FROM AUTHOR TO authority
You should write a book
A personal message from Steven Sonsino (5 minute read)
Should you write a book? To be fair, you’ve been thinking about this off and on for some time. It’s on your bucket list.
You’ve got something to say, after all. A message to pass on, a lifetime of experience to share. Family, friends, clients have even been telling you ‘you should write a book’.
But there’s no point writing a great book unless people get to hear about it, right?
So – please – take advantage of what we’ve got to share here on writing your book efficiently and effectively.
Heck, maybe you can even get paid well for sharing your message. (And you can. But not how you might think. We’ll show you how.)
Why should you write a book?
Let’s back up for a moment, though. Why should you even write a book?
For the satisfaction? Well, yes, it is satisfying to hold your book in your hand, you feel a huge sense of achievement.
But are there any even more compelling reasons?
Let’s put the reason why you might want to write a book to one side for a moment. It may prove an irrelevant question.
Because if you want to win the hearts and minds of your community with a message that matters, you’re going to have to evolve as a communicator, no question.
This is true whether you’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a consultant, a coach, a speaker or anyone with a message that matters.
And unless you do, you risk becoming irrelevant, invisible and perhaps even insolvent.
Why? The answer is simple. Because we’re living in the Attention Age.
And in the scramble for the scarce and decreasing attention of your community, standard marketing practice and business-as-usual outreach processes just won’t attract the same kind of visibility they once did.
Let’s take one small but important example.
How to win clients in the Attention Age
One of the big things entrepreneurs and executives need to do (the biggest?) is win new clients. That’s true for all of us, isn’t it?
Well, we typically do that by reaching out – on the telephone or face-to-face, through press coverage or writing articles, by social media or by advertising. That’s a huge number of interruptions for any potential client.
And Seth Godin – the godfather of permission marketing – had this to say about interruption marketing in Fast Company more than 20 years ago:
Godin is clear: no one is paying attention to your business, your ideas or you.
It’s not just marketing that’s a challenge. Anyone who’s trying to share a message is struggling against a tsunami of alerts, notifications, chat – in your pocket, in your purse, in your hand.
The flood won’t let up
And if your gut tells you the flood won’t let up for the rest of the 2020s, you’re probably right.
Pay attention to data nerd Mary Meeker, who has evolved into one of the world’s most listened-to economists with her annual report on internet trends.
The last two years alone? Mindbending. (Seriously.) Check out the full report, it repays careful study. Meeker’s inevitable conclusion: even if you have a message that matters, you are going to be seriously struggling for attention in the coming decade.
How do you solve this conundrum? How do you win attention when attention is what no one has? Even if you have a message that matters?
Winning hearts and minds in the Attention Economy
Scroll back almost 25 years. Two researchers at Andersen Consulting, Thomas Davenport and John Beck, write a pragmatic Harvard Business Press book, The Attention Economy.
Of course, the book’s examples are prehistoric. (Lycos anyone? Alta Vista?) But Davenport and Beck really have something here.
And they offer two opposing strategies for managers and leaders who want to grab the attention of their communities: engage or ignore.
First, what does engage mean?
‘To engage wholeheartedly in the use of attention-getting technology [is] a state-of-the-art, sheets to the wind, no holds barred effort to manipulate electrons in the service of attention management,’ say Davenport and Beck.
And what does ‘engage’ look like in the decade ahead?
Well, if you want to scrabble for the attention of your community, you’re going to be forced to create ‘killer’ new strategies, like intent-based branding from ageing surfer dude and internet entrepreneur Frank Kern (livestreaming on multiple platforms simultaneously).
Or the content marketing model from Vaynermedia’s Gary Vaynerchuk (breaking an hour’s keynote into 30+ soundbites, videos and Instagram memes).
The challenge, therefore, if you want to engage with the Attention Economy, is to embrace ALL the attention-grabbing technologies simultaneously.
Next, you’ve got to GET to the leading edge and STAY there. You’ve got to become an expert and thought leader in online communication technology AS WELL AS your own discipline. (Or hire a team to do it for you.)
And, by the way, the thing with this strategy, if you’re successful, is that the rest of the world’s marketers will copy you in a heartbeat.
Engage or ignore?
Should you ignore the trend then? Put a sandwich board on and stand in front of the offices or homes of your community?
Probably not. But there is something to be said, Davenport and Beck suggest, for ignoring the masses and going the opposite way.
In other words, when everybody zigs, you zag
Have you ever read the book Zag? If you haven’t, you should. It’s short, punchy and extremely thought-provoking.
In fact, Zag is one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time, according to Todd Sattersten, former President of 800-CEO-READ. (More from him later.)
Zag’s author is Marty Neumeier and I interviewed him for one of our ebooks because he’s brilliant at making complex ideas sing.
For instance, the act of standing out from the competition isn’t front-page news, says Neumeier.
What IS front-page news – in a world with Attention Deficit Disorder – is that you need more than just differentiation. You need RADICAL differentiation.
‘The new rule?’ he tells us: ‘When everybody zigs, zag.’ We love that. Because it tells you that in your business or profession you have only two strategic choices:
1. Copy what everyone else is doing. (Faster, better, or cheaper.)
2. Or do something radically different. (Something truly distinctive, outstanding. Something with exponential, not marginal, results.)
So if your competitors are all pumping out shallow internet memes in an attempt to go viral, zagging means you should answer your best clients’ biggest problem in a rich, deeply thought-out way. In other words, you should write a book.
One more time: you should write a book
Above all, though, when you begin to seriously consider writing your book, you’ve got to relentlessly ask yourself what is it for? Why are you writing?
In other words, is your book an end in itself, or is it a means to an end?
If your book has a clear purpose, it’s a means to an end. And it becomes a domino in a chain reaction.
What this means is that if you write a great book, it will grow your profile, your practice or your business… one reader at a time.
Most other ‘communication’ in this Attention Age is fundamentally flawed. In fact, it isn’t really communication at all. It’s a broadcast. A one-way sales message shoved down the throat of your community. This is one-sided and transactional at best. At worst, you may never build a true relationship with your community.
Books earn attention and trust
Influence, on the other hand, is based more on a long-term dialogue.
You earn the attention and then the trust of your reader. Then they (may) form a new opinion, depending on how your book shapes their worldview.
And because that influence has been earned with a book, over hours and days – versus just a few minutes with a blog post or article – your book’s influence can have a very long half-life. You will create engaged readers who become ambassadors for your cause.
On this final point, I believe that creating ambassadors is an automatic and earned response. When we delight the people we serve. When we turn our readers into fans. And our fans into what Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine, memorably calls True Fans.
So if you want to make a difference and an impact for people, if you want to attract people towards you, instead of constantly pushing or selling to your community, and if you want to raise the profile of your business (and yourself), in your region or profession, there’s only one thing to do to get discovered. You should write a book.
You want to build and engage with your community
So if you’re an author who wants to build and engage with your community, you’re in the right place.
Welcome. We’ve been waiting for you.
Because my wife Jacqueline Moore and I help people create books that matter. Not necessarily books that strive to be bestsellers, but books that are intentionally niche.
Niche doesn’t mean insignificant or ‘low profit’ — it simply means becoming invaluable to a small group of true fans.
As authors, this is what we care about.
The smallest niche audience.
Of people who care.
People who will join us on the journey and take their books seriously.
Who care about a human-to-human connection, even in their book.
We are authors who serve authors like you
Jacqueline and I have been earning an independent living from writing books since 1986, and we’ve been helping a few authors like you do the same since 2015.
We believe that staying small, focused, and relevant to the business community is the key to serving and mattering in a world of noise and distractions.
OUR MISSION: We serve business authors who serve others. We help authors bridge the gap between creating deep, meaningful work they’re proud of and work that helps the people they seek to serve dramatically.
If you have the desire to be an author (either full-time or as a support for your main business), we think you’ll love what we have for you.
In effect, we help authors like you become modern marketers. Not beholden to the latest twist in internet tactics. We help you become an important authority to the people you seek to serve in ways that feel right for you.
If this resonates with you, welcome home.
We’re so glad you stopped by. It means the world to us.
When you’re ready, start with our Reinventing Authority series. (You’ll be glad you did…)
Let us show you what writing a great book, by people who care, looks like in action.
Jacqueline Moore and Steven Sonsino
Aspiring book authors, I highly recommend the Authors Channel podcast!Karen Dillon, former editor, harvard business review
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