Mistakes, I've made a few... • 21 March 2007 • The SnowBlog
Mistakes, I've made a few...
I love this new take on the uber-cheesy motivational poster: more here.
So I've been reflecting on all the numerous mistakes I've made in the last four Snowbooks years (the ones before then are far, far too numerous to count and include selling my soul to the blue-chip devil and thinking that bin liner sales mattered - and getting over-heavy with the f5 key at Superdrug and ordering 24 pallets too many of Superdrug Own Label Disposable Razors. I imagine they're still rusting away in a warehouse in Pontefract even now. My lasting legacy.) It genuinely surprises me that we have got thus far given some of the mistakes I've made, but yey, we have survived. I present to you here a small selection, to act as a beacon, so that you may safely navigate the choppy waters of small businessdom yourself. Or summat. 1) Design by committee. There is a fine line between working together and working by committee. Working together means that you take the best bits of everyone's thinking and, without ego, combine them so that the result is greater than the sum of its parts. That's how we do cover design today and it works. Design by committee, however, is when you let the need to achieve consensus become more important than the end result, and you capitulate on what you know is a rubbish design just to avoid an argument. Bad.
2) Being sold a story. Hmm. Agents are great an' all, but boy can they talk. I'm a bit (although not much, it has to be said) wiser about filtering out the truth from the patter now, but back in the day I got a bit starry-eyed about a book and over-forecast how well it would do. Truth be told, it was early in our Snowbooks life and I was really flattered to be approached by an agent and 'trusted' with a book. They said they would kindly allow us the opportunity to have this sure-fire bestseller - it was purely an act of generosity - of course they could sell it for a lot more elsewhere but thought they'd take pity on us and give us a leg-up. You can imagine how that all turned out. The incredible thing was that I bought a second book from the same agent! (I really love the author, is the problem.)
3) I cringe at this one, still. Thinking that, just because I'd just found out about black plate changes, it would be a good idea to print a book, at the same time as the English version, in Bahasa Indonesian. We didn't sell One Single Copy. I wonder why?
4) Misrepresenting a book. We published City of the Sun in 2005. We'd just had great success with Adept and we thought publishing was dead simple - just do a cover like The Da Vinci Code and the sales roll in. So we designed City in the same vein, although as it's a post-apocalyptic romantic thriller set in Russia the cover didn't really reflect the story. It did ok, but not as well as it deserved, so we're going to relaunch it next year with a new cover that better reflects the story.
I really am so grateful to the authors who worked with us when we were just starting out and finding our feet whilst blundering around like we did. I'll pay them back one day. But phew, that's enough for now. Bit too embarrassing. I might counter this (and boost my ego back up) with some Things We've Done Well. The good thing - and the whole point - about mistakes, of course, is that you learn from them and improve yourself and make sure those mistakes don't happen again. I reckon that just so long as a mistake doesn't put you out of business, you can put them against the Training budget.