HR veterans Edie Goldberg and Kelley Steven-Waiss had a mission: help other organizations change the way they work. To them, a book was the platform to share their knowledge. The question was, which publishing path should they take? Here Edie Goldberg talks with our publisher Maggie Langrick about why she and her co-author chose hybrid publishing for their book The Inside Gig, and how this option best served their needs. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Publishing a book is a major initiative and a big investment of your time and money. How did you make the calculation that this was worth it?
Kelley and I had worked on a project together for four years around the future of work and how a lot of the processes in running a traditional organization start to fall apart when you look at the fundamental changes that are happening, whether it be demographics, people’s workplace expectations, digital transformation, or how companies need to be much more agile because businesses are shifting quickly today. We knew we wanted to get our voice out there. So, the question was, how do you do it? We felt that a book was something really substantial, that would give us the forum to help put it all together for people. There were tons of books that talked about the theory of the future of work, but not in a practical sense, like what have people done and how does it work and how do you do it? We wanted to bring that to masses of people and that’s hard to do unless you have a playbook to give them. We wanted to empower other organizations to change the way they work and to understand how to do it.
How important was it to see a direct point A to point B financial return on this investment? Or were indirect returns on investment part of what you factored in from the beginning?
Our ROI was not a direct “I put in X amount of money and I’m going to get Y out of selling books or whatever.” It was a long-term play. It was establishing ourselves as the leading experts in this area. In fact, I got a call from a leading academic researcher at USC and he said, “I see that you have a book coming out in this area. I’m working on a chapter on digital transformation and I want to know if you have experience setting this up in a company, and what companies are doing it. I’d love to cite you.” To me, that’s it. All of a sudden, we become the go-to people as the source of what’s possible.
In order to be a worthy vehicle for your ideas, the book has to represent you well in the design and the way the content is developed, written, edited, and presented. Did knowing this would be a high-profile piece you would put out factor into your decision to work with a hybrid publisher as opposed to self-publishing?
Yeah, we were very clear about that. We did not want to self-publish because we felt that having a publisher behind us and having the distribution into bookstores was important to get it out in front of people.
You were actually working with a traditional publisher before you turned to hybrid publishing. Tell me about your journey with them and where you decided to part ways.
They were actually really brilliant and they helped us get to the book title and the six core principles. We were working with the CEO of a publishing company and then he handed us off to somebody else. I’ve heard time and time again that this is an industry issue, but there are a lot of editors or developmental editors that can be a little eccentric. The editor didn’t understand some things and rather than asking, she didn’t want to appear dumb, and so she avoided talking to us. And the publisher was slow. We wanted to make sure that we got out ahead of the trends. As it is, the concept of internal talent mobility has started to become really popular and there are new technologies coming out all the time that are addressing this topic. We started seeing some of that come out while we were in this process. Had we initially decided to go with a hybrid publisher, our book probably could’ve been out a year earlier.
With a traditional publisher, you’re on their terms and you’re on their schedule. And we wanted to get out in a particular time frame. My husband self-published a book so I knew what the self publishing process was like, but we wanted a path where we had the guidance of professionals. As first-time authors, we had no idea what we were doing. Yes, I could have hired an indexer and I could have hired an editor. I would never have gotten somebody that did as lovely a book design as we got. With hybrid publishing, I feel like there was much more collaboration. We were paying for a service and that is a difference in the exchange. In traditional publishing, they’re banking on you and you have to work on their terms. In hybrid publishing, it’s a partnership and you are paying money for that service to be provided to you. So, when you agree on those timelines, everybody’s in it altogether.
It sounds like you feel it was money well spent.
I love that we came into this with a book title that we loved and you made us question it. You didn’t push us on it. You didn’t make us change it. In fact, we only changed one word. But you did have everybody take a step back and question what our intent was, and that was helpful. Yet you were never heavy-handed and this is what I have heard of traditional publishers, that they set the book title. You get input but they set it. As opposed to in this way, you provide input but it was ultimately our call.
The Inside Gig: How Sharing Untapped Talent Across Boundaries Unleashes Organizational Capacity shows you how to unlock the hidden skills within your organization to keep your employees happy and engaged, improve your organization’s agility, and lower your costs. Learn more about the book here.
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