Posts Tagged ‘writing book’

There are many ways others can help you write your book. You don’t have to write every single word that appears in your brand-building, nonfiction book! Many of the leading author brands in business and publishing involve authors who have shared their writing responsibilities with others.

There are a lot of reasons for this, and the idea of involving others in writing you book shouldn’t be viewed as a “cop out” or lessening of your responsibility to produce the best possible book.

Advantages of involving others

Although there are many advantages to working with other, the two most important are perspective and efficiency:

  • Perspective. When you involve others in writing your book, you can produce a richer, more fulfilling book. Others can bring new experiences, ideas, information, perspectives, and talents to your book. This is true whether you work with other experts in your field, or involve your market in writing your book.
  • Efficiency. Working with others, you can bring your book to market faster, giving it a head start against the competition. Working with others also gives you more time to spend marketing your book, building market anticipation and creating marketing partnerships with others in your field. Effectively marketed good books will outsell poorly marketed great books!

As the lead author, you are not abdicating your responsibilities. This will still be “your” book. You are the visionary who had the idea for the book, you set the standard, and you’re still responsible for the quality of the book.

Consider yourself the captain of a ship. The captain doesn’t do everything needed to take an ocean liner from New York City to Athens. The captain sets the goals and performance standards while delegating nearly every other task to others; running the engines, keeping in touch with the home office, maintaining crew discipline, running the engines, navigating, cooking, and serving drinks.

Your book will be as strong, or as weak, as the leadership you provide and the mentoring you offer to others involved in your book.

With others involved, you’ll still get the majority of the credit, but your book may be a better one (in terms of perspective) or one that appears sooner backed-up with better pre-publication marketing and visibility.

Options and alternatives

There is no “one way” to write a book with others. Your job is to identify and fine-tune a process that works for you, one that can be replicated over and over again as you expand your book title into a series of successful follow-up titles. Here are the basic choices:

  • Co-authors. Like marriages, co-author situations can be really great, or they can turn into a nightmare. The range of possible co-author relationships is great, ranging from full partnership to work for hire situations. When you research co-authored books, watch for clues in the way the authors’ names on the book cover: “and” implies a partnership, or near partnership. But, when you see “with,” the name that follows is typically a “follower” or a “work for hire” craftsman.
  • Ghostwriters. The names of ghostwriters generally don’t appear on the book cover, although they often appears in the author’s Acknowledgments. Ghost writers perform their magic through a process that involves interviewing the lead author, independent research, and a back-and-forth review cycle.
  • Assistants. Many authors involve freelancers to save the author time by researching details and summarizing results, providing the author with information to weave into the narrative of the book.
  • Crowdsourcing. Many books are based on a strong premise, backed-up by anecdotes, case studies, and interviews with either other experts in the field, or by customers, clients, and end-users. An excellent example of this is Books like Mitchell Levy’s 42 Rules for Driving Success with Books, based on case studies and stories submitted by authors who have profited from writing a book.

Making the right choice

The right choice involves identifying your goals, choosing the right option, and then structuring the relationship in a way that reduces opportunities for problems down the road.

  1. Identify your goals. Know what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a “hand off” situation where you will have little involvement with the writing of the book, beyond setting the goals and creating a table of contents, or are you looking for assistance on specific chapters? How visible do you want the relationship to be, i.e., are you looking for a “with” or an “and” situation?
  2. Choose the right option. If you’re looking at possible co-authors, focus on compatibility and the long-term. Several interesting perspectives emerged in a Published & Profitable interview with Bob Bly and David Meerman Scott. One of the points Bob mentioned was that “marriages of equals” often didn’t work as well structuring a clear “who’s the leader and who’s the follower” hierarchy. Both recommended looking for co-authors with established author platforms and reader followings to jump start your book’s sales.
  3. Structuring the relationship. Handshakes are not enough. Although it’s impossible to anticipate every eventuality, your co-authorship agreement must address rights and responsibilities. For example, if you’re considering working with a co-author, what happens after your book appears? Who has primary marketing responsibilities? Who pays for the website? Whom will the media interview? Who has first rights to speaking and consulting engagements? Who can prepare spin-off products, like e-courses, “train the trainer” programs, and videos? What rights do ghost-writers and researchers have to their research after your book appears?

The big takeaway

The big idea from this post is simply to explore all options. Find others who might be able to help you write your book. Explore your writing options. with an open mind and the recognition that the authors whom you respect the most and turn to for inspiration often were working in a group situation. There’s often a team behind a book, often a team in place well before editors and proofreaders get involved!

Roger C. Parker invites you to visit a special resource page for Author Journey readers. You’ll find growing list of special writing resources, including several mind mapping samples. You can also explore Published & Profitable’s Samle Content,  and sign-up for his Daily Writing Tips blog. His next book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles

Mention “book” to most people, and they immediately recall their endless lists of “required reading” in high school and college. Textbooks and required reading tend to be long, especially the classics.

Little wonder that most people don’t think they’re capable of writing a book, and even fewer think that they have time to write a book!

I’d like to counter the Moby Dick and Crime & Punishment mentality by recommending that you take a fresh look at the advantages of shorter and smaller books, i.e., books ranging in length from 140 to 160 pages.

The age of shorter & smaller books

As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve recently visited the Business books section at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders, books are getting both shorter and smaller. This is the age of the smaller, shorter book. Shorter, smaller books are “in” for several reasons:

  • ŸLower cost – In a time of economic ambiguity, smaller, shorter books are more affordable for everyone involved. A smaller, shorter book represents less of a financial risk for publishers. At the same time, smaller, shorter formats can be sold for less, meaning the books will be affordable to a more cost-conscious buying public.
  • ŸLess time – We are living in a time-starved environment. Time has never been as much at a premium as it is now. Your readers, especially your business readers, are interested in books that can be comfortably read in an airport waiting room or while flying. Readers don’t have time for theory; they are looking for short books with short chapters and practical, immediately actionable ideas. “Background information” isn’t as valuable as usable advice.

Evidence of the trend towards shorter, smaller books are on every business book shelf. Notice the shrinking size of Jim Collin’s books; [1] compare his latest How the Mighty Fall with his original Good to Great. Compare Bob Burg’s early Endless Referrrals[2] (288 pages, 6 by 9 inches) with his latest The Go-Giver[3] (144 pages, approximately 5 by 8), co-authored with John David Mann.


The implications of this societal need for economy of cost and economy of expression is a renewed emphasis upon the delivery of focused, actionable information. With few exceptions, the “textbook” era is over. Readers have problems they want to solve, and they want to get the necessary information- -and just the necessary information– – as quickly as possible.

Today’s books, as a glance at the many titles available in the Laura Lowell’s 42 Rules[4] series, for example, emphasize practicality and utility. The trend is not to “tell all,” but to tell just what’s needed.

By viewing complex problems and tasks from the point of view of a series of simple, step-by-step tasks, makes it considerably easier to write a brand building book. Authors with brands to build and information to share can easily take advantage of this emphasis on economy of expression by spending more time planning than writing.

Once an author identifies the steps their readers need to take to solve their problem or achieve their goal, fewer words are needed to complete the book.

Twitter’s role

Twitter has played an important role in the encouraging economy of expression. Twitter has taught us all how to condense and express big thoughts in 140-characters, or less. There’s more respect for brevity now, than ever before.

Entire books, and series of books, are being written in the Twitter format, such as Rajesh Setty’s pioneering Upbeat: Cultivating the Right Attitudes to Succeed in Tough Times[5].

In fact, I’m so impressed by the Twitter format that I choose it for my upcoming book on book titles, #BOOK TITLE Tweet!

The idea of a book

In many ways, the idea of a book is more important than its manifestation as a finished book. The goal of a brand-building book is to attract the attention of others who want to learn more about the problem or goal addressed in the book title.

The title is the idea, not the length of the book, or the size of the book.

Awhile back, I saw a Twitter reference to a book called 18 Rules of Community Engagement[6]. It’s subtitle was A Guide for Building Relationships and Connecting with Customers Online. Without knowing anything else, I not only ordered a copy, but contacted the author and requested an interview.

I was like your prospects! Before ordering it and contacting the author, I didn’t count the number of pages in the book, nor did I pay attention to its size. All I knew was that the title promised a practical look at a topic I wanted to know more about.

In other words, the title and promised efficiency of the “18 Rule” approach promised me a good reading experience and an opportunity to connect with someone knowledgeable in the field.

So, think smaller and think shorter!







Roger-Step1-PlanI’d like to invite you along on an author’s journey towards writing a nonfiction book. During the next 26 weeks, I’m going to share my progress towards my 39th book. I want to share with you some of the strategies and tips I’ve learned about book publishing and personal branding. I also want to share some of the changes that have taken place in publishing, as well as share the steps in the decision-making process that can save you time and help you avoid expensive mistakes.

Why do business professionals like you write books?

Certainly, it’s not the “big bucks” advances from conventional trade publishers. Celebrity 6 and 7-figure advances notwithstanding, direct income from book sales is likely not to become a significant income source for you and your family.

And, unless you self-publish, which requires you to spend money before you can earn money–you’re unlikely to profit from endless streams of recurring income from book royalties each month.

So, why do business professionals write books, if it’s not the money?

There are two ways to answer this question: the anecdotal approach and the statistical, research study approach:

  1. Post-1-MLevy-42Rules-TWO-5Anecdotal approach. The easiest and most readable way to learn why busy professionals write books is to pick up a copy of Mitchell Levy’s 42 Rules for Driving Success with Books. The 5 sections of this book provide concise, entertaining, and revealing real-world portraits of authors who have escaped the economic hell of anonymity by writing a book that positioned them as experts in their field. If you’re looking for believable role models of publishing success, this is the place to start at a very reasonable price.
  2. Post-1-RainToday_Rprt-TWO-5Research-study approach. RainToday, the research and publishing arm of the Wellesley Hills Group, has published a detailed, 2-volume, 300-page Business Book Publishing Series Report. Based on detailed interviews and surveys with published authors, these reports make a dollars and cents argument for writing and publishing a book to build your brand and attract qualified prospects.

The most telling statistic: 96% of authors reported that publishing a business book affected their practice either “Positively” or “Extremely Positively!”

So, why am I, again, beginning an author’s journey?

My last book, Design to Sell, came out in 2006, and my previous book, The Streetwise Guide to Relationship Marketing on the Internet, came out in 2000. My previous books sold over 1.6 million copies throughout the world. (My shelves are loaded with copies of my books I’ll never be able to read, i.e., Chinese, Polish, Russian, and Hebrew editions.)

My best-selling books came earlier, when it was easier to earn significant incomes from publisher’s advances and royalties on book sales. My first NY Times best-seller was Looking Good in Print: A Guide to Basic Design for Desktop Publishing, and the late 1990’s were subsidized by significant royalties from Microsoft Office for Windows 97 For Dummies, and others in the series.

Now, it’s time to write again, and there are several factors driving my decision. The relative importance of the following varies from day to day, but all of the following play a role:

  • Writing is fun. Isn’t that a crazy thing to say? Yet, it’s true. At the end of the day, there’s satisfaction to be found in whatever you’ve been able to accomplish. There’s a lot to be said for starting with nothing, and ending up with a page or two of convincing arguments that didn’t exist at the start of your writing session.
  • Repositioning my expertise. For many years, I was known as the “design guru of our generation who has taught desktop publishing excellence to hundreds of thousands,” as Ralph Wilson said. I continue to love graphic design, but at the present time, I’m more interested in teaching writing skills at Published&Profitable and writing about writing in my daily writing tips blog. The time is right for me to write a book about publishing that will attract more qualified traffic to my website and more invitations to speak.
  • Passion. I’m not only very passionate about the topic, I want to learn more about it and be able to teach it more effectively. Writing is the best way to enhance your understanding and ability to communicate it to others.
  • It’s a different world. There are some wonderful changes taking place in publishing these days. New tools are available that open up new frontier of opportunity for authors who are willing to adapt to the times. Never before have the barriers to entry been as open to entrepreneurial authors as they are now. I’m tired of writing about these changes, I want to take advantage of them myself!

I’m tired of writing about these changes, I want to take advantage of them myself!

I’m looking forward to putting today’s new writing and marketing tools to work writing and promoting a different type of book, one that only now makes sense for business professionals.

My new book also provides an opportunity for me to synthesize marketing and writing in ways that were impossible for most business professionals in 2000, and were only known to a few non-computing professionals in 2006.

I hope you’ll come along for the remaining 25 installments of this author’s journey; and, if you’re so inclined, I hope you’ll become convinced that it’s time for you, too, to begin an author’s journey.

In the second installment of this series, I’m going to address the first question you should ask yourself when writing a book: Who Do You Want to Read Your Book? The answer may surprise you.

Note: Drop me a line at and I’ll send you a PDF of the mind map I’ve created for my author’s journey plus a mind map of the contents of my next book!