I am one of the most egocentric people you ever met, because I am so talented. (Modest, not so much.) It’s always been this way. So how did it feel to participate in a somebody else’s party for a book I helped write?
More than a year ago, Dave Frankland and Nick Worth asked for my help in getting a book idea together for a book called Marketing to the Entitled Consumer. I helped them, that’s what I do. A few months later they realized they didn’t have time to get the writing done quickly, and asked for my help with that, too.
So I spent the much of the first half of this year hashing over ideas with them, conducting interviews, reviewing research, and writing. But this book is not my book. It is their book. We argued over every idea, every graphic, and every statistic. We shuffled chapters back and forth until nobody could say who wrote what. This was as collaborative a process as I’ve ever been a part of, and it was glorious.
I like spending hours on creating a chapter and then being told it’s wrong . . . and then living up to the authors’ idea of what they really want and making it right.
I like turning disagreements into more powerful ideas
I like pulling things together into a cohesive whole using the full set of skills I’ve developed over a dozen books.
It’s not my favorite thing when the author tries to change things at the end — when it is supposed to be settled — but I understand it and I respect it, especially if he is right. And these guys were always right.
This project had a special element. Both of the authors found themselves unexpectedly dealing with external forces of a very personal and distracting nature while we were writing. It’s not my place to tell you their secrets, but I can tell you that I made them a promise: that I would get their book finished by working harder for them and it would be great. I did that. My ego required it — it was a personal commitment to use my talent to do what was required. I couldn’t really do anything else.
All authors know that at the end of the process, after the manuscript is at the publisher, there is a period of promotional planning. I watched them get the great Don Peppers to endorse the book (“a warning shot across the bow of traditional marketing”). I saw them lining up parties and press interviews. And last night, I went to their book launch party in New York.
This was an experience I’d never had before. Here was a book I’d dedicated myself to — a book with my name on the cover — at the center of an event for somebody else. This was a celebration for the authors and their book “by Nick Worth and Dave Frankland . . . with Josh Bernoff.”
I had no idea how it was going to feel.
A whole bunch of people came. Some congratulated me. That was nice.
Nick gave a little talk to everyone and thanked me first. That was nice.
I met some of the people I’d interviewed. I showed them where they were in the book. They were delighted. That was cool.
A few people asked me to sign their books. I did.
But it wasn’t about me. It was about Nick and Dave and what they’d done. And frankly, that was nice, too.
I know this is a one of the best books ever written about how screwed up marketing is, and how it needs to change — with practical advice and proof, from people who know. It is a good book because of their commitment and all our hard work, and that’s worthwhile.
I watched a lot of people congratulate Dave and Nick and thought about what it took to get to this point. It felt really good to see all this happening. And it’s going to get better as more people read the book and realize how right they (we?) were.
I left while the party was still going strong. I didn’t need to stay — it was their party. But most of what I felt was pride, not only in doing a good job, but in helping out two friends. And that was more than sufficient, even for someone as egotistical as me.
I don’t have the emotional makeup to do this kind of ghostwriting for a living. I need to write my own ideas, which I will in 2019.
But I will do more books like this for other people whom I like, and whose ideas I believe in. Because for me, as projects go, this was as worthwhile as it gets.
(If the book looks good to you, buy it here. It’s worth your time, I promise.)
9 responses to “Somebody else’s book party”
You bought in for the “with”. When you saw “with” was heading towards “and” why didn’t you ask for co-authorship? Writing this …. what to call this…. ah, yes Artful sour grapes. Whining after the fact does not add to your reputation.
I am very happy with how this arrangement ended! Didn’t mean to suggest otherwise.
I do not think you expressed “artful sour grapes.”
Congratulations to you all!
That is not how this piece comes off.
-Ego feeling bruised
-Implied that as “authors” they did “write the book”
-Their personal life interfered with them writing the book
-Listing what you did at the party…. but was not there as a co-author
-Left before party was over
-Why write this piece? “Important book, but they didn’t write even though they got full credit as an authors”
How about writing a piece about what happen when the rules change, when you find yourself locked in to a situation when you are not going to get full credit for your work. How to face that as a professional?
I admire your work and read it because it opens my eyes to lots of things I am defensive about…..
If you’re right I really missed the mark.
These were great authors to work with.
They had great ideas.
They were engaged.
They deserve all the credit and success.
I learned about how pride and service could be combined.
The whole point was about learning to keep my outsized ego in check. Guess I failed at that in this post!
No, you didn’t fail or miss the mark. I got out of this post EXACTLY those points.
You did not fail.
We hear you, Josh. Nice mention of Don Peppers. He was my marketing mentor in the late 1990s, and I helped him with a chapter or two.