Posts Tagged ‘author’

Consider how many things we’re familiar with that come in “threes”:

Tenors. Magi. Bears.

Fates. Virtues. Graces.

Snap. Crackle. Pop.

There is something magical about the number three, which permeates writing just as much as anything else. This is perhaps why we have three-act plays; a beginning, middle, and end for stories; and sayings that come in three parts – from Julius Caesar’s “Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)” to Thomas Jefferson’s “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Next time you review your favorite nonfiction books, look to see how many of them are written with three sections. Examples from my own library include: Daniel Pink’s Drive; Blue Ocean Strategy by INSEAD professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne; neuroscientist Andrew Newberg’s How God Changes Your Brain; Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port; and Alan Weiss’ mega-bestseller Million Dollar Consulting.

For serial entrepreneur, Trevor Blake, the decision to structure his book this way is immediately apparent from the title: Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life (BenBella Books, Inc., 2012). Part One: Escaping the Quicksand offers three chapters (there it is again!) on how to “reclaim your mentality” by focusing your thoughts more on what you want than what you are against. Part Two: Staying Out of the Quicksand – again, three chapters – offers one simple yet timeless and universally applied (at least by extremely successful folks like Henry Ford and George Washington Carver) technique for creating more winning ideas. And Part Three: Beyond the Quicksand articulates how to transform those ideas into achievements.

Written in the style of many of the truly great “self-help” authors of the early 20th century, Blake’s book is as much a memoir as anything – one you would advised to put on your reading list above books written by people whose only claim to fame and source of wealth has come from writing – well, self-help books. Contrast that with Blake who, like so many successful entrepreneurs, came from nothing to create businesses that were eventually sold for hundreds of millions of dollars. As the back cover blurb by Drew A. Graham, managing partner of Ballast Point Ventures states: “Finally, a book about how to succeed by an author who has actually achieved something before writing about it!” Not only that, I found Three Simple Steps to be a compelling read.

But back to the theme of this post: how to structure your nonfiction book. Oftentimes the biggest issue I see with manuscripts has to do with the way the author has organized their material – or, rather, not. Typically these books read like streams of consciousness with no discernible structure.

If you know what you want to write about but have no earthly idea how to set it out in a book, consider what I describe to my clients as The Power of Three. Of course, it’s easy if – like Trevor Blake – you have a three-part process to describe. But what if you don’t? Let’s go back to some of the other examples I gave earlier.

Take Blue Ocean Strategy. Part one outlines the philosophy and explains what it means to create a “blue ocean”; part two clarifies the strategy behind the concept; and part three explains how to execute it. Alan Weiss’s Million Dollar Consulting, on the other hand, begins by identifying what you need to do to prepare to be a million dollar consultant, then goes on to the tactics you would need to employ, and dedicates the final part of the book to ways to grow into the role.

One final example: Daniel Pink’s Drive first considers why we need to look at motivation in a different light; secondly he looks at what are the three elements of “Type 1” motivation; and thirdly shows you how to implement what you learn in his book.

So, even if you don’t find yourself with a neat “three-act play” as Trevor Blake did with Three Simple Steps, you can still find a way to make this structure work for your book. Part one might offer the philosophy behind your concept, why it’s important, or some foundational issues for the reader to consider. Part two could lay out the strategies for success and what planning needs to be put in place to use the book’s material successfully. Part three would then offer “how tos” or tactics to employ to help the reader successfully implement that learning for themselves.

What favorite book of yours is structured this way? Please let me know in the comments below. And for more about this topic, I invite you to go to Episode 6 of my audio series.

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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Have you ever attended a writing workshop were one of the participants doesn’t want to publicly share their book idea because it’s so good someone is likely to steal it? Yeah, right!

As avid readers of Acknowledgments pages know, (take a look – they’re incredibly instructive), professionals never think that way. Well-known novelists will tap the resources of numerous experts to research their plots; leading non-fiction authors discuss, share, and ask for feedback on their ideas before they begin to write.

It appears to be the mark of the amateur writer to fear “giving away the store.”   Which is probably why so many of them are incredibly stingy with the insights they’re prepared to give in their books. This seems to be especially true of consultants, who fear that if they put all their knowledge into a book no one will need to hire them!

If that thought has concerned you in the past, I highly recommend Gihan Perera’s excellent Fast, Flat, and Free: How the Internet Has Changed Your Business (First Step Publishing, 2011).

What Perera has produced is that rare find: a high quality, self-published book whose content is vastly more valuable than the cover price. Indeed, what stood out for me as I read the book was how generous Perera has been with his material.

How many business books have you read where you get to the end only to wonder, “How the heck do I put any of this into practice?” Particularly frustrating are those books that give high-level advice without any examples or a means of embedding true understanding (rather than just knowledge).

When I work with clients I always want to ensure that they’ve covered the “4 Es” – preferably within every chapter. By which I mean:

  • Give a clear Explanation of what you’re talking about.
  • Offer reputable Evidence (from other books, scientific papers, respected articles etc) to back up your claims.
  • Provide relevant Examples so readers can see how others have applied the advice you’re offering.
  • Follow this up with ways that readers can achieve Empowerment, by suggesting practical exercises: things they can think about and do.

It’s rare to find a book that embraces all four of these reader “must-haves” – and even rarer in a book that’s self-published – which is why, hands down, Perara’s book is so outstanding in its accessibility and usefulness.

Here are just two examples of what this author did that any subject matter expert worth their salt should be able and willing to do:

  • In the Introduction Perera identifies one of the biggest challenges for small businesses today: how to compete with the “big boys.” He relates the issues faced by owners of small wineries in the region of Western Australia close to his home town of Perth, then outlines 18 specific on-line marketing and positioning actions that these wineries could take (two for each of the nine strategies highlighted in the rest of the book) – which could be adapted by any reader.
  • In the section cleverly headed Familiarity Breeds Content, Perera mentions a prospective client who wanted to position herself as an expert in selling Belgian chocolates. He reminded her that she should think instead of becoming an expert in solving her customers’ problems and goes on to mention three concrete ways in which she – and other readers – could do exactly that. (Unfortunately the silly woman decided she just wanted to be an expert on Belgian chocolates!).

There’s a valid complaint about this book in one of many testimonials on Perera’s website, and it’s one I agree with: this isn’t a “dip in, dip out” book. It’s a book that compels you to sit down, pen in hand and take copious notes. It’s choc-full of amazing advice – the kind, I imagine, that Gihan the Consultant offers to his clients for large sums of money.

Why isn’t he concerned about “giving away the store” as so many author-consultants do? Because once you’ve read his book you’d hire him in a heartbeat!

In this Fast, Flat and Free world we now live in there are – as Perera points out – so many “passionate amateurs” who will share their expertise with you for nothing. They’re all over the place, including online bookstores, where you can often get suckered into buying their ill-conceived, poorly written works full of superficial thinking.

Authors like Gihan Perera (and you, if you follow his example) have nothing to worry about in the era of Fast, Flat and Free…because they deliver those rare, superior experiences that savvy business people will always pay for!

Note: For an interview with Gihan Perera and some of the other authors featured in the Thought Readership series, please visit my AG page.

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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Daniel Markovitz’s A Factory of One

Imagine you’re a performance coach or consultant who wants to write a book. You’re aware of the “competition” in the form of well-known efficiency experts including David Allen, Julie Morgenstern, and Tony Schwartz. You also know that the basic advice of scheduling rather than constantly checking email and keeping your desk organized has been done to death. What can you contribute to the conversation that’s not only new – but truly transformative for the reader?

What would you do when faced with that challenge? Throw in the towel?

Not necessarily. You could do what Daniel Markovitz has so deftly done in A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance (CRC Press, 2012). You could turn your topic on its head and ask: If it were that easy, why aren’t we all more efficient? Maybe it’s not more tools that people need, but a different strategy? One that’s focused on the root cause of poor performance, not just its effects.

Markovitz has successfully illustrated one of the approaches every nonfiction author needs to consider today, unless you’re content to languish among the “me-too” authors whose books are gracing the remainder tables; combine your core topic with something no one else would think of associating with it.

In the case of A Factory of One, it’s Lean principles, a concept that originated in Japanese manufacturing to “dramatically boost quality by reducing waste and errors.” As the back cover of Markovitz’s book states, “(U)ntil now, few have recognized how relevant these powerful ideas are to individuals and their daily work.”

By cleverly combining personal performance, Lean principles, and self-awareness exercises inspired by the Japanese concept of gemba, this author has succeeded in offering a compelling read that actually works. Shortly after closing this quick and entertaining book I was eagerly on the hunt to spot “waste” in my own working day. And, yes, there was plenty – which otherwise would have remained invisible had I not reviewed this book.

You may already be familiar with the international best seller, Blue Ocean Strategy, which focuses on ways to make the competition irrelevant. This is an issue for all thoughtful authors, many of whom worry that with so many books being published these days it’s becoming harder to produce anything truly unique.

Not so! For a start, most authors (self-published or otherwise) have no clue how to market themselves, so their books don’t even come to their target audience’s attention, which reduces the competition somewhat. But by taking the approach that Markovitz so powerfully illustrates, you need never worry ever again about someone else duplicating or even “stealing” your book idea.

This question is part of my 7-step book development process: What other idea(s) could you combine with your basic concept to strengthen your book and make it uniquely yours? When you think of the permutations, you’ll realize there are endless opportunities for anyone creative enough to do this.

Just think of the ways in which this approach has produced innovations in daily life:

  • Journaling + computer technology = blogging.
  • Coffee + Italian café culture = Starbucks.
  • Wizards + school + and childhood rites of passage = Harry Potter series.
  • Ginger + chocolate + wasabi peas = Terry’s Toffee Asian Accent.™
  • The Roman republic + Montesquieu’s checks & balances + John Locke’s philosophy + English common law (Magna Carta) = The US Constitution.

If you want to avoid worrying about whether someone, in your industry or field, is writing a book identical to yours, you need to adopt a “Blue Ocean Strategy.” Which means going that extra mental distance to come up with unusual concepts – as Daniel Markovitz and others have done – that will make your book uniquely yours.

Next Up: The Teenager’s Folly: The author who only thought he had something new to say, and how to avoid making the same mistake.

To read interviews with many of the authors I’ve reviewed for this Thought Readership column, please go to my Articles page.

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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Think back to your days in college or high school. You’re sitting in a lecture hall or classroom. The speaker is droning on and on using confusing vocabulary. Your mind drifts. You know you should be paying attention but you can’t.

Remember what that was like?

Then hold that experience in mind next time you write. Especially when you sit down to write a book. Because you can’t mandate that your readers will, like dutiful students, force their way through to the end like they had to in those interminably dull college lectures. They’ll shut your book and be done with it.

How do you avoid what I call “textbook creep” – the tendency of new authors, especially, to write incredibly worthy but dull prose?

For a start, you could study a book like Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (Pearson Education Inc., 2011).

A quick bit of “back story,” first. This was not a book I had intended to review. I bought it only because I was developing a program that covered the metrics of strategic communications and thought it would be especially interesting to my participants to learn about how to measure social media effectiveness.

Thinking that this was going to be a painful but necessary exercise on my part, I dove in to the book – and was pleasantly surprised.

What does author Olivier Blanchard do that so many folks, writing these kinds of instructive books, don’t? Three things.

Before I tell you what they are, however, look at these examples from Chapter One:

“Building a social media program for an organization is hard. I won’t try to convince you otherwise.”

“What do people do on social media all day?… At its core, what people do on the social web is communicate and interact.”

“Now that we have touched upon what a social media program is, let’s discuss what a social media program does.

In the first example, I feel like Blanchard is talking to me — human being to human being. Not expert to novice or lecturer to student. That endeared me to him straight away (remember Know, Like, and Trust from Thought Readership #2?).

A line like “I won’t try to convince you otherwise,” is very conversational. When you read that you already get a sense of Blanchard as a down-to-earth guy who isn’t going to try and pull the wool over your eyes.

In the second example, the author anticipates the kind of questions that his readers will be asking as they read the book. I mean, what do people do on social media all day, for crying out loud? Again, this is a conversational sentence that also conveys that Blanchard is having a two-way dialog with his readers, not offering a soliloquy.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I chose the word “soliloquy” and not “monologue,” it’s because a monologue is where one person dominates or monopolizes the conversation, and a soliloquy is where they are talking solely to themselves.

Neither are good ways to write a compelling book. Never forget that there is a person reading your words that might not agree with you or have questions of their own. If you can anticipate and address these, as Blanchard does skillfully throughout Social Media ROI, then you’ll score major Brownie points with them.

Thirdly, like all good presenters of information, Blanchard throws in lines that move us deftly from one set of information to the next. Again, that third example above is very conversational and natural – the kind of thing you would say if the person you are writing for were sitting down with you.

So how do you develop a more conversational tone in your writing, if this is something that doesn’t come naturally? One tip that was useful to a client of mine – let’s call her Brenda – was to speak and record.

It was the oddest thing. When I’d ask Brenda a question about her subject matter expertise during our sessions, she was incredibly articulate and natural. But ask her to write something by herself and it was a whole other ball game. Her prose was stiff, full of jargon, and read like it was coming from a textbook.

What we ended up doing most of the time was for me to ask her questions that I believed her readers would want answered and to record her responses. Now that Brenda is working on her second book, she’s doing this for herself.   

Even if you’re not planning to write a book, bear in mind how tortuous it is when “experts” start pontificating about their material, almost forgetting that there is a human being on the other side of the interaction. You don’t want your book (or any business communication) to have the same reputation as the Medicare legislation – over-written gobbledegook – do you?

Make sure your book is as “user-friendly” as Olivier Blanchard’s Social Media ROI. Otherwise, guess what? You’re likely to find you don’t have any users!

Liz-AlexanderLiz Alexander is a prime example of how childhood passions are the best indicators of future careers. She’s been writing since she could pick up a pencil, was reading newspapers at age two, and Homer’s epic poems by the age of 8. As “Dr Liz” (granted after five years in the educational psychology doctoral program at UT Austin), she draws on 25 years of commercial publishing experience to transform subject matter experts into best-selling thought leaders. Instead of the usual bio blah, blah, you can find an infographic depicting her communications career here, as well as social media links. Liz loves mutually respectful, intelligent arguments; feel free to challenge anything she writes here, or on her website
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When Bob Dylan released his third studio album in 1964, The Times They Are a Changin’, the powerful message spoke to the times. But this message was hardly anything new. The ancient Greek Philosopher Heraclitus (535~475 BC) was a philosopher of change, famous for the saying that, “You never step into the same river twice.” And well before that the ancient Chinese compiled the I Ching, or Book of Changes, dating back to the 2nd and 3rd Millennium BC.

It is almost redundant to say that it is Time for a Change, except that this is a universal and timeless theme, always true, and always relevant to you. Nevertheless, the tools and means of change vary with the times. It is never too late to review who and where you are as the world changes.

Even change itself is changing, through the process of Accelerating Change. Futurologists from Buckminster Fuller (Geodesic Dome) to Alvin Tofler (Future Shock) and John Naisbitt (Megatrends) have delineated the process and the paradigm shifts in technology, social, and cultural change. Change is no longer in the domain of specialists, because we all experience it deeply in our own lives.

Ask yourself what you were doing 5 years ago, or 10 years ago, and chances are you have experienced major changes in your career or personal life, many of which you had no idea were coming. It is fair to predict that the same thing will be true 5 to 10 years hence. The purpose of this new column is to provide perspective on change, and introduce innovative ways in which we can navigate and benefit from it.

Following the structure of my previous column Flexible Focus, this weekly column will also cover topics in 8 major categories:

  • Goals and Flexible Focus
  • Problems in Goal Pursuit
  • Creative Ideas and Focussed Action
  • Presenting Goals to Others
  • Secrets of Collaboration Success
  • Templates for Problem Solving
  • Goals in the 8 Fields of Life
  • 8 Principles of Mandala Thinking

Many people think that they need to get ready for change, or even try to prevent it. Yet once you recognize that change is inevitable it makes sense to shift your thinking and find ways to be ready, to welcome and initiate change.

Think of it as a paradigm shift from being passive to staying proactive.

Our constant companion in this process is Time. We will look at ways in which to measure, manage, and manipulate time through your attitude and the use of powerful tools for Goal planning and implementation.

We do not travel alone. We will look at the importance of communication and partnership in achieving great things that you could not on your own.

Learning from experience is not always the best way to leverage your success. We will look at guiding principles, tools, and templates that can reduce the long journey of our predecessors to a shorter path for our ourselves that those who follow us.

While change can be wrenching and hard, it can also be invigorating and inspiring. So much depends on how we view and engage with it. Join us in this journey, and let us join you in yours.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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You’re reading this post a week later than I originally tended. I couldn’t complete the first draft of this blog post for a very simple reason, I hadn’t organized what I wanted to say before I started writing!

As a result, last Sunday, I wasted a couple of valuable hours, missed an important deadline, and did a pretty good job of getting stressed out.

Don’t let this happen to you! Let me share some of the easy ways you can organize your ideas for articles, blog posts, books, and ebooks before you begin writing! Choose one of the options below, and make it a daily habit.

Taking the time to organize your ideas before you begin writing can spell the difference between writing a brand-building book or never getting published!

Organization and writing

Organization must precede writing. Organization provides a structure for your writing. Organization helps you “test drive” the sequence and relevance of your ideas.

Most important, organization eliminates uncertainty and promotes strong, concise writing that supports the message you want to share. Organization also helps keep you enthusiastic and motivated by making it easy for you to track your progress as you write.

Options for organizing your ideas

In a previous Author’s Journey blog post, How to Create a Content Plan for Your Book, I showed how I used mind mapping software to develop my latest book, #Book Title Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, and Event Titles.

The mind map, above, represents the difference between last Sunday’s “f and f,” i.e., failed and frustrating, writing experience and today’s smooth and enjoyable writing experience.

Although I’ve written a lot about using mind mapping as a writing tool, including a 5-part blog series about creating a writing dashboard, you don’t have to use a mind mapping software program to organize your ideas before you begin to write.

Another advantage of mindmapping software is the ability to export your mind maps to your word processing program, which eliminates unnecessary typing.

10 other ways you can organize your ideas

In addition to mindmapping software, you can also organize your ideas using a variety of low-tech and software tools, including:

  1. Index cards. One of the classic “hands on” organizing techniques that authors have used for decades is to write important ideas and details by hand on index cards. The index cards are then displayed on the walls of your office, where you can easily add and delete cards and rearrange their order.
  2. Sticky notes. Another popular solution includes sticky notes, such as ©3M Post-it® notes, small squares of paper with an adhesive strip on the back that can be applied to walls or other surfaces. Advantages of this approach is that the small size of the notes encourages brevity, and different colored notes can be used to visually code the ideas.
  3. Folders. Yesterday, when I interviewed Joe Vitale, Published & Profitable’s latest author interview, Joe  described how he begins to organize new books by creating folders for each chapter, and placing print-outs or clippings in the right folders.
  4. MS Word lists. One of the easiest idea organizing techniques is to use Microsoft Word’s bulleted and numbered lists feature to flesh-out the contents of each chapter. Using lists, you can quickly drag and drop ideas into the right order and sequence. I’ve used lists to organize ideas since the earliest word processing software.
  5. MS Word tables. Microsoft Word’s table feature offers an even better, multi-column, tool for organizing book ideas into chapters and sections. You can add as much information and as many points to each topic as the tables will expand as you add content. After you’ve finished entering ideas, you can easily sort them. Worksheets created in Word can later be copied and pasted into the manuscript files for each chapter of your book.
  6. Worksheets. Before I enter text into Word tables, I often print out blank copies of the worksheets I’ve prepared for my book coaching clients, and fill them out by hand—often while watching television or while my wife is driving. In a computer age, there’s something really exciting about writing by hand. The next day, of course, I copy my handwritten ideas into Word worksheets, of course. Typing my handwritten notes the next day improves what I’ve written by giving me an opportunity for a quick edit.
  7. Spreadsheets. Many of my coaching clients who come from a corporate background use spreadsheet software, like Microsoft Excel, to organize their ideas. After many years of working with Excel, they’re so familiar with its capabilities that using it is second nature to them.
  8. PowerPoint. Another existing tool you can put to work as an organizing tool is PowerPoint. Instead of writing ideas on index cards or sticky notes, simply place each idea on separate slides. When you’re through, go to PowerPoint’s Slide Sorter view where you can drag and drop each slides into the proper location. Later, you might even print-out your presentation and use the slides to jot down additional ideas.
  9. Flip-charts/paper. If you’re working with a co-author, or a group of contributors located in the same room, consider brainstorming ideas and placing them on flip-charts or large sheets of paper. A recently published book, Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, describes how to use flip-charts and sticky notes—together–to organize complex projects.
  10. White boards. White boards are yet another highly visual tool you can use to organize your ideas as you create a content plan for your book. Erasable white boards, hung on walls or placed on stands, make it easy to display the big ideas associated with your book, as you add supporting ideas. To learn more, I recommend David Sibbet’s Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity.

Habit is more important than selection

Your choice of book organizing tool or technique is not as important as the consistency with which you use the tool. As you prepare the various writing projects you work on during the week, which probably includes articles, blog posts, proposals, and white papers, try out different tools.

When you find one that works, make it a habit! Commit to using it every day as part of your routine.

Remember the words of Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt in The Power of Focus, “Your daily habits determine your success!”

Other tips include saving your work when you’ve finished. You may be able to reuse some of the ideas that you considered including in your book, but decided not to include. In addition, try to use your organizing tool as a way of displaying progress on your project. For example, each time you finish writing about a topic, remove the index card from the wall or change the background color or text color.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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When I am asked “Why do you write”, its usually followed by a “Everyone  knows most writers don’t make a living out of it. So, why would you do something like that?”

In answer to this,  the following quote by James Baldwin resonates with me.

“You write in order to change the world…. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” – James Baldwin

If you keep this in mind, you can sense the difference writers’ and authors’ tribe makes to this world. And in pursuing this passion, you come to a point, when you meet and interact with many people who are changing the world one article and one book at a time. Seth Godin says, “He writes because there is no better way to spread ideas”… I agree. So, if you look at this Tribe of authors you will see their commitment to spreading ideas, sharing ideas – like a free trade of exchange of ideas to shift the world view in a medium called “language” which is what separates human beings from animals.

When I wrote my eBook, PINk and Grow RICH, I was sharing the idea that ” RICH means different things to different people. Most successful people did not start with the motive to get rich. They were more interested in helping others”. And then it was a matter of time when I saw the power of sharing ideas through social media. I found an aspect of “creativity” and “community” that I did not know.

Creativity

This was brought forth for me by Roger C Parker, who shared his review on his popular blog leveraging social media to do so . His review focused on sharing ideas on content, design and picking a title – ideas exchange for those writing or considering to write an eBook.

Read below his post on content and design

Content & design tips for e-book success

Read below his post on choosing a title for your book

Choose a memorable book title before you begin to write your book

Community

This became visible with post from William Reed and an interview with Rajesh Setty. They became part of the community that helps you spread the ideas using social media.

Read below article by William Reed
Lessons in Leadership from Deepika

Read below interview with Raj Setty
Pink and Grow Rich; Interview with Deepika Bajaj

And their respective communities “Tweeted” and shared it with their communities. And I became part of a bigger community – a larger community powered by social media.

So, as a gift this holiday season, I am taking 40% off the price on my ebook (regularly priced at $9.95, now $5.99).

We all have people who give us material gifts, this season give an idea as a gift and become part of the larger community of folks who share your interests. Make this Holiday count for someone, who is not stepping up to his maximum potential Or someone who feels robbed of his dreams Or someone who thinks if he had more money, he would be happy….Get your copy now and gift it to as many people…and become an agent to spread the ideas.

DD-new-pic-headshot Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC and co-founder, ActiveGarage (the company behind 99tribes). Deepika is also the author of the book DiversityTweet: Embracing the growing diversity in our world and Pink and Grow Rich:11 Unreasonable Rules for Success You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle
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When you begin to write your book, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’ve already made significant progress….especially, if you’ve been active in your field for a long time.

Because you may have already written a lot of your book, the first writing step you should take is to take a fresh look at your hard drive, looking for content just begging to be included in your book!

Existing content takes many forms

To help you locate contents you already wrote, I’ve added a copy of my Existing Content Inventory Worksheet to my Active Garage Resource Page which you can download without registration.

My Existing Content Inventory Worksheet will help you keep track of content like case studies, examples, ideas, opinions, perspectives, procedures, resources, shortcuts, tips, and warnings.

Where to look for ready-to-use content

Look for existing content you can reuse for your book in files originally created for projects like:

  • Articles & newsletters
  • Blog posts & comments
  • Books, e-books, & previous book proposals
  • E-mail
  • Memos & reports
  • New business proposals
  • Presentations & speeches
  • Press releases
  • Teleseminars, webinars
  • White papers

As you review your previous client, prospect, and writing files, you may be surprised at the content richness waiting for you.

During your exploration, you might want to search your hard drive for key phrases and words that might take you directly to the content you’re looking for.

What to do after locating existing content

Once you consolidate the titles, relevance, and locations of existing content onto copies of the Existing Content Inventory Worksheet, you can address questions like:

  • What type of content is it? Is the content an idea, a process or a technique, a case study, an interesting anecdote, or a tip?
  • Where does the content belong in my book? Which chapter?
  • How much of the content is useful? Where will it appear within the chapter? Will the content be used as part of the text of your book, or is it more appropriate as a sidebar interview or tip?
  • How literally can I reuse the content? Can I simply copy and paste the content, (assuming you have copyright ownership of the content)? Or, do I need to paraphrase the content? Do I need to expand the content? Do I need to verify the accuracy of the content?
  • Do I need permissions for quotations? You may not need to obtain permission, for example, if the quote appeared in a published magazine or newspaper article. You might have to get permission, however, if you quoting an individual’s comments in a recorded teleseminar interview you hosted.

In many cases, of course, you may have originally written the content in long-forgotten articles, blog posts, or newsletters.

Of course, if you already knew, or suspected, that you were going to be write your current book, you’d- -hopefully- -have tracked the content using a mind map like the one I prepared for this blog post series (among other free resources).

Conclusion

Writing a book doesn’t have to mean a time-consuming endeavor requiring you to write every word from scratch! If you’ve been active in your field for a long time, you may have already written a lot of your book! Even better, if you used tools like mind mapping to organize your content and track your writing, you may be pleasantly surprised to find how much of your book has already been written.

Roger C. Parker helps business professionals write brand-building, thought-leadership books. He’s written over 30 books, offers writing tools at Published&Profitable, and posts writing tips each weekday. His next book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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