Friday, June 09, 2006

Calling in a Professional

As recent readers are well aware, we recently tore out our cobbled-together pasture to clear the way for someone who knows what he's doing to put in a new, Percheron-proof fence.

It has taken me years to come to the realization that though I may be capable of doing a thing myself, that may not be the best choice in order to have the job done in a timely, economical, competent manner.

For instance, I built the horses' shelter / lean-to in our pasture (with help from my friend Chari and my wonderful husband Robert). I'd never built anything of any consequence before. One look at the lean-to attests to that. Oh, it's still standing, and it serves its purpose. It's functional. But it ain't pretty.

Sometimes being a do-it-yourselfer can teach you a new skill. I am by no stretch of the imagination what one could call "mechanically inclined," but I once successfully detached, tore apart, cleaned, balanced the innards, reassembled, and reconnected the carburetor for my Ford 9N tractor. It works just fine.

I also dismantled the same tractor, replaced the old radiator with a new one, and put it all back together again. Still runs like a top.

Sometimes, however, it's just best to hand the job to someone who knows what the heck they're doing -- who doesn't have to consult a how-to guide in order to do what needs to be done.

Internet marketing guru Alex Mandossian's advice in this vein is to "hire people who play at the things you work at."

This certainly holds true in my field. Most people who have never written a book before would be well advised to hire a professional coach, consultant, or editor to look the manuscript over before sending it off to a publisher or -- as is increasingly the case -- self-publishing.

If you're going to commit something to print (which means that it will be around in one form or another indefinitely) AND it's going to have your name on it, it is absolutely in your best interest to take it to an objective third person who can help you fix the flaws before the project goes to press.

Will it cost you something? Absolutely. Hiring a professional always does. But the question that's more pertinent is: What is it worth to have a book that reads cleanly, that presents your vision in the best possible light?

We've all suffered through books that never should have seen the light of day. It's not that the ideas within them were no good -- it's just that the execution or presentation of those ideas was amateur at best.

Kind of like my lean-to.

He Who Will Not Call's book is in the editing stage at the publisher. They hope to send it out to print within a month or so. I know less than nothing about the subject matter of the project (though I wrote the entire thing -- a practice I would never advise). So earlier this week, I called in a favor from a friend of mine who is a professional in the same field, though she specializes in a very different niche market. I asked her to read the manuscript with a pro's eye, to ascertain that the information presented in it is correct.

There are times for pushing through, relying on yourself, and taking responsibility for the results of your amateur efforts. And then there are times to call in a professional.