We all hate textbooks so why do people write them?

textbookThere’s a place for textbooks. They belong as reference material for classrooms and courses. They don’t work in isolation. They supplement other learning materials such as lectures, seminars or workbooks.

But as far as we’re concerned as experts who write, they are irrelevant. Unless you have been commissioned by a major publisher, who has the infrastructure to get the book to market and you have been paid in advance to write it, there is absolutely no point in writing a textbook.

So why does everyone do it?

When experts begin writing their book, either to pitch unsolicited to a publisher or with a view to self publish, they begin in couple of particular ways.

Here’s the wrong way. We can call it the linear method or ‘the brain dump’.

Linear authors start by writing everything they think they possibly know about everything they know. It’s so unstructured that they try desperately to think of a start, to give them something to hang onto. Since there’s no plan, defined topic or target market in mind they have no choice but to try to start at a beginning. Such books begin with variations of “I was born at an early age in my home town” and “In the beginning…”.

This linear way of starting kills the motivation to write really quickly. The actual ‘beginning’ of any story is usually very boring. Boring to write and boring to read. It’s also out of context. The reader is given no clues at that point as to what’s going to happen. That’s why most fiction and all movies start well into the story. The action has already begun.

Good authors recognise that they’re not telling the entire story of everything, they’re just telling one story that sits within a bigger story. A James Bond film doesn’t start with him being born. It doesn’t start with him sitting in the secret service offices waiting for the phone to ring. It starts at the peak of some action.

“But I’m not writing stories! I’m not writing fiction!” I imagine I hear you cry. I doesn’t matter. The same rules apply. Any writing needs to engage the reader enough so that they don’t stop reading through boredom.

The only book that’s allowed to start at the beginning of all creation is the Bible. And even with that the writers wrote that very first bit of Genesis last.

This linear way of writing is bad for the reader but it’s worse for the writer. It will almost always create ‘writers block’ which we can define as boredom, lack of confidence and lack of inspiration. If those blocks are overcome the result is a textbook.

These textbooks start tediously at the beginning with simple introductory concepts and then get more complex and more tedious as it progresses. Then at the end when it delivers the most complex, in-depth material, it stops. Then there’s an index (which is totally useless as you can’t dip into such a book as you would have had to read everything up to that point for it to make sense.)

These boring textbooks are often written by lively, passionate, friendly, talented people. So why do they leave out all that passion and emotion when they write?

The solution to all this, to write an engaging book, perhaps one that can be dipped into and most useful of all, one that you can actually write AND finish, is to write a non-linear book or write the book in a non-linear way.

Have you ever read a textbook? Probably not. If you did it would only have been because there was a gun pointed at your head.

No-one reads textbooks. So don’t write one.

We’ll look at the alternative method in my next post.

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

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Business SOS by Paul Avins

Business SOS

Paul Avins is an Award Winning Business Coach and International Speaker. He was almost ready to go to print on his book ‘Business SOS’ which was needed for a large event. He showed me the draft but he knew there was something about it that wasn’t quite right but couldn’t put his finger on it. I could see that the content was excellent and yet the product looked less than world class. Everything Paul does has an attention to detail and a quality about it but the design of this book had those attributes missing. I said I would be able to turn it around in a week, and I did. We kept the front image of a life-ring but started again with every other aspect of the design.

Something interesting happened that would be the key to the design of the book.

I noticed that Paul asked a lot of searching questions in the text of the book. The original typography inside had been cluttered and messy and the questions were lost in the text. I put forward the idea of inserting a space, a box for the reader to write the answer to the questions in. This isn’t to say that the book became a ‘workbook’ but it had the workbook elements in there. It also didn’t mean that we were forcing people to write in the book, some people will never do that. But by creating a discrete space for the answer, it allowed the reader to pause and reflect on the question (the space gave them an idea of the required length of their answer) whether they chose to write it down or not.

This turned out to be the key to the success of the book. Business owners loved the dip-in nature of the book and the proactive way it helped them analyze areas of their business.

Within six months Paul was able to connect the success of the book to a tangible increase in his business. See the video below. A year later he would revise that figure upwards by a factor of ten as the book became the foundation stone to position his Business Networking and Coaching Group as a Franchise Business and open five other Clubs around the UK.

I was commissioned to design Paul’s Turbo coaching materials and the brand for the exciting Business Wealth Club itself. The distinctive and powerful look we came up with for the Club helped to position it as a valuable and different networking and coaching experience that hundreds of business people have now joined and are reaping the benefits. We are now working on Paul’s next book, ‘Rev Up Your Business’ and the Business Wealth Club is set to go global with Clubs about to open all over the world.

 

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

Business Wealth Club