We’ve been taught to believe you can do it all, and to some extent, I still believe I can. That being said, I also know my limits. There are those things I’m really good at and those that I probably shouldn’t do because other people are far better than me.
It’s why BookEnds has a bookkeeper. Sure, I can manage our money and run Quickbooks and do all the things needed to maintain the accounts of a successful business. Except, Eva does it better. She is a professional bookkeeper, and it’s her job to not just do it better, but to make our systems better and stronger, for us and our clients.
If I had wanted, I could have branched BookEnds out into all genres by myself. I could have represented picture books, SFF, middle grade, and narrative nonfiction, except there are other people who do it so much better. And by bringing in those other people, I am given the freedom to focus on what I do best—building and growing BookEnds, leading the agents to do their most amazing work, and representing the genres I am really good at, not just those I could do.
Freedom is Not Doing it All
The keyword to all of this is freedom. Sure, I could work my 10-hour days doing everything. Or I could work my 10-hour days on the things that I’m best at.
It’s because of the choice to give myself freedom that I’ve been able to grow BookEnds the way I have. If I’d depended only on myself these past 20 years, there’s no way we’d be successful in all the genres we’re successful in. There’s no way I’d have the time to mentor and coach my agents, teach Eva bookkeeping or even think of new and innovative directions to take us. I’d be spending a full day each week on bookkeeping alone (and probably making a lot of mistakes).
Giving Up Control
I’m lucky when it comes to finding that freedom and working with those who are better than me. I don’t like too much control. I’m happy to give up things I don’t love–bookkeeping, website design, or representing memoirs. There are not just others who do it better, but who do it far more joyfully.
For others giving up that control isn’t so easy. You often feel that no one can do it as well as you or that it takes too much time to teach them. But a full day teaching Eva our bookkeeping systems was far easier than a full day every single week for 20 years of doing it myself.
Believe it or not, all of this holds true for authors. How much are you trying to control? And how much more money would you make if you could instead focus on the things you love and are good at, and pay someone to do those things that feel to you like a waste of time. A necessary waste of time, maybe, but certainly not something you’re doing joyfully or well.