Better to be First or Best?
Jan 29, 2014
Watching the winter storm coverage here in Atlanta this morning reminds me of my days as a TV news producer. These are the times I miss that world—running to the studio with seconds left before the show began, breaking news that throws a show it took 6 hours to prepare upside down, getting information out to people who need it, and the amazing feeling when the ratings come out and your newscast is the highest-rated!
When it comes to breaking news and huge “events,” every station wants to be the first to report something. But I always preferred to be right rather than first. Better to be accurate when reporting and be second on the air with it, than be first and report the wrong information and spend the rest of the day trying to make up for it. Some of these principles can apply when writing and publishing a book.
Timeliness: It’s great to publish something that’s the first of its kind, but being first doesn’t always mean best, or best-seller in this case. If you are rushing to get your book out, don’t sacrifice quality just to beat out the release of another title. I’ve seen authors rush steps of the process because they booked an event before they knew when the book would be ready, and they get too wrapped up in the timing and lose focus on making a quality product. If you’re not the first to publish this type of book, what makes your book different or better than those that came before it? Find a way to separate your book in readers’ minds while writing the manuscript, not after the book is ready to launch.
Accuracy: the accuracy of the content of your book is going to be more critical in the long run than the timing. The worst thing you can do is publish inaccurate information/content. Check your facts until you’re sick of looking at your manuscript. Cooperate with your editor when they question things and push you to do more research. Be sure you have the appropriate permissions needed to quote someone, use a photo, cite research, etc. Do your due diligence in preparing the best possible manuscript. The damage of an error will last far longer in your book’s reputation than the buzz of positive responses.
Now back to the news…