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Episode 23: Stealth Mode

September 10, 2012

Wikipedia defines Stealth Mode as:
…a company’s temporary state of secretiveness, usually undertaken in order to avoid alerting competitors to a pending product launch or other business initiative.

After landing a publisher in just 15 minutes and discovering our project was a hit, I put the kibash on any further dissemination of, well, anything. Concepts surrounding the book, business plans, timelines—it all went into blackout. We entered stealth mode. Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) were the first order of business. Our new friends at White Cloud, and even Stefanie (the team’s expert therapist) signed NDAs—all were bound to silence upon pain of death.

I was serious about it, too. Throughout my life, I had repeatedly witnessed the phenomenon of companies coming up with the same idea I did. My thoughts would typically precede theirs by two to five years…but, invariably, someone else would eventually mimic my thoughts. What is it they say? “Great minds think alike.” When it’s time for an idea to surface, it often surfaces in more than one place at a time. And, as I wrote earlier, nefarious forces are always gathering against you. There are always people out there ready to run with your ideas. Our project needed to be three things, fast, silent, and first–lest the competition scoop us.

Our meeting with Steve took place in the beginning of April, which left us, if my calculations were correct, 20 weeks to complete our manuscript to make our planned Valentine’s Day 2012 launch. 20 weeks! Jeez, I had already been writing for nine months. 20 weeks would come and go in the blink of an eye.

My mind spun at warp 9 with the list of items about which I was completely ignorant. Book covers, printing, contracts, reviews, editing. Added to that mind-numbing list was Steve’s feedback. Uneven writing. Lacks description. Unclear message. Inconsistent voice. What the hell is a voice? Get an editor. Yeah…that makes sense…clearly the first step. I needed to find a local editor. But, I didn’t have a clue how to accomplish that task either. I needed Steve’s help…desperately. Forget 20 weeks. If I didn’t get a burning bush from on-high soon, I’d wander the desert for 40 years.

So, I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances. I went into a writing frenzy.

I chopped like a hairdresser on meth. The manuscript soon resembled the floor around a barber’s chair—chunks here, strands there. Still not having a clear target, I attempted to tighten the content as much as my feeble skills permitted. Every day entire sections moved, new bits were written, and everything between was madly edited. This wasn’t a novel, so I couldn’t stream-of-conscious-it-from-beginning-to-end. It was a combined reference and how-to; the flow of the material wasn’t obvious.

There was one thing that was obvious. Our original concept of writing the book from three voices was not going to work. Even though it would have been great to have the viewpoint of the unbridled romantic (me), the converted skeptic (Judy), and the provoked thinker (Stef), it was just too complicated for us to execute. I have would have to write the entire book from my viewpoint with Judy and Stef providing input as to the content as I created it.

20 weeks…

How in the heck were we going to pull this off?

Click here for Episode 24: The Bookmuda Triangle

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