T.E.A.M. - Together Everyone Achieves More

As a writer, you may not be thinking in terms of T.E.A.M. After all, you write alone, right? May I interrupt that train of thought? Just because you write the book by yourself, you will need a team.

Consider the following from "The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork" (PDF here):

  • If you're married, you and your spouse are a team.
  • If you are employed by an organization, you and your colleagues are a team.
  • If you volunteer somewhere, you and your fellow volunteers create a team.
  • And if you are an author, your co-author, or editor, or typesetter, literary agent, publicist or publisher become a team.
  • To think differently is simply asking for failure. Let me expound as I get up on my soap box for a moment.
  • I've worked with a lot of authors over the last 25 years. LOTS. I've worked with them in a variety of capacities. As part of their publishing team in a publishing house, as their publicist, as their literary agent, as their project manager, as their ghostwriter. I could continue, but you get the picture. Without question, the ones that have been most successful are the ones that value the team.

Why? Because we all have our areas of expertise that add value and add a piece to the puzzle to create a masterpiece (in this case---your book.)

As the writer, you bring the story/teaching, creativity and hopefully some amount of platform to the table. But without a good team (especially a good editor and marketer) your book will likely go completely unnoticed. The key is to understand that each contributor is important.

Let me share one of my real-life examples.

Many years ago, I had an author who was on the downside of his career. A big name at one time, it had become more and more challenging for him to receive invitations to speak, sing or be interviewed. In order to restart his career, he had a great idea for a book. A publisher I worked for at the time contracted for it. I was hired as his publicist.

"What is your 'dream interview'," I asked him in our first conversation. He named a television interview program in which I had very strong contacts. I started work on his publicity campaign with the intent to nail his 'dream interview' during the course of the campaign. I did.

Subsequently, the publisher asked me to travel to the show to meet the author and coach/assist him through the interview. It was a national program and could be very beneficial to the promotion of his book. I was enroute to the interview when I received a call from the guest coordinator of the program.

"I don't know what's wrong with him, but he is rude. Get your author under control."

Ugh! That's a statement I never want to hear...but unfortunately I have on more than one occasion. I arrived at the studio in the next ten minutes and was met by the guest coordinator who was less than happy. "Do something with him," she directed.

I sought out the author. It was the first time I had a chance to meet him in person. We talked briefly, and I had to agree with the guest coordinator. He was rude.

I never found out what had set him off or the reason for his disagreeable disposition that day. Was that typical for him? I have no idea. He wouldn't open up to me or discuss any issues with me. He did bark at me as he did the television crew. However, I was able to convince the producer to proceed with the interview. (They wanted to pull the plug.) As soon as the interview concluded the author stalked out of the studio without a wave or a simple thank you. I shook my head in disbelief. Hadn't I just delivered to him his 'dream interview'? Sheesh. Go figure.

I never did find out what his beef was, and really didn't care. I finished out the campaign with little enthusiasm. Rude doesn't get you very far in my book. This was an author that didn't understand team or value. I was part of his T.E.A.M. but he treated me (and others) like servants.

A couple of years later I received a call from him. Boy was I surprised.

"Hey Karen, it's "so and so"," he opened the conversation. "You probably don't remember me..."

"Oh, I remember you," I commented.

The author took the next ten minutes to outline his newest project and his desire to hire me and my team to help him promote his new book. Hmmm, let me think about it for about a second....

"I'm so sorry, but you'll have to engage another firm for that project," I explained politely and disconnected. Yes, I just turned down a project (money), but kindness and value of the team mean so much more. Life is way too short for rude.

What the author didn't realize is prior to his outburst; I had been a fan of his ministry and music. Some of his albums lined my library. I really wanted to see his book succeed and help him restart his career. After working with him on that campaign, I realized there may very well have been a reason why his career had slumped. If he treated everyone the way he did me, the guest coordinator, the producer of that program, the editor from the publishing house, etc. well I definitely saw a pattern.

As a literary agent, I become a team with my authors. My goal is to make you succeed, obtain a contract for your book, and help you attain your goals. Once a publisher is obtained, they join our team. Our goal? A win/win scenario in which we all can succeed. Does it always work that way? Not always, but that should always be the goal.

In what scenario does it most often fail? When the Lone Ranger image emerges (by any of the players) and the team isn't valued.

As an author you will have the need for a great team. A great editor. A great cover designer. A great marketing rep. A great publicist. A great project manager. A great literary agent. A great publisher. You enter into a relationship with each member of the team. They are there to help you and make you better. So value them. Appreciate them. Listen to them and you will almost always receive the same in return. And ultimately you may very well be building a long-term team of friends that will stand with you for the long haul....even if your career eventually starts to go on the downhill. Because where rude doesn't get very far, kindness always does.