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.