There it was on the wall of the first printer I used for a booklet. The sign said:
The first time I saw that, close to 50 years ago, I thought it was funny. I learned quickly that there was a lot of wisdom in it. Book projects, like all projects, require tradeoffs. I tell clients that one of their most important decisions is deciding which of the three factors are most important. We will sacrifice everything else to it.
Pretty much everyone I talk to about a book wants to have a book as soon as possible. Most clients back off when they realize that they might have to sacrifice quality and cost for speed.
There’s one exception. Some clients come with a hard date they need their book. It’s usually a major publicity event, a big speech, or some other event where they don’t control the timing. Then the critical decisions are what’s good enough so we can make our deadline.
Publishing your own book, even writing your own book, can be expensive. For some clients, that’s okay. They figure they can make more money doing what they well and paying for as many services as possible.
Those clients are rare. Most people want to keep reasonable control on expenses. The way to do that is to cut the things you buy or hire and do them yourself. Sometimes that means you must learn how to do them and sacrifice speed and quality.
Some clients want the best possible book, no matter what. That choice slows down the process and increases the cost, sometimes dramatically.
If quality is your primary goal, your hardest decision is when to quit revising for small improvements. A client and I parted ways when, after over two years, they were still making small changes to their manuscript.
Book projects are the proof of the saying “You can’t have it all.” Decide what’s most important to you. Then use that same standard for your choices throughout the project.