December 20th, 2012

“I did everything wrong.”

These were the words that leapt to my mind Monday afternoon as I was preparing for the launch of my first e-book, “Scandalous: Lessons in Redemption From Unlikely Women.” The thought wasn’t simply nerves or anxiety. It was the truth.

With everything I’d learned about launching an e-book, given all the videos I’d watched, articles I’d read, and blog posts from authors I’d devoured, I knew I had done it all wrong.

But I also knew this: I did everything wrong, but I did it!

Last December I had a choice to make regarding my blog. My site was – quite frankly – floundering. Readership was low. I hardly posted. The blog had very little focus and the few times I did post only landed me in trouble. I didn’t know whether it was worth continuing.

But I enjoyed writing and engaging with people, even if no one ever told me I was good at it or very effective. The choice, then, was whether to shut the whole thing down or actually try and do something worthwhile and meaningful. I talked to my wife, Rochelle, and we agreed we’d give it one year. I decided to put some money into my blog, get a self-hosted site, adhere to a strict posting schedule, leverage Internet tools to build a platform, to wake early and stay up late working, and – for lack of a better phrase – work my butt off.

And I did.

I also set a goal of being published in at least two online magazines and writing an e-book before the end of the year. All of which happened. Plus, my blogs readership increased to numbers beyond what I could imagine. How did all this happen?

I did everything wrong, but I did it.

I wasn’t afraid to discipline myself or publish unedited when my proof-readers weren’t available. I decided to ask the help of friends and to print what I was passionate about, even if it was controversial. I said “yes” to every publisher and publicist who wanted a book review. I signed-up for online seminars and webcast. I listened to tons of podcast. I sat down and wrote. Then a wrote some more. And then I wrote some more. After that, I re-wrote what I had written.

Soon there was an e-book — beauty, warts, and all.

When writing an e-book, there are a lot of actions you’re supposed to take and an order in which you should take them. I hardly did any of them. Did it hurt the product? Maybe. Could ’Scandalous’ have been more polished? Of course. No book lands in the wild without a typo or two. And none are what the author wanted. But to put your work into the hands of your readership means doing something regardless of whether or not you do it perfectly.

I lost weeks of writing because of other responsibilities and sickness. I got the unedited proofs to my copy editor weeks after I intended. Formatting for Kindle and ePub turned out to be a disaster and I had sank all the money I was able to sink into the product. I hadn’t planned on soliciting endorsements, but after having received a few, I decided to use them. Only after I put all the endorsements together did I realize I’d written a book about women and had no female endorsers. Again, I did everything wrong, but I did it.

Now I have an e-book that hundreds have downloaded and are reading while perfectionists are still sitting on their hands. People spend a lot of time sitting on their hands, waiting for everything the be “just perfect”. That’s why many of us never reach our dreams. What you need right now is to abandon your concerns about the blemishes; about failure and criticism and doing everything right and – in the words of Nike – “just do it.”

No one gets important work done by waiting for perfection (you can tweet that).

Long time Apple executive, Guy Kawasaki, says, “The most important thing you can do with your product is ship.” You can always edit, deliver a second edition, apologize, update, patch, and make it better. That’s not a call to poor production, we always need to do our very best. It is a call, however, to produce something. Ship. Get it out there. Deliver.

Whether you’re serving the local church, an orphanage, a local hospital, a university – wherever you serve, you owe it to your organization, yourself, and your God to get important work done. Produce. The world needs your unique gifts.

Your work matters. In the end, you will receive e-mail, phone calls, and have conversations with people saying how your work and gifts have blessed their life, even if somewhere inside you it feels like you did everything wrong.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 at 6:00 am and is filed under books, Scandalous, writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “I Did Everything Wrong”

Clay Says:

Thank you Sean. Even after you’ve left Houston, you still make a mark on my life.

Jeremy Fike Says:

I like your post, Sean. It reminds me of a story in one of Malcom Gladwell’s books. He said that a college professor was teaching a pottery class and split the class into two groups. The first group was going to be graded on the quality of one clay pot. They only had to make one pot but it had to be perfect to receive a perfect grade.
The second group was going to be graded on quantity. They did not have to make one perfect pot but they had to make 50 clay pots.
Malcom Gladwell said that by the end of the class the group who had made 50 clay pots were making far better pottery than the group that only had to make one perfect pot.
That story has stuck with me because, while it’s important to do my best and strive for perfection, it’s also important to finish something, learn from my mistakes and keep trying without getting discouraged.

Sean Palmer Says:

Great story. Is that in one of Gladwell’s books? I love his stuff.

Adrienne Says:

Thanks for this post, Sean. Way to go on your e-book! I, too, am learning to let go of perfection and to be okay with “good enough.” You are right about how much time is wasted -and how little is accomplished- while perfectionists sit on our hands waiting for everything to be prefect!

Adrienne Says:

*perfect. Ha ha…what a timely typo! 😉

Deanna Love Says:

I for one am so happy that you “did it.”

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