I’m a big fan of personality tests. In fact, one of my strengths from the popular Strengthsfinder test is individualization, which they say means that I am “intrigued by the unique qualities of each person.” Of course these tests can’t completely define a person, but it does give insight into what makes a person tick, and what a person might do well (or not so well, though Strenthsfinder doesn’t like to focus on that negative part).
But I think knowing what you are good at, and what would better be left to someone else, is absolutely key in publishing these days. Except for very large publishers, hardly anyone can do everything and still be profitable.
So often, I see publishers frustrated because they try to do it all. Their staff becomes stretched too thin and something, somewhere begins to suffer.
Self-reliance, either as an individual or a company, is a hard mentality to break. It’s the American way. Or so we have thought for many years. But, especially in publishing, I think people are starting to understand the value of working with a partner to best use the strengths of everyone.
I was recently “twitterviewed” by Claudia of the blog On a Limb with Claudia, and host of a weekly Twitter chat about book marketing (#bookmarket, Thursdays at 4:00 EST). She spent the month of January interviewing regular contributors to the chat, and she always ended with the question: “Everyone has a super secret ninja skill. What’s yours?”
On a personal note, I think one of my strengths is my caramel corn (see recipe below!) But I also talked about my company, Bookmasters, and how our skill is that our services go so deep, which makes it easier for publishers to focus on publishing instead of managing a list of partners. Or instead of trying to do it all on their own.
As a company, we can help a person take their book all the way with all the steps from manuscript to completed sale. And for some people, that is exactly what they need. This way they can focus on writing. Others may have skill in cover design or promotion. Whatever it is, they can just choose what they need and move on.
But my point is, figure out what it is that you do well, and do it! But for those things that are more difficult for you, or just don’t rock your world, outsource! There is no shame! In fact, your business will likely be better because you will be able to expend all your best thoughts, energy, and passion on what you actually like instead of trudging through a checklist of publishing tasks. That is the beauty in finding and embracing your super secret ninja skill.
Best luck to you. And leave a comment with your super secret ninja skill. I’m curious (of course I am, I’m an individualizer!)
Super Secret Ninja Popcorn
6 quarts air-popped corn (plain)
2 sticks margarine or butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon baking soda
Spray a large (turkey-sized) foil pan with cooking spray. Add popped corn. In a heavy pan, bring to boil stirring constantly: margarine, sugar, corn syrup, salt.
Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. (Watch that it doesn’t start to turn dark brown, it will get a bitter taste.)
Stir very well and pour over popped corn. Mix and cover with foil. Place in preheated oven at 275° and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Let cool and store in zipped plastic bags.
Photo: hellosputnik, Creative Commons