By Tim Templeton
In early 2002, my assistant Mary Lou popped her head in my office, eyes wide and whispered, you’ll never guess who’s on hold; it’s Ken Blanchard!
Only knowing Ken by his best-selling books stacked in my library and world renowned leadership reputation, my shocked response was, “Really!”
A bit anxious and trying to project a bit of confidence, I picked up my phone and said, ”This is Tim”. In his warm and upbeat voice Ken replied, “Ken Blanchard here Tim and I want you to know I just finished reading your book and I think it’s marvelous! What are you doing for breakfast tomorrow?” Quickly thinking to myself, whatever I was scheduled for is now cancelled or rescheduled, “I’m wide open Ken.” He replied, “Super, let’s meet at the RB Inn at 8:00 AM for breakfast and talk about your book.”
Both living in the San Diego north county area, the next morning, after jumping on 15 South, it was about a solid 3 wood hit to the next exit, Pomerado Drive, then a quick right, and a couple of miles to the RB Inn. After taking some time to chat over breakfast Ken said, “Tim, I really think your message of putting relationships first in business is an important one, and I want to help you get it out to a larger audience. You have a good book Tim, I would like to help you make it a great book.” At that time, not knowing – what I didn’t know, I simply smiled and nodded my head in the affirmative, thinking to myself, hey, it’s a great book now, I’ve sold over 70,000 self-published copies, it’s translated in 3 languages… in retrospect, youth really is wasted on the young, boy did I have a lot to learn-about everything.
Ken continued, “I have an offer for you Tim, if you’ll come to my office and coach our management team on the principles of your book, I’ll see to it that you get a publisher on board and get this important message out to a larger audience. I work with 3 or 4 really good publishers and think they all would have a definite interest in your book.”
Looking out over the winding, uphill finishing hole at the RB Inn, on what would become one the most important meetings of my career, I responded, “Fantastic Ken, let me ask you a question, if you were in my shoes, knowing what you know, what publisher would you choose?”
Without hesitation, Ken quickly responded, “I would go with Steve Piersanti and Berrett-Koehler Publishing and I’ll tell you why. The others are bigger, and they might give you some up-front money, however no one will ‘work’ your book over the long term better than Berrett-Koehler. The others will do a great job of editing, packaging and promoting your book, but after 90 days or so, you are on your own – and they are on to their next author and their next release. It’s not a knock against them, it’s simply how the publishing business normally works.
The reason I would choose Berrett-Koehler over the others is they will continue to promote and ‘work’ your book to its full potential. You won’t receive advance money, but I feel strongly over the long term, you will be very happy with that choice.”
Ken Blanchard was speaking from the center of his experience and of course, not being a complete idiot, I did choose to negotiate with BK Pub. After meeting with Steve Piersanti, ultimately The Referral of a Lifetime was accepted for publication. To my delight it was also chosen to be the lead publication in The Ken Blanchard Series.
Wow, nothing like an experienced mentor’s sage advice, Ken was sooo right!
Working through the editing process with the BK editorial team I well remember the day I received my “it’s already a great book” first edit back. I felt like I was back in school and just received an “F” on my paper… lots of red notations. There were comments like, “you said it this way on page 13, then you said it this way on page 86. I suggest you say it the same way on both pages so your reader will better understand what you are communicating.” BK Pub’s team did in fact make it a much better book-on a number of fronts.
And, here it is 13 years later and BK Pub is still ‘working’ my book. In Oct of this year, after not communicating for some time, I contacted Jeevan and mentioned I would be interested in creating a revised edition. He and Steve treated me like a “prodigal son” returning to their family. Ken’s words, “no one will ‘work’ your book better than BK Pub was in fact prophetic. BK Pub is scheduled to release The Referral of a Lifetime, the 2nd Edition next summer! A final note, after the holidays Ken and I are scheduled to meet for breakfast again at the RB Inn. Of course highly insightful, Ken has a great sense of humor, so I look forward to catch up and discuss my new release with BK Pub. Candidly, I’m as excited about the breakfast meeting with Ken as I was 13 years ago-just in a different way, a more experienced way.
Much thanks to Ken for being such a great and giving mentor. Thanks to the BK Pub team, and thank you Jeevan and Steve. God willing, I look forward to working with you all for another 13 years!