In American action adventure movie Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves from 1991 based on the English folk tale that originated in the 12th century, Hood and Azeem make an unlikely pair.
Hood, a Christian crusader, (played by Kevin Costner), was imprisoned along with a Muslim named Azeem (played by Morgan Freeman). When Robin tries to escape, Azeem pleads with him to free him as well, and the two of them travel to Robin Hood’s home and together they overcome many obstacles, including the classic battle with the Sheriff of Nottingham.
There is an old parable that says if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. This is true in the hero’s journey as it is with the author’s journey. What I like about this Hood and Azeem story is that an unlikely pair can achieve incredible things if they are prepared to embrace and harness the power of their differences.
As authors, we are often tempted to go alone. This makes sense, as writing is a personal and often private space. In the early stages of your career, you must overcome a lot of inner voices about whether you are good enough to be in the publishing industry. Often self-published authors struggle the most during this journey as they do not have the benefit of the same size of teams as traditional publishers.
Let me share with you some of my personal experiences in teamwork as a self-published author. My husband and I have quite different approaches to challenges. He is meticulous and has an infuriating ability to see problems before they even arise. Early in our marriage, I was reluctant to share my ideas as I felt as if his style of foreseeing problems manifested the troubles in our lives. That was before I read the book The One Minute Millionaire. It is a novel and business book combined which shares one woman’s journey to achieving the riches she needs to get her children back. While it is fiction, the business principals the book conveys are very real. In one section, this book shares that there are different types of people in a good team.
The author recommends you decide which types of people and what roles they serve. You will have to have a cheerleader at some point who will encourage you with your plans. At other times, you will need a meticulous planner and will plot the road ahead. And at the appropriate time during your planning, you will need someone who is going to find potential pitfalls. Certain people may need to be paired together and, at other times, they act alone.
Let me give you an example. I love my editor, and we have achieved remarkable things together. However, she’s not able to sit with me during all of my writing. Sometimes I have problematic scenes in a story and I’m not able to go to her and talk her through some of these challenges. Her process is to read through the entire book first and see things in perspective.
Very often, I will write my characters into situations that I find almost impossible to write them out. This is when my husband’s ability to find problems has become a welcome asset. I don’t make him read the entire story, rather I workshop a scene with him and patiently work through all his questions to find a solution to my problem with my scene. The result is that I give my editor a better quality first draft to work with. Each of my team members serve a different purpose.
When you are a new author, you do not want the naysayers. It is not wise to share your dreams and processes with those who will tell you all the pitfalls. You are still in the infancy stages and just like you would not expect an infant to ride the bicycle or to recite the times tables.
In the same way, you cannot expect a new author to spend all of their time with people who can strip them of their dreams. This is when knowledge of teams and how they develop is important.
When I first shared my plans of writing with my friend Lisa, a qualified CA, I asked her if I could speak with her sister who had worked in the publishing industry who I felt may guide me. She told me she was not prepared to let me speak to her sister, as felt her experiences in the publishing industry at such an early stage would crush my dream. I am grateful for her sensitivity and her courage to say “No” to me and protect my dream.
There comes a point when you have matured in your journey that you will need a team so that you can grow your author career from the manuscript stage into a place where you have followers and readers. Sometimes we choose the wrong team members at the right times and other times we choose the right team members at the wrong time.
When you embrace the concept of teamwork, you will grow your career in a way that you never dreamed possible. So today I encourage you to work on your team-building skills so that, like the traveller mentioned beforehand, you don’t just need to go fast, but you can go far.
Hello, I am Kim Vermaak
I spent most of my adult life helping other companies build their dream and their brands.
After I turned 40, I wondered if there was more to life than taking care of children and slaving away to earn a living.
I wanted to create a legacy for my children and the next generation. I found that through my books I could celebrate who I am as well as teach others to earn a living through their writing.
Being an author is not a hobby. It is a business, and it is my passion to teach authors how to thrive in that business. I look forward to seeing your book business grow.
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