Category Archives: strategy

It’s time to cheat on your publisher

With the current generation of high-speed digital printers, print-on-demand [POD] publishers are making aspiring authors feel wanted like they’ve never been wanted before. It seems like everywhere you look there’s another slick come-on … free ISBN numbers, your own storefront, listings on Amazon.com.

For someone getting propositioned for the first time, it’s easy to fall into a deep relationship with whoever offers the nicest package. The smart ones make it really easy to say “yes”. It’s just so simple and comfortable, let them take care of everything for you.

I bet you can see this coming

Then something goes wrong and you realize how dependent you’ve become. All those links on your blog pointing to the order page. All the people you’ve told where to find you. The PayPal account you set up to take the payments.

It sure was easier to get into this relationship than it is to get out. You tell yourself the problem — whatever it is — isn’t really that bad, come to think of it. At least it’s not bad enough to be worth the pain of finding someone new.

You don’t think that time is going to come? Well, you may be right. Through some combination of luck, work and compatibility you may have found the perfect partner for the rest of your publishing life. But do you really want to jump into things that deeply without seeing what else the world has to offer you?

So what’s the alternative?

The great thing about all these options is that you can try lots of them without guilt. You realize, if think about it, that they’re hooking up with every other writer on the planet just as fast as they can. You’re nothing special to them, so why should they be anything special to you?

So play the field. Sign up everywhere you can find that doesn’t have setup fees. Upload, test, experiment, enjoy the thrill of it all. And see who actually gives you what you really want: sales.

There are no IT projects … mostly

Whenever someone says something I’ve been thinking or saying for a while, it’s clear evidence of how smart they are. (Don’t laugh, you think so too.) So when Bob Lewis published the KJR Manifesto – Core Principles, he confirmed his intelligence when he wrote:

There are no IT projects. Projects are about changing and improving the business or what’s the point?

The variation that I’ve been telling people for years is that people don’t want software, they want the things they do with the software. So if you’re working on an IT project and can’t explain the benefits in terms that matter to the business, you probably shouldn’t be doing the project. Then in the middle of making this point to someone, I realized it’s not always true.

One case I thought of was a steel manufacturer that I interviewed with. While the factory was computer-controlled, the people who worked on those systems were in Engineering. The non-production computer system — email, financials, advertising, etc. — was IT. In that case, IT really was a support function, no more important to the company than telecom.

That doesn’t mean it was unimportant. They could no more survive without their back-office system than they could do without phones. But that system really had no bearing on how they ran their business. It was something that was expected to Just Work™, like the electricity or plumbing.

The thing I don’t know is if this is the exception that proves the rule, or if it’s more common than I thought to find a place where IT really isn’t a strategic partner in the business.