This column is by Srinivas Rao, Host and Founder, Unmistakablecreative.com
A few years ago, my friend AJ Leon got a book deal. Several months into the process, he wasn’t happy with the book the publisher was asking him to write. And he did something unthinkable, and that on the surface seemed crazy. He returned his advance. Then he published The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit as a free collection of essays, which has since been download over 100,000 times and led to a Kickstarter campaign for a physical version of the book that was fully funded in less than 4 hours.
Prior to getting my book deal for Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best, I was in talks with another editor at another publishing company. Any time I sat down to work on the book proposal, I struggled. Whenever I talked to the editor, it felt like we weren’t finding common ground. She wanted me to write a book that I didn’t truly want to write. And more importantly, it didn’t sound like a book that I would be proud to put my signature on. I found out later from a friend that the division she was with folded sometime that year.
Creating what you’re proud to put your signature on however is not a guarantee of commercial success.
- You might love it, but it might not a strike a chord with an audience.
- It might not reach tens of thousands of people the way you might have hoped it would.
But if you’re not proud to put your signature on something, it’s a tall order to expect that other people will think highly of it. In his Make Good Art Speech, Neil Gaiman said the following:
The things I did because I was excited and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down. And I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them.
If you create something you’re proud to put your signature on, no matter how it turns out, at least you’ll have the work.
- Create the kinds of things that you’ll look back on with fondness 10 years from now.
- Create the kinds of things that you want to be remembered for when you’re gone
- Create the kinds of things that you’ll enjoy making, and that light your eyes up.
- Create the kinds of things that cause you to fall in love with the process and not the prize.
- Create the kinds of things that you’re happy to share with anybody who cares.
- Create the kinds of things you’ll be happy to tell your kids about.
- Create the kinds of things that nobody could in the way that you could, unmistakably yours.
And above all, create whatever you’re proud to put your signature on.
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