July 28th, 2010 | by Beth Barany
I’m aware that not everyone likes dares. So for those of you who don’t, you can stop reading here. For the rest of you, read on! I dare you!
Are you a thought leader? A thought leader is “someone who enlivens old processes with new workable ideas.” (Thank you Wikipedia.) And Elisa Bauer says, a thought leader herself: “A thought leader is a recognized leader in one’s field… It is built on what others say about you.” (See her article, #2: Write.)
Often thought leaders think that their message is cool enough to be published in a book, but actually a book is a conversation that you have with other books in your field. So, what’s a thought leader to do?
Engage in the conversation.
What conversation, you may ask? Before your audience reads your book, they will have probably read many other books on your subject. For example, I’ve read over 50 books on writing. So when it came time for me to publish my book on book writing, I had a pretty good idea of what other books my potential readers would have read before they got to mine. In the mind of my readers, my book needs to fit into and make sense within the context of everything else they know about writing books.
How does the book you have in mind (I know you have a book in you!) fit into and make sense within the context of the other books in your field?
If you know how your message fits into the greater conversation, then you can have greater impact and visibility, and ultimately sell more books and services.
Because you are part of the conversation.
If you’re wondering if this article applies to you, the answer is, “Yes.” It applies to all experts who are or can be thought leaders, and who want to be published, whether you self-publish, mainstream publish, or independently publish.
You are cool. Your message is cool. You want your message to have an impact and change the hearts and minds of your audience and clients. So to make sure your message fits into the greater conversation, answer these questions to show the world just how cool you and your message are.
1. What successful books are already in the marketplace like yours?
By successful I mean, selling a lot, and getting a lot of attention. How are these books similar to what you want to create? These are your companion books. For those of you who have already done a book proposal, yes, this is one of the questions in there. For those of you who haven’t done one, I recommend you create one, regardless of the publishing channel.
2. What successful books are already in the marketplace that are similar but lack something that your book would address?
These are your competitive books. An editor and a savvy reader REALLY want to know why they should bother investing time (for the reader) and money (for the editor and publisher) in your book. Answer that concern satisfactorily, and you can win the prize of being published!
3. What conversation are you a part of?
Bad grammar aside (I can get away with it; so can you), this question is asking about your genre. Know your field. You’re either writing fiction or nonfiction. And within those two branches of books, each have subcategories. Know what your subcategory is. Nothing irks a literary agent or editor more for an author to write in their pitch, “I write fiction.” And stop there. So know the nuances of your genre and subgenre. In fiction, we have such genres as mystery, romance, horror, fantasy, science fiction, picture book, chap book (for children), and on and on. In nonfiction, we have business, self-help, memoir, writing reference, sports, cooking, psychology, etc.
Not only do you need to know where your book fits – a decision you get to make – but you need to know it down to the micro. For example, in nonfiction, if you’re writing a book on real estate investing, as one of my clients is, we know that it’s nonfiction, then real estate and investing. A book can be in two categories, even three. If it’s a mystery novel, know if it’s a cozy, an amateur sleuth, a police procedural, etc.
How are you going to answer the three questions above?
* Go to the bookstore.
* Go to the online bookstores.
* Go to the library.
* Scan the books for which ones are attractive and which ones just don’t appeal to you, but may appeal to your target audience.
* Take notes on which books are your companion and competitive books.
* Analyze how your book fills the gaps your companion and competitive books leave behind.
If you care about being a part of the greater conversation to succeed as a thought leader, then you’ll take the time do the research. Because your message can have an impact and effect thousands even millions of lives. And don’t you want that? I do!
c. 2010 Beth Barany
Author of The Writer’s Adventure Guide: 12 Stages to Writing Your Book, and Overcome Writer’s Block, Beth Barany has been an editor at The National Networker, and editor to the recently released anthology, While I Was There: Life at Berkeley 1960-2010. She’s also a contributing author to several anthologies, including Writing Romance (and managing editor) and Creativity Coaching Success Stories. Typically Beth’s clients are aspiring authors who want to build a business around their book. She helps them get their books done and out into the world, so they can get more clients, increase their national visibility, and ultimately succeed in their businesses. Beth works with clients in the US, Canada, and Europe, and gives workshops nationally and internationally. For more information, see her site: www.bethbarany.com, and her blog: www.writersfunzone.com/blog.
**Previous TNNW articles on the Writer’s Fun Zone.
This article was originally published in The National Networker Newsletter (http://www.TheNationalNetworker.com), and is reprinted with permission. This article may not be reproduced in whole or part without including the name of this author and an acknowledgment of the fact the article was originally published in The National Networker Newsletter (http://www.TheNationalNetworker.com). Any other use of this material is unauthorized and is a violation of law.