want to start out this discussion with a story about my first book, Yoga for Runners. If you look at it right now on Amazon, you can see the cover is okay. It’s not great, and I’ll use this as an example. So as you know, if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, that I put that book together in 30 days or maybe a couple of days shy of that. So, I put it together relatively quickly.
The reason why I was able to put together Yoga for Runners so quickly is because I repurposed blog posts that I had been writing for at least a year and a half. So, even though it sounds like I put it together really fast and that maybe I rushed through it, I didn’t really. Here’s the thing: all of those blog posts that I had written that I co-opted, I had spent time working on them and making them good when I wrote and published those posts.
I spent time editing them, and I spent time making sure that when I published the original blog posts, I was publishing high quality writing. And yes, I made sure to edit them as well. I added to the posts when they went into the book. I added more value, and I added more information. But, what I wrote had gone through at least one or two rounds of editing before I even copied and pasted it into my manuscript.
And, I did more editing when I was putting the book together. And so that book, all of the content, had been through at least three, four, or five sets of edits, maybe even more. So even though it may sound like maybe I rushed through the process from the outside, I don’t feel like I did. That’s because I had spent time previously making sure it was good content. I was able to put together the manuscript relatively quickly that way.
I made reference to the book cover, and that was definitely a done is better than perfect situation. When I published the book, I liked the look of it. But, it certainly wasn’t the same quality that I would have gotten from a professional designer. I DIYed my cover and designed it in Canva. I had my husband take the photograph of me that you’ll see on the cover of the book. I did what I had to do to get the cover done.
Could I have spent more hours, you know, even dozens of hours creating my book cover or looking for different templates or could I have spent hundreds of dollars hiring out somebody to design the cover? Yes. I tried doing the cheap cover design route. I did a $5 or $10 design on Fiverr. It was not as good as what I could have done myself in Canva. It was very basic, and so I decided to go back to the drawing board. I found a Canva template that I liked. I tweaked it. I slapped that photo of myself on the cover and I said, “Okay, this is good enough.”
The point of this story, what I want to bring you back to, or I guess my point here is a question that I want you to ask yourself is this: Is this (your book) going to serve your audience? Is this going to meet their needs? Is this going to do for them what your book is intended to do?
So take a second. If you are unsure whether you are rushing through things or if you’re just making sure that done is better than perfect and ask yourself, “is this going to serve my audience well?” Because when it comes to creating a book, there are always more things that you can do. But, I think you should be focusing on the things you should do, and specifically, the things that you should do to help meet your goal for your book.
That goal is going to vary from person to person. But, when you know that goal, that will help you decide, well, do I need to hire a cover designer? Is it important for me to have a really well done cover that might help me sell even more and more copies of my book on Amazon, for example? Or, is my goal just to serve my audience and to help them in some way?
Also ask yourself what’s the best use of your time right now. For example, is the cover something that I could update later on? That’s the boat I’m in. I’m currently in the process of creating a second edition of Yoga for Runners. I’m adding to the copy, and I’m getting the cover designed. I’m making it a even better version of what it is.
But at the same time, if I go back and ask myself that question, “Is the first edition of Yoga for Runners going to serve my audience?” Well, the answer is yes. I put a lot of great information in there. I made sure that it addressed all of the common pain points that I heard, not only from my in-person students at the yoga studio, but then also for my audience that I had built of runners who are interested in learning more about yoga. I listened to all of those problems and I made sure that I answered that and even address the problems that they didn’t even know where problems. I included all of that in my book. So yes, I absolutely. I created a book that served my audience well, and so in that case, done truly was better than perfect.
Again, this is a question that I want you to keep asking yourself as you are doing really anything with your book. This could apply to marketing as well, but it certainly applies to the content of your book. When you look at the cover of your book, ask yourself: will what you have serve your audience well as it is, or do you need to spend a little bit of time on it?
I think that that question is the crux of figuring out whether you’re rushing through things and putting out a substandard book or substandard content, or if you really are just focusing on the stuff that’s important and making sure that done is better than perfect. So, I hope that you’ll ask yourself this question, not only overall with your book, but then also as you consider different components of your book.
This could easily apply to a book launch, too. Is what you’re doing going to serve your audience well? Will it serve your audience well if you only, for example, get featured on one or two podcasts if your goal was 10? Well, yes, you’re still helping people out. In that case done might be better than perfect. If you didn’t get a chance to post on every single social media platform a couple of times this week to announce the launch of your book, is that still serving your audience? Yes. It may not have gone as perfectly as you wanted, but you’re still letting them know about your book. So maybe that’s something you don’t need to stress out about as much.
Keep asking yourself again and again, “Is this going to serve your audience well?” I think that that is the benchmark that you should measure the success of your book by.
I hope that this was helpful for those of you who might be still a little confused about whether you should be writing or editing your book as fast as possible and putting just whatever out there into the world. I really think that you should keep your reader in mind and make sure that your book is going to be helpful to them. So keep asking yourself that question. “Is this going to serve your audience well?” Use that as your benchmark for getting your book out into the world.
[Tweet “Is done really better than perfect when it comes to your nonfiction book? How do you tell if you’re working too fast, or if you’re just leaving behind the unimportant stuff? #amwriting”]
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