Advice For Releasing Your First (nonfiction) Book
Marc Miller is writing a book and asked a bunch of us published authors for some advice. So, a bunch of us are coming up with some feedback for him. Here’s what immediately came to mind to pass along…
Writing and publishing a book in your area of expertise gives you instant credibility… people say, “She has a book, she must know what she’s talking about.” In my case, I thought I had lots of credibility already. By the time my first book about job search came out in 2008, I had been in the career services industry for about 17 years. I thought that having 17 years of experience gave instant credibility to my expertise when my bio was being shared with audiences at workshops and speaking engagements.
And, indeed, for many people, of course, that was enough. Especially since I had the perspective of a recruiter at the time. My perspective was intriguing to job seekers and career development professionals because they were interested in hearing what the insider had to say. What secrets would the recruiter reveal – what would I say that they didn’t already know about job hunting?
I had something they wanted, or they wouldn’t have come to hear me speak in the first place. But there was something about that book that shifted the energy in the room. When the book was mentioned in my bio, eyebrows raised, heads in the audience nodded and suddenly they were all a bit more alert. I attribute this reaction to a statistic I once read… that 81% of Americans say that they have the dream of writing a book. But, of course, how many actually go through with doing it?
When you write and publish a book, you somehow enter a sort of special category. I didn’t know that’s what would happen when I put my book out there. For me the book was a dream being realized. I had wanted to be a published author ever since I was a little girl. Ever since I read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and got swept into the angst of her tragedy. Yes, the diary itself was compelling, but what I found really tragic was that Anne, with her wonderful writing talent, died before she could bring the world further fruits of her natural ability.
Because of my lifelong dream of going further than Anne had been allowed to, writing the book was not so audiences would sit up and say, “Wow, you must really know what you’re talking about since you’ve written a book about it.” No, it was much more selfish than that. I wrote and published it because I wanted to say “I did it.” I wanted to show myself that I could come out of my shell (I was a shy kid and have thankfully outgrown my shyness) and courageously put something out there that wasn’t just words I’d scribbled in a notebook for only me to see.
And, well, on the unselfish side of it, I did also want to teach something to people. I did want to give them the “insider secrets” that I knew would help them. And I still do want to teach something to people… I want to teach them what I’ve learned. My motivation is reflected in these words by the 19th century journalist, Margaret Fuller: “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.”
So, if you haven’t guessed it already, here’s my number one piece of advice for anyone who’s releasing their first book… Keep in mind that audiences will think you’re “all that” when, in actuality, you’re really the same as you’ve always been. Keep your head about you. Understand that, while you have entered some sort of special category in their minds, in reality, they have knowledge that they can share too. Yours has just taken book form; theirs hasn’t… yet.
Others’ Advice For First Time Authors
Angela Loëb helps people rediscover and use their gifts so they bring who they are to what they do in life. http://about.me/angelarloeb __________________________________________________________