If a Job’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Right.
If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. I don’t remember who first said this phrase, but I heard it first from my dad. Have you ever heard such a thing? It sounds like common sense, right? Not always. Sometimes we think that people only care about that wrapper, the outside. A belief that I used to hold until one grueling, hot summer of painting.
When I was just a kid in my pre-teen years, I learned a great lesson about taking pride in your work and not cutting corners. I had an opportunity to work during the summer helping my dad on the job with his local handyman business. Finally, I was going to make some money. My dad wasn’t like my friends' parents who gave them an allowance. If we wanted money for anything we had to work for it, even at home. A good lesson in itself, but not the one I’m talking about today.
Remember to finish the 'entire' job
One hot day in the middle of the summer I was assigned the job of panting a front porch for a customer. No problem, I thought. The porch was only about six-foot by six-foot. A relatively quick job for someone who painted for a living. I did not paint for a living. My dad patiently showed me how to paint with the proper amount on the brush and strokes, telling me to paint the entire porch. My dad was a fan of the show you once method. The first time you got patience. After that, there was no excuse for not knowing how to do something. Just stop and think about what you were shown.
The job, our last for the day, had started just before lunchtime with the sun high overhead. Since we lived nearby, my dad ran home to pick up some lunch for us. I finished the handrails and quickly worked my way to the deck. I worked so quickly that I had finished the job by the time he returned. I was looking forward having my lunch and taking the rest of the day off with my friends.
Finish the job, again
I thought I was finished that is. Can you guess the first thing he said as he walked up the driveway? “Looks good from here, son. Did you remember to paint underneath and between the boards?” After a split-second smile then plummeting spirits, I replied as most any kid would. “Why? Nobody’s ever going to see it.” Wrong answer. Oh, and apparently the ‘entire’ porch meant the entire porch. Who would’ve thought? His response was simply, “You and I will know.”
After some grumbling, useless arguing, and another hour later I finally finished. It was too late to meet up with my friends now but it was done. A job worth doing and doing it right. Then, as if to just make me feel a little smaller about trying to get away with only doing half the job, something else happened. The elderly owner of the house comes out from around the corner, the back door I guess. She walked straight up to the steps of the porch and looked from left to right. Then she did something I would never in my childhood mind of thought to do. She steadied herself with a hand on the rail, and bent down to look underneath. I probably grumbled something about adults to myself in the back of my mind, but I also remember smiling. Smiling at her surprise and gratitude that a child had thought to paint underneath everything for a good seal and do the job right. Yes, I took the credit. Thanks Dad, for letting me.
My dad already knew something that I didn’t. He knew what the customer wanted and needed. It needed to look nice, be lasting, and not cost an arm and a leg. Our customer was on a fixed budget.
Go the extra (s)mile
This is a great lesson to learn in any profession. Whether you are an indie, small-press or self-publisher, your budget will often be tight. You need to learn to do the job right the first time. I have to admit that I didn’t always do this, and I’ve had to pay for it every single time either in time, money, or both. Don’t be in such a hurry to just get your next book out. You’ll end up losing money in the long run and taking away precious time from your next project. You may even have to sacrifice family and friends time.
Who says what’s right?
If you don’t know, don’t waste time guessing. Ask someone. Look at what other successful authors or publishers at your level are doing. Join a group to share ideas.
What does the right way look like?
This can be subjective. Based on who you talk to, you might get different answers. If you talk to five different people, you are likely to get five similar yet different answers. I say 'similar yet different' for a reason. They may be saying some of the same things, yet emphasizing a particular aspect they believe is most important.
Authors and publishers, what you are looking for is a consensus of the stuff that readers of your books like. Don’t panic if you don’t know the exact ‘right way’ to do something when it comes to publishing. Believe me, there will always be somebody out there willing to give their two-cents worth. Some of the advice may relate to you, some might not. The key is to listen to what is being said, gather the information, then decide whether to discard it or use it.
Commonsense tips to stay on the right path
Take your time and do it right. Just as a side note, that lady later became a regular lawn mowing customer for my brother and I. She used to tip us with ice cold bottles of coke when we were done.
Do you have a publishing question or predicament? Let me know here .
I’ll answer it in an upcoming blog or my newsletter.
Keep an eye out for the EntrePublishing Community. A place for authors, publishers, and anyone interested in learning more about the publishing process.
Join my email newsletter (Publisher's Corner) for publishing updates and get a free checklist to help improve the look of your manuscript.