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Don’t Rush Your Work

writing a book“Hamilton,” a new musical that received rapturous reviews when it opened Off Broadway recently at New York’s Public Theater, will not rush to open to qualify for the Tony Awards, but will open after the awards season, in the summer, so its creators have time to polish it.

This takes guts in a theater universe where you need awards recognition to build momentum for shows. Awards can help sell a show that doesn’t feature recognizable television or movie stars – and “Hamilton” doesn’t – and the exposure from awards is important, especially since tourists make up two-thirds of the Broadway audience, and local stars are usually unknown to them.

As Patrick Healey wrote in the New York Times, “The artists — led by the Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda — persuaded their lead commercial producer to forgo the immediate lucrative benefits of rushing “Hamilton” to Broadway this spring and competing for Tonys in June. Instead the producer, Jeffrey Seller, made the somewhat surprising decision to gamble the show’s current momentum — as a critically acclaimed hit at Off Broadway’s Public Theater — on Mr. Miranda’s conviction that “Hamilton” needs more fine-tuning and will still become a long-lasting smash after starting on Broadway on July 13.”

What does this have to do with your book?

You should think as Lin-Manuel Miranda has done with his show – don’t rush your book to publication before it’s ready.

I’ve worked with people who want their book out as soon as possible, to capitalize on some meeting or seminar. But if you don’t take the time to get the book in as good a shape as you can, and if you don’t give the marketing plan time to work, then you’re only selling yourself short. There’ll always be another seminar or meeting you can capitalize on. What’s more important is that your book be good, the marketing support it properly and you be happy with what you’ve written (rather than making do with what you’ve got ready to go).

Sure, people are eager to have their work seen by the public. But it’s better if the public waits until what you have to show them is the best thing you can do – as the artists behind “Hamilton” seem to know. A Broadway-bound musical is a much more fraught financial undertaking than a book – this one is supposedly budgeted at $12 million – and a delay might or might not jeopardize the momentum the creative team wants. Still, Miranda – the talent behind the hit musical, “In the Heights” – is right to trust his artistic instincts.

And you should trust your entrepreneurial self, too. Most entrepreneur-authors, when it’s explained to them why a book shouldn’t be rushed – do understand. They want their book to sell well, but they also want to be known for having produced something of quality. And quality can’t be rushed.

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