Shortcuts Are Quality Crushers

Your message is compelling. Your story is exciting. Your research is ground breaking. You want your book out as soon as possible. If you make that your primary goal, then you may be opting for the shortcut route, cutting corners wherever possible to achieve it. Each corner that you cut is a quality crusher. The cumulative effect of these compromises is a product that reflects poorly on you, the author.

You may achieve the goal and sell a few books on the anticipation you built up with your audience. When the book fails to deliver on its potential, you discover the harsh reality that the effort required to sell it simply cannot make up for the compromises you made. You can continue to promote it, which is a bit like pushing a string up a hill. You can redo it, which costs time and money. You can withdraw it from the market, which simply means giving up. Chances are, you will choose to redo it. If you have not already reached this point, then take a step backwards, reset your focus on the brilliance and quality of your message, and take the time to deliver it with the respect it deserves.

Incomplete content is the first quality crusher. In the world of fiction, a common shortcut is a wonderful storyline destroyed by undeveloped characters. Readers must relate to the protagonist and her or his allies, as much as they relate to the story itself. If you don't take the time to fully develop the characters, then readers are left to their own imaginations and will find the story difficult to follow.

Non-fiction works - other than memoirs - lose credibility if assertions are made with no supporting research. In this internet age, supporting research is much easier to find than it was just twenty years ago. The salient point of the research must be written into your work to directly support your arguments and lead readers to your conclusions. References, or links to external content are useful for readers interested in reading more on any specific topic. Relying on references to communicate your message will fall flat and make you look lazy. Don't cut the work short because it is too long; leave that to the editing process.

Editing shortcuts are significant quality crushers. Sometimes people ask, "How do I go about writing a book?" One answer is, "Write it once, and edit it seven times, and preferably not alone." Writing places the words of the work on the page. Editing makes the work readable in the style, quality and effectiveness you desire. Writing styles can vary greatly for different types of works, to reflect differences in culture, backgrounds, and subject matter.

A scholarly work of English literature about hillbilly life in the Ozarks will never work as well as a story written in plain English and injected with colloquialisms and other local references. Whatever the desired style, the language must draw the reader in and compel them to read on. Poor grammar, spelling errors, run-on sentences, reliance on PhD vocabulary, shifting tenses, passive language and poor word-choices are just a few of the common editing shortcuts that are quality crushers.   

Design shortcuts are highly visible quality crushers. The book cover must attract a potential reader and prompt them to pick it up and open it. The interior layout must be well organized, consistent and use font and type styles that make it easy to read. A poorly designed book can destroy a compelling message in a matter of seconds, simply by the initial perception it creates. Book titles, sub-titles and back cover text must all ignite the reader's curiosity and embark on the journey with you.

These are but a few of the shortcuts you may be tempted to take in the development of your work. Shortcuts can also be taken in production and marketing, with equally crushing effects. The advice remains the same, take your time and do it right. If you don't treat your own work with respect, you can't expect others to do that either.