How frustrating is it to be a customer awaiting a product that will be delivered “any day now,” everyday? How Early adapter—someone who puts their money on the line to help a noble cause, for a promise of delivery, are to be rewarded for their loyalty—or they should be.
This feeling is a feeling I know. I am a customer more times during the day than I am a product or service provider. When I am disappointed by a bank, a mobile phone or internet provider or a restaurant, the great insult to injury is their desperate appeal for me to understand how difficult this is for them. “What I need you to understand …,” is often the last thing I hear because that’s when I stop listening. What I actually need to understand is that the company is empathetic about my needs and that they are bending over backwards to make it up to me.
And as much as this blog is, in part, to update buyers of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings of 12 Step Life, if you don’t read all the way to the end I want you to know that I feel your pain and Rebellion Dogs is rushing to bring our product to market but not at any costs. We want the book to meet your expectations. A year from now you’ll be very aware of how good or bad the book is, even if you don’t remember the emotional cost of having to wait another week or two.
Here is something I do know from running a business 101: Under-promise and over-deliver. A client’s satisfaction is a measurement between her or his expectations vs. her or his perception of the results. It’s true in serving a cup of coffee and it’s true in one’s love life—expectations and results, or more importantly our perception of the results will dictate how satisfied each of us will be.
So, knowing this, when I finished writing Beyond Belief in September or October, it seemed that targeting the holidays as a launch, I could get the news out right away and then exceed reader expectations; perfect. A pre-Xmas delivery went from improbable to impossible and at that time, January 10th looked like the outside drop date, even accounting for possible hic-ups along the way. Here we are, January 15th and “any day now” is still our official status. That sucks for you, and everyone waiting for a book. Your frustration is not a feeling I can undo. It’s also embarrassing for me, but let’s not worry about me right now.
First of all, every delay has had a silver lining. That silver lining is that with each delay the book gets just a little bit better. That’s good. Secondly, I feel like I should have been able to anticipate some of this. I can’t anticipate every obstacle or control every outcome but did I learn nothing from the music business? Young bands leave the recording studio, all excited about their new CD. I see this all the time. They book a venue for their CD release party and make posters. In most cities, you have to book two months in advance if you want a premier venue. Bands figure that two months will be lots of time to get the CD mastered, the artwork done and CDs printed and packaged.
Half the time, they are right. However, all it takes is one rights-release for a sample used in the album to be contested or delayed. Or what if there is a flaw in the master CD? Any number of unforeseen delays could mean that the whole project is setback 45 to 90 days. Bands still book CD release parties, album listening sessions and tours before they have the physical product in their hands. Then the big day comes and they are empty-handed. I see it all the time, yet here I am, red-faced from a situation that experience might have helped me anticipate.
A manager from a woman's treatment center that ordered books from us just laughed. Their hospital has published a number of books and reports of their own and she knows about delays. As she has a saying that has worn on her over the years: "Deadlines amuse me."
Getting a book to market is like playing dominoes. If any domino in the chain doesn’t execute as planned, the other dominos can’t make up for the rouge tile. So there have been a few rogue tile sand here is where we stand with the eBook and paperback versions of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings of 12 Step Life.
The eBook version is logistically a time consuming project. There are static and interactive eBooks. Static books are electronic versions of print—there is no interactivity. Interactive books allow users to move back and forth, look up definitions, go to end notes and back again and so on. We want our eBook to be cutting edge. There are over 100 end notes. There are over 1,300 links to 120 index/subject topics that we want to be hyperlinked to the corresponding pages for readers that want to see what there is to say on Traditions, relapse, codependency or Jungian individuation. People don’t start this book on page one—January 1st. If you start the book on August 19th, that’s page one for you. You won’t get to August 18 for 365 days. So the table of contents has to link to over 365 different pages to let people start anywhere.
The 12 & 12 community has no such tool for recovery. That’s because there is no template and we are having it made for us—for all of us, actually.
The paperback has had a few challenges. What’s in a font? Well not everyone has every font and if someone in the chain of events doesn’t have one of the fonts you started with, so what—they must have one that’s just like it or better. What I have learned about changing fonts is that not all the formatting follows along. For instance, if you lose a font, you might lose, say, all the italics words. In a 410 page document it will take a while to put them all back.
We had our own internal editorial logjam. The last issue was about writing in the we voice which has became the style dating back to the writing of the Big Book: “Many of us exclaimed,” “We know but a little,” “We stood at the turning point,” “Our stories disclosed in a general way what we used to be like, what happened , and what we are like now.” This voice is fraught with traps. If you stay true to the rules of grammar, you have phrases like “our drugs of choice,” “We became our own loving parents towards our own inner children,” “We came to believe in gods of our understanding,” “We cleaned our sides of the streets first.”
What might be grammatically correct would make the writer look like they had never stepped foot into a 12 Step meeting. No one talks like this. So we went looking for the rule. Authorities say, “Don’t do it.” When one insists, one is encouraged to pluralize everything. OK, so I looked for examples. Bill W. might start a sentence in the plural and change gears. On page 69 of Alcoholics Anonymous, writing about our Step Four, we read, “In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life.” “We” is plural, “life” is singular; yet sometimes Bill says, “lives.” This seems to be what I found in Philip Z’s A Skeptic’s Guide to the 12 Steps, Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living or many of the books in the Self-help genre. There was no rule. Each daily reflection had to be read out loud and we discussed what sounded right.
So where are we? I expect to look at the final draft January 16th. If it’s excellent we could be on the presses by Monday the 21st. I hate to jinx it but I will boldly say people who purchased a book or books will have them February 1, or to be safe, the first week in February. Otherwise I will leave everyone’s money under their door mat and you can find me busking in Mexico. Yes, I take requests.