Dr Rie Natalenko
A study in America found that 80% of people say they either want to write a book, or have thought about writing one. I don’t know whether it’s the same in Australia, but many people I’ve spoken to think that they should, or could, write a book. I imagine that very few of these people will ever sit down and do it. And they’ll come up with lots of excuses why they can’t.
But there are lots of reasons why someone – someone like you, maybe – really should write a book.
If you are one of the great book-writers of the future, here are 10 reasons to write a book (And then 10 excuses why you can’t.)
This is the big one. If you are an author, all of a sudden you have credibility. You are the expert in your field. Somehow (in other people’s eyes,) because you have bothered to put in the hard yards and written a book, you are now more knowledgeable about your subject, more credible, than you were before. If you know your subject, teach people about it and speak about it, a book is right up there as the best possible recommendation you can have for that expertise.
A book can bring in new clients because people trust authors. So a book can be good for your business in that way. Seth Godin, the author of Survival Is Not Enough, says, “People trust things that look and feel like books,” and it’s true.
Writing a book can put you in the spotlight for a while. The more the book catches on, the bigger the spotlight and the longer you can stay in it. Writing a book can even get you onto Oprah! Okay, so it’s not statistically likely, but it’s not impossible. And you will certainly be famous in the eyes of your friends and family.
This is often thought of as reason to write a book, but in most cases, (and it’s no secret) it’s not a good reason. Very few books earn money for the writers. But I’m not saying it isn’t possible. But let’s look at this money thing from a different perspective. A book may not make money, but it is good for your business, and that could lead to money in other ways. The exposure that a book gives you can lead to speaking gigs. And a book lends credibility to you as a representative of your business – which can lead to more money in the long run.
If you write a book, you might be the centre of attention at parties and networking events. That feels good. It does. And when someone introduces you and says, “Here is x. She has just had her new book published,” it is a really good introduction, isn’t it? And it might get you some free drinks, if you are lucky, while your new friends pick your brains.
5. Other people said you should.
Okay, that’s a reason. It’s not a very good reason, but it’s a reason. If people think you have knowledge to share, maybe they are right. Business mentors often say that you should write a book. But it’s not a reason that will see you through the hard writing – you need something a bit stronger than that. If that’s the only reason you want to write a book, it’s probably not enough.
6. It will clarify your thinking.
You know when people say, if you want to learn something, teach it? Well writing a book is like that – and then some. You learn so much when you write a book. You learn what you know, and you learn what you don’t know – and then you have to research it so you do know it. It is good for your expertise to write a book.
7. Writing is cathartic.
If you have a book inside you that is struggling to get out, then the only way forward is to write that book. It’s good for the soul. And that way, you save money on psychologists.
8. Because it’s there.
I know some people who have “write a book” on their bucket list. Fine. It’s a challenge they must face and so they do. There’s nothing wrong with that! Some just have to do it, like a mountain climber, you have to climb it because it is there. So if you need to climb a book, feel free!
9. It’s a gateway.
It lets people know some of the things you know, some of the things you can do. Not all of the things you know or can do, of course! A book shows everyone what field you are in, and what you are capable of in your field. It can introduce them to your business, your talks, videos, webinars, presentations, coaching, training, branding, blogs, newsletters, website, facebook page, and your other writing. It introduces you to the world.
10. It’s a Swiss army knife in the business world.
It’s an icebreaker, a leave-behind, a good Christmas present for your friends, led-a business card, a discussion-starter, a marketing brochure, a lead-generator, way to balance the table that you are drinking at. “Here’s my new book. I think you’ll find chapter 3 really useful. No, keep it.”
Okay, so that’s ten reasons to write a book.
And now I suppose you want to hear about the excuses!
If anyone sees one of these little excuses and it curls up in a warm spot in their heart, then writing a book is probably not for you at the moment. That isn’t to say that this won’t change, but if you can hear one of these calling to you, then either kick it out into the cold and tell it you aren’t interested in an excuse at the moment, or let it in and forget about the book.
1. People don’t read books any more – at least not business books.
Is this true? Publishers don’t think so. About 11,000 business books are published every year, and the publishers wouldn’t be doing that if people weren’t buying and reading them, would they? I don’t think so, not when their living depends on getting it right.
2. Writing is a special and somewhat weird process.
Writing is like nothing else. It’s a bit like art, and it’s a bit like hitting your head against a wall, and mostly it’s hard, hard work. And it’s time consuming.
3. Research is hard.
Okay, the web makes research easier. You don’t have to go to catalogues and libraries for everything – a lot of it is on the web. But while the web makes it easier, it doesn’t make it easy. Not even close.
4. It is a personal test of stamina.
It is physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually draining. And it can also affect your family life and your social life. It’s a black hole that just sucks up your time.
5. A book exposes you to the world.
You are on show – your expertise, your skills, your personality –all out there for everyone to see. For some people, believe me, this is not a positive.
6. Writing is a skill that needs practice.
It is not true that everyone can write. Everyone can put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, but that is not writing. Writing requires practice. But there is an upside. If you do it every day, you get better.
7. It is really hard to get your book accepted by a publisher.
Really hard. Really, really hard. In fact it has never been harder. Especially if this is your first book. There is, however, the option of self-publishing. And that is not so difficult. Even self publishing is not easy, but it is easier than finding a publisher.
8. A book is there forever.
Once it is out there, it is out there. There is no taking it back. It doesn’t fade from people’s minds like a presentation that you gave, or dwindle into insignificance in the blogosphere. It is stuck out there forever. If you find out you have made a big mistake, or change your mind about something in it. Tough toenails. Nothing you can do.
9. There could be a backlash.
Are you afraid of rebuttals? Sarcastic tweets? The soul-destroying response of social media? I wouldn’t want to be Corgi – sorry, Cory – Bernardi at the moment – and if you haven’t heard what is happening with his new book, google the canine version of his name, and you will soon find out. It’s only a book, you say – but the attacks can become very personal.
10. It’s not over when it’s over.
It’s not over when you put the pen down for the last time. There’s still so much to do. You have to find a publisher, or self-publish. Then you have to distribute the book, and then there’s the publicity. Will people buy it? Will they ignore it completely? All this is now the writer’s responsibility.
So that’s it. Ten reasons to write a book and ten excuses why not to.
Can you think of any more reasons to write a book? Have you made different excuses why you can’t? Please share them below!
Some of you know that I am a ghostwriter, and have published under a pen name. I have decided to share the process, the accumulated tricks and shortcuts of many years.
Soon, I’ll be launching a step-by-step webinar on how to write a book, so if you are one of those with a book in you that needs to come out, watch out for my emails. The webinar could change your life! — literally, (if you will excuse the pun.)
Dr Rie Natalenko