Have you asked your publisher this question during the pandemic?

Last week, a CEO called with a problem. He’s unhappy with his publisher and wants to transfer his nonfiction book to our team.

It’s an unfortunate situation, but he’s one of the lucky ones. He has his book files ready to share and discuss.

Other authors who’ve transferred to our team weren’t so lucky. Some were abandoned by defunct publishers. Some were neglected by unresponsive publishers. Unfortunately, none of the self-published authors had their original book design files.

No book files mean extra time and expenses in re-creating the cover. It means re-formatting the interior and re-distributing with retailers. It’s an unfair headache for authors who already invested a lot in their projects.

During this pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ask a tough question. Authors should ask their publishers:

“How will you protect my work in a troubling situation?”

It’s a question that executive coach Glenn Smith says is necessary for contingency planning. For 20 years, Glenn has helped executives and business owners face challenges, including crises like Covid-19. He walks them through a 7-step plan to ensure business continuity.

  1. Preserve cash.
  2. Assess the business impact.
  3. Assess legal/regulatory limitations.
  4. Create scenarios.
  5. Brainstorm actions and opportunities.
  6. Take immediate action.
  7. Practice PDCA: Plan, Do, Check, Adjust.

In protecting businesses and books, Glenn advises imagining possible and worst-case scenarios and outcomes. “Ask yourself, ‘What might you lose? What are potential actions that can be taken for each scenario?’” he says.

Then communicate with your vendors including your publisher. “Their processes impact your business, including your brand, inventory, current commitments, or technology,” says Glenn. “Together, identify responsibilities and immediately implement the actions that will protect your work and processes. Review the plan regularly, updating to reflect staff changes or other issues.”

So imagine possible and worst-case scenarios. Ask yourself, “What if my publisher is suddenly unresponsive? What if my publisher goes belly-up?”

Check with your publisher. Ask: “How are you protecting my work in case of a troubling situation?”

Listen to the processes they have in place to protect you and your book. Look for a willingness to ensure your business continuity proactively. And if you’re not on the same page, take immediate action – or move on before it’s too late.

Glenn Smith is CEO of Glenn Smith Executive Coaching. He coaches national and international business and organizational leaders in executive coaching, business coaching, and sales training. Schedule a speaking engagement, read the blog, or download more resources at https://www.glennsmithcoaching.com.



Ella Ritchie is the founder of Stellar Communications Houston, a nonfiction book publishing and business communications team that works with nonfiction authors, business leaders, and federal government agencies. Connect with her on LinkedIn, read the blog, or find out more on the website.

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