Why the Road To Perfection May Run Through Imperfection (A True Story)

This post is dedicated to all of you who want your “gift” to be perfect before releasing it to the world. I’m talking about those books and info-products and any other projects that aren’t quite ready and need “another round of edits” before they’ll be “perfect” and ready for the world.Musings_02

August 2014, I released my first Love-Based Copywriting book. While on so many levels it was a big hit (the comments and feedback I received took my breath away — people telling me my book and message made such a huge impact on their business and life) it was also pretty flawed:

* The title wasn’t quite right. This is evidenced by some of the comments on Amazon — if you look you’ll see several pretty negative reviews, which were very difficult to read and process.

Now, once I was able to soothe my very hurt writer’s ego (which included a lot of angst where I obsessively looked at other books and said “they don’t have negative reviews like that, what’s wrong with my book?”) I realized that the problem was the title promised something the book didn’t really deliver (and even though I tried to fix expectations in the intro of the book, I clearly wasn’t successful). The reviews I’m talking about are the ones who comment on the teachings in the book — the ones that attack my writing style, including one memorable one that said the book was “absolutely dreadful” and I’m “writing to a 6-year-old” I can’t do much about except to acknowledge you just can’t please everyone.

So clearly the book was flawed. And yet, I still released it.

LoveBasedBook_03* The cover wasn’t very good. This is not a slam on my designer, who is very talented, but on me. We were moving pretty fast near the end to get it out and I was distracted because my mom’s cancer had returned and she was getting ready to undertake a radical treatment at the Mayo Clinic (which ended up going horribly wrong, which I wouldn’t fully know until later in August, but that didn’t stop me from having a bad feeling about it during this time). I didn’t like the cover but I didn’t know what to really say so I didn’t say anything. I also hadn’t given her very good directions before she stared working on the cover (or, actually, I don’t think I gave her any direction at all) so this was something she whipped out that we just went with.

So, not only was the cover flawed, but I knew it. And yet, I still released it.

* The content wasn’t complete. I didn’t realize this until after I released the book and started talking about it on podcasts and interviews and on stage, along with fielding questions about it. That’s when I realized I still had a lot more to say about the philosophy of Love-Based Copy and I had simply scratched the surface with the book as it was currently written.

So yes, the content was flawed (because it wasn’t complete) and yet I released it anyway.

Now, this is the important part. Of the above flaws, the only one I KNEW when I released the book was the cover. And, the cover is the one piece that’s the most out of my hands, since my graphical talent is on par with a sponge (actually, on further reflection, sponges may have more graphical talent) and need to rely on others to bring their gifts to help support my vision.

But the flaws I have complete control over — the title/promise and the content — I would NEVER have realized they were flawed UNLESS I released it and let the marketplace reflect back to me where I needed improve it.

Let me say that again in a slightly different way — it was impossible for me to make the book “perfect” without first releasing it as “imperfect.” 

So, for all of you reading this who have an unfinished project somewhere that you haven’t released yet because it’s not quite “perfect,” I would like to invite you to consider the possibility that perhaps it is impossible for you to make it “perfect” without releasing it as “imperfect” first.

Plus it’s a lot easier to course correct when you’re actually moving forward (if you’re standing still, there’s not a whole of correction you can actually do).

Would love to hear your thoughts on how you were able to release your imperfect project.

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One thought on “Why the Road To Perfection May Run Through Imperfection (A True Story)

  1. Will Bontrager

    My current products are website software and technical articles and books.

    I try to be professional. And the how-to, step-by-step stuff *must* be correct. But I’ve long ago vanquished the need for my products to be perfect.

    Perfection is subjective and my products will never achieve that state for everybody who comes into contact with them.

    However, professional products can be improved.

    Sometimes, improvements can be made only after feedback, as I think is the point in the article — seeing the product from other points of view, points of view that aren’t available until others have a go at it.

    A professional product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s perfect. A good product, yes. Perhaps even outstanding. But never perfect for everybody.

    Will

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