When “good enough” is not good enough

When Julie Isaac shared her frustration about what is and isn’t “good enough” on Facebook, I asked her to turn it into a blog post for us. Julie is an award-winning author, editor, and writing coach who’s passionate about helping nonfiction authors write, market, and monetize quality books. You can download her e-book, 7 Keys to a Successful Nonfiction Book (and Writing Career), at her website.

When “good enough” is not good enough

By Julie Isaac

I recently took an author up on his free print book offer.

I also bought the “upsell” or “order bump” – the special offer presented to me after I completed the form. It was a $20 printed journal (I love journals) based on the book.

While I liked what the book had to say, the journal was another story. It consisted of seven sheets of standard 8½ by 11-inch paper encased in a cover. And of the 14 pages of content, eight were exactly the same.

Price and value

I’ve certainly purchased products before that I didn’t think were worth what I paid for them.

I remember a $47 purchase that I thought was overpriced but would have seemed perfect (to me) at $27. But even though it felt like I’d paid too much, it was still valuable information and I didn’t regret buying it.

This purchase felt different, though.

When good is good enough

I’m a big believer in the idea that quality matters.

That’s because a great book or product creates dedicated fans who want more from you. That leads to long-term success, whether that means they end up buying other books you’ve written or additional products and services related to what your books teach.

So, if perfectionism (or anything else) is keeping you stuck – if it’s stopping you from putting yourself, your books, and your products out into the world – then you’ve got a problem. In that case, if the book or product that isn’t as good as you’d like it to be, but is as good as you can make it at the time, publishing is an important step forward.

Good is good enough in that case.

How “good enough” works in your favor

Even though your book isn’t everything you’d envisioned, publishing it may be just what you need to help you break through a creative or emotional block.

You’ll also gain valuable insight from the feedback you get from readers, as well as from going through the full publication and sales process.

Your next book, product, or course will be better for having had that experience.

When you’re not helping anyone with “good enough”

The free book I received had tons of exercises in it, which the author could have easily used to flesh out the accompanying journal. Yet, for whatever reason, he chose not to.

A longer journal would still have been relatively simple to create. It would have been so much more valuable and supportive of the print book. And, it would have reinforced the book’s primary goal, the outcome it wanted to help me achieve.

For me, this is a powerful example of when being “good enough” is not good enough.

Yes, he got an extra $20 from me, which helped him cover the cost of printing and mailing the book as well as paying for advertising. But he also lost a lot, because I will never give that man another penny of my money. I won’t register for any online course; I won’t pay for coaching.

If he thinks it’s okay to give so little value for “only $20,” will he also think it’s okay to deliver little value for “only $200” or “only $2,000?” Think of all he has lost financially because of that substandard journal.

And we’re in the same niche. While I won’t publicly shame him, I also will never recommend him to my thousands of followers. If anyone ever asks me what I think of him, I’ll be honest.

Content that helps readers makes a lasting impression

To be clear, quality is not about volume. My problem with the journal isn’t about the number of pages.

I’ve known people who’ve sold information that fit on just a few pages, and no one felt cheated because the information was so helpful. In fact, many people teach courses on creating “tiny offers,” but they emphasize making these brief and low-cost products highly actionable and truly helpful.

When you can help your readers solve a problem or achieve a cherished goal, they’ll remember you.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”When you can help your readers solve a problem or achieve a cherished goal, they’ll remember you.” hide_hashtags=”true”]

Learn to recognize the difference

While I encourage you not to let perfectionism stop you from publishing and putting your work out into the world, whether it’s a blog post, a book, or a course, it’s also important to – as best you can from where you are – strive to be helpful and deliver real value.

The idea that “good enough is good enough” is meant to free you from whatever’s keeping you stuck, not give you permission to cut corners and prioritize fast and easy over providing quality content.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”The idea that “good enough is good enough” is meant to free you from whatever’s keeping you stuck, not give you permission to cut corners and prioritize fast and easy over providing quality content.” hide_hashtags=”true”]

It’s up to you to find the sweet spot that allows you to publish valuable content that you feel good about in a consistent and timely manner.

How do you tell the difference between “good enough” and not yet “good enough?” Please tell us in a comment.

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  1. For me, “good enough” that involves leaving in typos and other errors that could be easily corrected by running spell check is completely unacceptable. And that’s true for me regardless of whether it’s a free blog post, a downloadable ebook or a printed book.

    Whether or not your “good enough” helps you get over some mental block is irrelevant to me – and I feel it should be irrelevant for you as well.

    1. So true, Marcia. The “good enough” advice is not meant to give you an excuse to publish shoddy work. It’s to help you get out of your own way if perfectionism is stopping you from publishing and letting your voice be heard.

      There are some truly excellent writers out there who can’t get past their inner demons. The best writer I’ve ever worked with still has not published her exquisite book. It’s been nearly 15 years since I worked with her, and her book still haunts me — how it made me laugh and cry at the same time, moving me to emotional depths most books I’ve read never get near.

      Not everyone who can’t bring themselves to publish their work–for whatever reason–is as good a writer as she is. Even so, many entertaining stories and valuable self-help books have been lost to fear, in one guise or another. Since we get better with experience, even if someone’s first book isn’t prize-worthy, I still see it as a valuable steppingstone on a writer’s journey toward becoming a great, or at least better, writer. So, it feels very relevant to me.

  2. This doesn’t really fit the given thesis. I’d argue that the shoddy workbook simply wasn’t good enough and I suspect at root that’s your actual opinion here as well. If it was good enough you wouldn’t have been so unsatisfied by your purchase or pointing out ways it could have been easily improved.

    “Good enough” doesn’t mean let everything go and release sh*tty products, it means don’t be a perfectionist.

  3. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know what’s “good enough,” so they publish before they’re ready. Then, their name and brand are damaged, making readers still avoid them in the future after they improve. I strongly advise people to save their money if at all possible and hire a professional editor. Getting feedback from someone who has industry experience helps authors determine what is and isn’t “good enough.” I certainly agree about perfectionism, however, which is usually just a fear of putting our work “out there.”

  4. Well “good is not enough”have actually showed me that it’s not only about writing is how the readers will view and admire your writing .As a school learner like I am I just seem to think I don’t know where to start with publishing .I thought I will go somewhere but sometimes I think of giving up .I thing of letting everything go ,my short stories and poems are very great ,readable,and remarkable ,only if I could publish or get maybe a publisher or sponsorship

  5. Wow. Now I don’t feel the least bit guilty at putting out a 167K word volume of award-winning fiction for $21.99 ($9.99 in ebook).

    ‘Everyone’ says indies need to use rock-bottom prices $0 – $2.99 to attract readers; I may not get those readers, but there is no way I will sell a book that takes about eleven solid hours to read for those prices, and the few times I’ve tried for a special promotion, it hasn’t attracted the right readers anyway.

    You are so right: the $20 journal you bought should have been PACKED with ways to take that guy’s ideas farther. Not only a ripoff, but a HUGE missed opportunity.

    1. I love your take on it, Alicia. Everyone has an opinion on pricing (as well as on everything else), and you’ve got to do what’s right for you, based on your goals and priorities.

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