The Window of Opportunity

Recent books I've designed

Books are magic. I’ve discussed that in some detail here. I use the word ‘magic’ in it’s right use, I believe, meaning ‘something that has an extraordinary effect whose mechanism we don’t understand’.

That’s how it is with books. If someone is an author, we think of them as the authority on the subject. We think of them as something special. We will pay more for their advice.

The reason we respect authors and their books is because we know deep down that it’s an amazing thing to get published. Aside from the actual writing, you have to be picked up by a ‘publisher’ who, in recognising your talent and greatness, verifies and validates your work. A published book has been approved by several experts who know a good book when they see it. A published book has gone through a process of peer review. Only the very best get published. A published book is a proper book. An unpublished book is like an unsigned rock band: if they were any good they’d have got a deal.

But there’s a problem. Now, almost, anyone can get a book out. It requires a little bit of skill and knowledge, but not much. Anyone can get a book ‘published’. All that requires is the tiny bit of know-how. It’s shockingly easy.

So what does that do to the magic of books? What does that do to our admiration for the published author? Does it mean that there’s a window of opportunity that having a published book still counts as cool, but in a short while when more people realise how easy it is, that glory will be undermined. So you’ve got a book out? So what?

We call it democratization. A leveling of the playing field. Now, more people can get into the previously invite-only members club of publishing. So what will happen next? Will the magic be undone?

Let’s have a look at previous democratisations for the answer. Here are a few:

Photography was the domain of the professional expert from its invention in the late 1800s until around the 1950s. Then it entered the domain of the committed hobbyist who had the cash to invest in it. Then cheap instamatic cameras and Polaroids in the 1970s opened it up to everyman. Now, ridiculously cheap digital cameras in recent years has made everyone a photographer. But there’s still a place for the photographic expert…

Filmmaking follows the same pattern. You needed serious cash to make films, even on consumer Super8 cinefilm up until the 1980s. Then VHS cameras, MiniDisc, digital tapes and then hard drives made everyone a filmmaker. But television programmes and movies are still made by committed professionals.

Graphic Design was one solely the domain of the draughtstman, illustrator or typographer. Their tools were indian ink, marker pens and lead. Desktop publishing became a reality only in the early 1990s when the tools changed to computers and software. The PC became cheaper. Ready made clip art appeared. Everyone can now be a graphic designer. But if having affordable professional tools was the answer, every Church magazine in the land would look like a quality periodical like those on the shelves in WH Smiths. Every PowerPoint presentation would inspire and compliment a speech perfectly. Every poster or flyer produced would be worthy of being framed and have prints sold in those poster shops. But clearly they aren’t.

Just as with photography, filmmaking and graphic design, having the right tools and the right methods does not create greatness in itself. You still have to create a quality piece. Quality work is produced by dedication, persistence, practice, research, willingness to learn, experience and perhaps a few other factors.

It’s likely that the world will become awash with new books written by new authors. But the magic will remain, but change form. Democratisation means everyone can do it, but it also means that we can’t and won’t rely on third party endorsement alone. The democratisation of publishing means we now have the power as writers to publish and as readers to judge for ourselves what is worth reading. The external filter has gone so we have to filter for ourselves.

More television channels gave us more telly. But it didn’t give us more good telly. Self publishing will give us more books to choose from, but not necessarily many more good books.

This is why, more than ever we have to focus on quality. Our books must be brilliant. They must look brilliant. Just being ‘published’ will soon not be enough…

Don’t just do a book – make it a good book.

This article came out of a conversation I had with Howard from www.oxfordcomputerservice.co.uk.

Learn more about writing and publishing your book:
www.thekudoseffect.com

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book: www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
www.aydinstone.com

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So you want to write a book – but what’s it about?

Me Myself and I bookSome years ago I spoke to someone who’d been to a motivational seminar. The result of it was that it had inspired her to write a book. That’s great news I thought, a real tangible action that she could follow through.

The next question was of course, “what’s the book about?” She said, “It’s called Me, Myself and I – the story of my life”.

Now I don’t want to sound too dismissive. I didn’t know her that well either. But what I did know was that she was more or less like most of us. Fairly straightforwardly normal. Nothing particularly remarkable had happened to her that hasn’t also happened to me and you.

At this point I think we’d all agree that this was a pretty poor idea for a book. If she was writing this autobiography for her own and her families enjoyment then that’s a good thing. We should all do that in some form, to record and pass on our stories and experiences to the next generation or simply to reminisce. But who else is even remotely interested? Let’s face the facts: no-one.

By the end of this article I’m going to change my mind about that. Let’s see if you do too.

Since then I’ve met a load of other people who’ve been to motivational seminars and have come out with the ‘big idea’ to write a book about their average mediocre lives.

I’ve also met a lot of people who’ve had some wonderful or tragic experiences. On the face of it, these heroes appear to have it easy, they can tell the story of their triumph over adversity, good fortune or hard work. The story is right there for the telling. But they have a little problem in that when that big story is told, there is nothing else to tell. They have become that story. There’s nothing more to give.

And that’s why us ordinary folk have a subtle advantage. But we have to work hard to get a grip on it.

If you’ve ever read any biography of a famous person or seen an in-depth interview (like the ones Michael Parkinson used to do, not the product placement ones we get nowadays) you may have noticed how they work. The story of their life doesn’t necessarily start at the beginning. It is framed up with the main thing that they are famous for. Every part of the biographical detail from then on, every story that follows, adds insight which builds the picture of the famous person and the fame they were born to have. If it’s an actor, they’ll recount the first time they ever acted (probably a game they played as a child). If it’s a comedian, they’ll recount the first laugh they got from their mates or from the school bully to avoid being punched. They miss out most of the missed opportunities and other adventures that aren’t central to the main driving story of their life’s purpose. They don’t recount their holidays or what they got for Christmas unless it’s central to the main thrust. Often they don’t mention their children, who may be in reality the most important people in their lives. If they don’t play a main role in the big story, they don’t get a look in.

It’s the secret method hidden in every kind of storytelling. You only mention things that are relevant. To add drama you may not reveal their relevance straight away and when the reader realises the truth later on, they experience that wonderful payback as they form the thread of the meaning of the story in their own minds as they read. The same is true for films, for sitcoms, for plays, for everything. In fact, it’s a good way of seeing if a story is based unchanged on a real story or not as real-life accounts are full of extraneous detail that have no bearing on the plot.

The point here is that famous people have a fulcrum to their life story, a pivot or purpose that vignettes are chosen to add colour and detail to the driving plot of their lives.

So what has this got to do with us?

Imagine if you were to write your biography now. Imagine writing it with no major destination, it’s just the story of your life, the story of ‘Me, Myself and I’. You’d have school stories, teenage adventures, college or work anecdotes, family crisis, family fun. There’d be no shortage of material, but without a focus, all those stories would be of little interest to anyone who didn’t know you as there would be no correlation between them other than they all happened to you. The reader would be desperate to link it all but without your help they’d get distracted and bored and would stop reading.

Now imagine picking a point to your life. Let’s start with an easy one. Imagine the point of your life was to have your children, or to do the job you do now, or to have the lifestyle you have now or the particular hobby or interest that you’re so good at. If you wrote your biography only including the stories and anecdotes that relate to that point you’ll have a totally different book to the sprawling, meaningless all encompassing one. If you chose another, a different point, you’d have a different set of stories to include.

This is why I said we’re better off than those who have one big story that’s so big it dominates everything else in their lives. These heroes struggle to tell another story of their lives without the big one getting in the way. For most of us there are dozens if not hundred of stories to tell, all of which have may a strong point. If effect we could write a dozen autobiographies of ourselves, each one different to the last.

The challenge is now to choose which of the possible life purposes are we going to choose for our first book. Notice I say ‘first’ book. They say everyone has one book in them. It’s not true, everyone has dozens of books in them. We just need to decide to begin. It’s actually easier to choose than you may think. You simply chose the purpose to your life that you have the most or best stories to tell. You choose ‘the point’ that the book will make that is the most interesting or compelling that a certain type of audience will want to hear.

If you take this approach, what you’ve really done is the opposite of what most new authors do. You’ve picked a purpose that is powerful, personal and relevant to others, that you have a cache of real personal stories to add human interest which grips and entertains the reader. You then add in relevant research, facts and data about the topic to educate the reader. What you’ve done is given the reader a useful, valuable experience that is unique. It’s your personal take on the topic. It’s that unique personal take which is the magnet that attracts the reader to the content. A personal story with no point is irrelevant and content without a personal take is a textbook which is boring.

So here’s your task. Writing your autobiography is actually a good thing! Why? because by plotting out your journeys, stories and anecdotes, randomly at first, you’ll start to see patterns emerging. By writing ‘Me Myself and I’ you’ll build up a body of work that will become your resource bank of material for your entire writing career.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:
www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.sunmakers.co.uk
www.aydinstone.com

What sort of author are you?

There are certain types of authors that I’ve found and worked with. Each has advantages and disadvantages that need to be understood if a book project is to be successful. A book is like a rocket: it needs an awful lot of energy to take off and get going. It needs a constant supply of energy to overcome gravity and keep going, but once it’s in orbit it will move all on its own. Here is a list of the types I’ve found:

The Creator/Collectors: these people love creating stuff. They love having stuff in their hands. You’ll probably find their homes and offices full of books. And not just the obvious ones. They probably quite like nice looking, luxurious hardbacks. Those beautiful ‘coffee table’ books. They probably haven’t read many of them, but love having them.

Advantages: Have a strong desire to hold their book in their hands and see it on the shelf.

Disadvantages: May put form over function and create a beautiful product that doesn’t do anything

The Self-Help Junkie: these people will devour every theory that comes along. E Myth? NLP? 7 habits? Robbins? Rich Dad? Who Moved My Cheese? They have not only read them all, they can quote you passages from them.

Advantages: They know how books work.

Disadvantages: Could unconsciously regurgitate old messages or be far too aware of them all and be paralysed, unable to come up with something original.

The Consultant: They know their stuff. Possibly have their own unique material or way of doing things after years in practice. Tend to be practical. Like things to happen quickly. Often overlook or have little experience in marketing.

Advantages: They have a wealth of material and can explain it well.

Disadvantages: See writing as a chore. Tend to turn their exciting material into dull tips sheets, excluding their personality.

Give Sunmakers a call to help identify what are your own strengths and weakness and will help overcome objections and problems you have with your book idea with tactics and strategies. It will give ideas to help formulate a worthwhile purpose, agenda and business plan for you book. It will give ideas to help create an interesting metaphor to give the book that wow factor and will inspire and motivate you to begin, to keep going and to finish as well as giving information on how to publish, produce, promote and proliferate your finished book.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:
www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.sunmakers.co.uk
www.aydinstone.com


How to write a business book – the secret formula

Just to make it easy for you, here is the formula for writing your business book. It really is this simple. Follow this formula and you’ve done it.

how to write a book

Where:

b = book

T = your Topic

F = Key facts or Frequently asked questions or tips

Ci = Internal case studies – i.e. your own

Ce = External case studies – i.e. recognised, famous examples

The transform is then integrated with:

p = Your personal take and human story

m = A strong driving metaphor

T: First decide on your topic. It needs to be something you know something about, have an interesting opinion on, or something you can fairly easily collate research on. Preferably it should be something you’re interested in.

F: Decide on a set number of data to include as the key facts. These could be a set of tips, how to’s or frequently asked questions.

Ci: Collect a few first hand case studies to illustrate some of the key facts.

Ce: Back up the rest of the key facts with third party anecdotes of famous people or companies, incorporating something that the reader will recognise, or use a non-famous but powerful story that you found in your research that makes one or more of the points really clear.

p: Tell the part of your own biography that relates to the Topic, T. This should initially state your immense expertise with regards to the Topic and then incorporate your starting point of ignorance or your greatest failure or fall from grace and your slow climb to enlightenment or your epiphany moment. The sub formula for a successful p is:

p = pE + pS + pT

Where pE is the personal end point of expertise, where you are now and your authority to write the book.

pS is your starting point. This could be how you struggled without the Topic or how your early life pointed the way to the topic. Also included should be your early attempts at success and admissions of failure. This allows the reader to believe you are human and like you, they too can improve with regards to the Topic if they follow your story and advice.

pT is your turning point or points when you realised the truth of the Topic and how you incorporated its lessons for success within its remit.

m: This is in many ways the most important and most overlooked part. This driving metaphor will give the book its title and its cover image. It needs to show that the message of the book, which the audience don’t know yet, is like something else that the audience do know about. It is the ‘high concept’ that sums up the style and direction of the book by almost giving away the main thrust of the book. The metaphor can be a single word, backed up with a strapline. It can be a stylised design, the look and typography of the book. It could be catch phrase or statement. A good metaphor sometimes comes first, but more often it comes out of the research and writing you do. It’s not something that can be forced and may even change as the book is being written.

Of course this isn’t the only way to write your book, there is another.

Call us today on +44(0)1865 779944 to discuss how we can turn your expertise into a brand or create a book with selling power.

Turn your Blog into a book:
www.blogtobook.co.uk 

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.sunmakers.co.uk
www.aydinstone.com



Why brochures are dead

Brochures (stapled together marketing material) will soon be consigned as an anachronism to the dustbin of history.


Why? Because they are costly and ineffective, that’s why.


Should you spend your money on something that no-one reads, that has become so devalued that people get angry if they receive it (and call it spam), that goes straight into the paper recycle bin thus wasting time and material resources AND that cost a moderate sum to produce? The answer is yes, only if you’re an idiot who doesn’t want to be in business for very much longer.


But you do still need to have something that you thought the brochure was going to do. Something that:


– Makes you look like you know what you’re talking about

– Is professionally designed, branded and unique

– Lays out your stall and clearly shows what you offer


I’m here to tell you that you still need all that (and more) but you won’t get it from a brochure, you’ll get it from a book. Your book. Your very own book.


In addition to the above, a good book will:


– Position you as THE authority and expert the reader should be dealing with

– Create kudos and brand recognition

– Create good will towards you. More people will like you. (And people buy from people they like)

– Have longevity and value. People don’t throw books away

– Be transferable. Who ever recommends a brochure? But they’ll recommend your book

– Make you money, directly and indirectly


A book has value. It contains stories and meaning for the reader in a way that a brochure that just mouths off about how good you are can never do. It’s more truthful. It gives something to the reader, something useful. Instead of you just shouting about yourself, you’re effectively talking to them, about them, about what they want to hear.


As a free give-away to prospects or as a product sold in bookshops and online stores, a great book written by you will do all these things and more.


And the cost?

It’s actually costs less to produce a book than a brochure. Not only that, but if you sell the books, your new ‘brochure’ will actually make you an extra income all of its own.