December 2011

Former Client’s Book #1 on Kindle

When Ken Brand approached me to help him with his first book, his idea was to capture a selection of his blog posts. I advised him to save the trees!

We then took the same expertise that Ken had shared as a blogger, determined the scope and structure of the book, and organized the material thematically.

The book, Less Blah  Blah, More Ah Ha: How social savvy real estate agents become trusted, preferred, referred – and rewarded was published in the summer of 2011. By December it was #1 in three categories on Kindle:

 

Just after the book was published, Ken talked about the experience of working with me. The recording is just 9 minutes long and covers:

  • How he had “flailed around” by himself without getting anywhere.
  • Why it takes an experienced individual — not necessarily the writer themselves — to structure a highly-readable book.
  • The benefits of being “slapped with a velvet glove.”

Listen here: Ken Brand More Ah-Ha Book.

Dr Liz on Blog Talk Radio

My parting comment on this Beyond Lip Service Blog Talk Radio show with Sharon Sayler: how developing better writing skills will help ensure you remain indispensable and employable…

Listen to internet radio with Sharon Sayler on Blog Talk Radio

9 Reasons Why Your Readers Will Wish You Had Worked With Me

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The pinnacle of the expert’s edge is reached when a thought leader writes and publishes books. ~ Ken Lizotte, The Expert’s Edge.

There’s nothing credible about writing a forgettable book: one that doesn’t sell particularly well, gathers dust on the shelves of those you give it to, and does little or nothing to enhance your reputation in your industry.

The world is littered with so-so books. How to make sure you don’t write one of them? Go through this list and ask yourself, honestly, whether you have the skills, knowledge, understanding, and time to accomplish all of these by yourself:

An idea that sets you apart.

Writing a comprehensive, definitive guide to your subject matter expertise doesn’t make you a thought leader. It makes you a curator. Ever wondered why Gladwell and Pink are such respected thought leaders? Here’s a clue. You shouldn’t write a word until your idea is stunning. And the first few ideas that come to you won’t be. Or do you disagree?

A burning question.

What’s the intellectual adventure that prompted you to discover what you now know and feel compelled to share? Can you articulate it clearly by completing: “The question that I answer in my book is…”? Without that you won’t be able to scope your book, as in knowing what to put in and what to leave out. You have thought about that, haven’t you?

Knowing your target audience inside out.

It’s tempting to gloss over this one. You know your reader, right? Actually, not as well as you think you do. I’ve worked with hundreds of aspiring authors and only in the rarest of occasions has someone proven me wrong. Will you?

Knowing how to organize your material.

Think about it. How many books have you given up on because you couldn’t make head or tail where the authors were going with them? Are you aware how many best-selling books use a structure that I call The Power of Three? Want to know more about that?

Knowing how to tell a story.

Joseph V.Tripodi knows. Coca-Cola is in the storytelling business. There’s a skill to this. We’re born with it but as with any proficiency, it takes practice. I write stories for a living. How good are you?

Knowing  the correct order of play.

A leading consultant sits in a room and holds up his book. It’s been out for about a year and it’s not going anywhere. He asks: Would the savvy individuals in the group help him brainstorm how to market it? By the time he figures this out his book will have been published for 18 months or more. It’s already “old.” He lost ground because he wasn’t strategic in embedding marketing into the book development process early on. Do you know the right steps in the right order?

Plus Three More

Every memorable book involves collaboration.

You probably skip the acknowledgements pages when you read a book. But they make for instructive reading. Like how many people the author thanks for helping them shape their idea, who provided expert guidance, and gave valuable feedback. Writing a book need not, should not, be a solitary experience. Is that a misconception you hold?

Trial and error wastes your time.

You’re a curious, life-long learner. But that doesn’t mean you want to waste time discovering what you don’t know you don’t know. After 25 years as a professional writer and author of 12 books (9 commercially published with sales exceeding 500,000 worldwide), I know many professional shortcuts because I’ve put in way more than 10,000 hours. Why not take advantage of that fact?

Writing an average book doesn’t reinforce how valuable you are.

There are 11,000 business books published every year. Only a handful of them are really memorable. Most are derivative. Some are downright embarrassing. In your case, you’re not writing a book for the fun of it (it’s hard but rewarding work!), or because you have lots of spare time on your hands. You want to launch yourself as an invaluable expert within your company; a luminary in your industry. If you take that seriously, you’ll be serious about getting the help you need to write an outstanding book.

Am I right?

 

Why Books “Tip”

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The Anatomy of Buzz: How to create word of mouth marketing

/ Emanuel Rosen

There is no marketing substitute for good writing. The last point is a key one and not always taken into consideration in studying buzz. The flow of information about a product cannot be separated from the quality of the product itself.

 

The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference

/ Malcolm Gladwell

Why did Ya-Ya Sisterhood turn into an epidemic? In retrospect, the answer seems fairly straightforward. The book itself is…beautifully written. It spoke to people. It’s sticky.

 

 

 

The #1 Reason Smart Professionals Write Forgettable Books

“The process of formulating big ideas and insightful points of view on the issues your buyers face, capturing those ideas in multiple content vehicles and sharing the ideas with prospects and customers to enlighten them, engage them in a dialogue, and position your company as a trusted resource.”

Of the 48 words in this definition of thought leadership by Forrester Research analyst Jeff Ernst, six are particularly crucial. Especially in relation to thought leaders planning to write a book. 

Can you guess which six words I’m talking about?

Certainly a thought leadership book needs a big idea and must communicate an insightful point of view. Its aim is indeed to enlighten and engage others in a conversation. And as the author you will demonstrate your indispensability to your company by positioning yourself (and therefore your organization) as a trusted resource.

But none of this matters if what you are writing about isn’t directly concerned with the issues your readers face.

Yet it’s surprising how many smart professionals fail to focus on their readers’ specific issues when writing their books. Here are three recent examples of people who wrote their books without professional help then contacted me about fixing the problems (which I respectfully declined).

  • The former CEO who had written a series of letters to his employees over the course of his tenure and had collected them together into a book. He wondered why it wasn’t selling. I told him it was for the same reason that cobbling together blog posts makes for a bad book idea: other than showcasing the writer’s thoughts on any given day, there is no overarching theme aimed at providing a solution to an issue, and hence no immediately discernable reason why someone should buy it.

 

  • The consultant who had compiled a smörgåsbord of a book on his subject matter expertise and, despite advice that it was far too comprehensive and detailed for the targeted business leader, clung to his original concept. Meaning that a reader looking for enlightenment would  have to wade through a history of the topic, an explanation of the science that read like an academic journal article, and a level of specificity about the nuts and bolts of applying this particular approach that C-level executives (the alleged target audience) couldn’t care less about.

 

  • The subject matter expert who, like the consultant above, first wrote everything she knew about the topic on which she was an undoubted authority – and then wanted to know how she might go about marketing his book. The problem was, given its comprehensive nature it was doubtful there was that many people interested in that level of specificity. She had never given the matter of her audience any thought before starting to write. A project that had taken her several years to complete and had cost thousands of dollars.

A leader is one by virtue of the people who choose to follow them. The same is true when an expert writes a book with the aim of shaping a conversation.

It is the readers who will determine whether you are a thought leader or not because this title can only be conferred, not claimed. Forget about them, and you can forget about everything else.

What books have you read recently where – like the literary equivalent of the Ocean’s Trilogy where the actors had more fun than many moviegoers – the authors have apparently ignored the needs of the reader?

 

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