Welcome to the Coach’s Corner! Despite the fact that I’m a bit of a car geek, I wouldn’t call myself a race fan. But this year’s Daytona 500 was really something to watch—if you could manage to keep track of when it was being run and broadcast. It brought to mind the unpredictable nature of life and all things we attempt to organize. Three major publishing lessons emerged during “Race Week’s” events.
Jeff Gordon’s engine blew on lap 81. The three-time Daytona 500 winner had crept up from 16th position to actually lead the race briefly before flames started shooting out from underneath his Chevrolet. You can bet that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent building Gordon a powerful car. One lose bolt or a flying piece off another car can easily cause catastrophic problems for anything going in circles at 200 mph.
During a yellow caution, while jet engines were being used to dry the track, Juan Pablo Montoya’s steering broke, sending him up into turn three where he collided with one of the diesel trucks towing one of those powerful jet engine-powered track driers. What happens when you add 800 gallons of jet fuel to a truck’s diesel fuel tank and stir with a stock car? A fireball. Melting tires. A racetrack ablaze.
It’s not a race without a little bumping and rubbing—the nudging of race car against race car—as several dozen cars careen around a two-and-a-half mile track. The announcers were estimating that with X number of laps to go, there would probably be Y number of crashes. As unscientific as the formula sounded, they were pretty darn close. With that many speeding machines and humans involved, it’s a wonder there weren’t more crashes.
It reminded me of all of the whirring parts on a book printing press. Manufacturing is a lot like car racing. Sooner or later, something’s going to go wrong. How we handle the “oops” and “uh-ohs” is what sets us apart.
It takes as long as it takes
Spectators who took their seats Sunday for the Daytona 500 probably had their eyes on the skies over Florida. But who could have imagined that this year’s race would have stretched all the way to into Tuesday morning? The checkered flag was certainly a known goal. 500 miles was the stated distance to be run. Due to the weather, accidents, and delays of all sorts, the actual race distance was increased by a lap or two—just to make sure that the race didn’t end under a yellow flag of caution.
As you prepare your book files to print—or have us do it for you—be ready for the reality that your printing process can be affected by many factors. Thankfully, weather rarely affects your book’s printing journey. You don’t have other books bearing down on yours at 200 mph. It’s not a race to the finish line. There is no more important goal than to get to the end of the process with great-looking, well-produced books, reading to take the market by storm.
Start your engines!