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Hard candy advice

Need to know something important? And get some feedback on a critical project?
Getting the best advice on anything is always a tricky task. Many of us gravitate to asking our friends. This is generally not wise and a big waste of time.

  • Your friends hopefully like you, so they will say nice things about you.
  • Your friends are also often not experts in what you are asking them for advice on.
  • And free advice is also often aligned with quality (you get what you pay for).

A couple of weeks ago I was wrapping up a very important book proposal. This was a second chance to score with a big publisher. My first submission was kicked back (with important publisher/editor suggestions) that I needed to add or change. I knew it was now or never. While I felt good about my revised draft, I was not willing to risk the result (or my investment to date over 100 hours) without running it by a proven expert.

I remembered a coach I had worked with in the past who had written some books with this same publisher that I was having dialogue with through my agent. I shot him an email, explained the situation. He agreed to provide a read through and some counsel for $1000. In making my decision, I looked at what this book deal was worth to me, certainly that figure times at least a 100 times, and I knew this consultant/expert had the experience I needed with this publisher and many publishers.

So I fired off my draft with an email summarizing many things that I thought were important for the consultant to know. He fired back a short email. “Karen, you need to be more concise in your emails, I don’t need all of that. And your first draft gets a C”. He also provided very concise bullet points on what I needed to improve.

Our subsequent conversations were also very direct, no sweet candy coating, in fact, they were Sergeant-like blunt.

I got to work. I didn’t get emotional about him not blowing sunshine up my skirt or feeding my ego, which my friends would have done if I asked them for feedback.

After 8 intense days of focus and reworking my proposal, following my consultants advice, I sent him back the new draft.

This time he responded, “Excellent! Well written. Fascinating chapter angles. This is ready to send to the publisher”. The consultant also offered to write my forward and any testimonials. WOW! This consultant has written 30 titles in 9 languages. That said a lot.

Was it a joy and pleasure working with this very smart dude? NO. It was not like paling with my buddies.

Did his contribution significantly increase my work product value and the likelihood of me winning a great contract. Oh YES!

For more advice, check out: Mind freeze, is there a fast way to thaw your thoughts?