Why You Shouldn’t Write A Book
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should…
It’s never been easier to write and publish a book. No longer do we have to depend on publishers’ whims for new and fantastic ideas and stories. No longer do we have to wait for someone in an ivory tower to decide if a book is fit for our eyes. No longer does the fate of a book rest on the publishing company’s financial goals.
The floodgates opened a few years ago, and we’re now reading brilliant books that would never have made it past the traditional book industry. And that’s a peachy state of affairs.
But on the other hand: it’s never been easier to write and publish a book. Which means it’s never been easier to write and publish a terrible book. I mean, there have always been terrible books. Publishers don’t get it right all the time. It’s just that now you can publish an awful book at the click of a mouse, without some pesky editor, agent, or publisher telling you your baby isn’t good enough.
The deluge of crappy content has been poised to drown the internet for years — and since the rise of self-publishing, crap has threatened to inundate the world of books, too. I don’t want that to happen, because books are my life.
I read my first book when I was three, nearly four years old. I remember it. It had big colourful pictures and chunky letters, and it was about animals. I remember being frustrated when I went to school and my teachers tried to hold me back with Peter and Jane when I was reading Enid Blyton at home.
Almost everything I’m interested in, understand, can do, and am good at started with a story or an idea from a book.
If I want to learn about something new now, I’ll Google it. I’ll find articles. But ultimately, you’ll find me buried in a book because that’s where profound knowledge and wisdom resides.
There’s something about books: they’re traditional repositories of knowledge. They marked the end of guesswork and Chinese whispers, as we passed down skills and wisdom through the oral tradition. When we could write things down and share them widely, we made knowledge available to everyone who could read or listen to someone else read.
We trust books.
This Is Not A Short-Cut
The idea that just anyone should write a book for their business, just for the sake of it, doesn’t sit well with me. The idea that someone would write and publish a book just to tick a marketing box or steal a modicum of authority or take a short-cut to success twists my guts and makes me queasy.
It undermines everything books stand for. It cheapens them and weakens them and lowers the standards — and that’s bad for all of us.
I’ve seen “gurus” mushroom up from the depths of internet marketing, selling business owners a “book in a box” or a template to “write a book in a weekend” or a “glorified business card” — and I am not down with that. Not at all.
This isn’t about making a fast buck, and it’s not about grabbing a little fakespertise to shore up a struggling business.
There’s only one good reason to write a book, and it’s none of these…
Why Do You Want To Write A Book?
If you’re thinking of writing a book because it’s the next thing on your marketing list, don’t. A book isn’t a tick-box exercise, shoehorned in by an internet marketing bod.
Don’t do it because your competitor has written a tome and you want to keep up.
Don’t do it because a “book in a box” type person has sold you the idea for a tidy sum and promised you fame and fortune.
Don’t do it because you want to stand out, with a bigger better meatier business card.
Don’t do it because you think it’ll make you famous or because a celebrity has just released a new book (which they almost certainly didn’t write themselves, anyway).
Don’t do it because you think publishing a book will automagically bring you a steady stream of perfect clients.
Don’t do it because it’ll look good when you’re peacocking on social media, and you want to impress people.
And definitely don’t write a book because, as I’ve seen people say, it’ll “lend you an air of authority”. Do you know what that really means? It means you’ll create the illusion of expertise and knowledge.
Writing a book is not a short-cut to expertdom. It can’t magic up knowledge and experience you don’t already have, and expecting it to do so is unethical and short-sighted.
If you write and publish and use your book for the right reason — the only reason — all those benefits I’ve just listed will follow naturally. Only you won’t be creating an illusion of expertise; you’ll be the real deal.
The Only Reason To Write A Book
I’ve been helping my clients write books for years now. I work quietly behind the scenes helping them take an idea and build it into a message that’ll help hundreds if not thousands of others learn, know, understand, or do something to make their lives better.
The people I work with have something to say and a need to say it.
They don’t want a quick fix or a gimmick.
There’s only one simple reason to write your book: because you have a story or an idea you can’t not share. You have something to say that’s clawing its way out of you and demanding you immortalise it on paper. Something that drives you to write.
Not a bandwagon-jumping, quick-fix, short-cut, tick-box business card idea.
The best books, ones that enrich our lives, come from the author’s yearning to change the world in some small way. These books carry a message that speaks to the reader the writer had in mind and alters that reader for the better.
If you have an idea or a story burning a hole in your brain, write your damn book. You owe it to yourself and to the world to get it out there.
If you know sharing your ideas will help make someone’s life better, write your damn book.
And if you believe your idea is worthy of a book, if you want to add to humanity’s library of wisdom and help stop it drowning in the oncoming flood, write your damn book.
When you do, and you get your book out there to as many people as possible changing lives, all that other stuff will follow.
You’ll find your book helps your kind of clients to seek you out. It’ll codify your existing experience, skills, and knowledge — confirming your expertise and authority. It will be the culmination of your years of learning and doing, not a short-cut that lets you pretend you’re an expert.
It’ll be tough to write, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself doing it. But it’ll be worth it.
If all you want is a “book in a box”, please do something more productive for yourself and your business.
But if you have something worth saying and sharing: write your book. Start now.