Are you serious about writing a breakthrough book?

A book that gets noticed, read, written about.  A book that doesn’t get lost among the thousands of books that get published every year?  A book that merits attention and gets it.

Help is Everywhere

There are lots of formulas you can follow, blogs you can read, courses you can sign up for, e-books you can download, many free. There’s Jeff Goins, Writer's CircleJane Friedman,  the Creative Penn. I’ve learned from all of them.

My new favorite?  Ben Parr. His book, CAPTIVOLOGY: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention, is what I would call a breakthrough book. And he tells you how to do it.

He offers seven “captivation triggers” that he says will help you “rise above the noisy crowd and be heard—all without having to shout.”  ("You" being an entrepreneur, author, parent, manager, agent, teacher or anyone in the business of persuasion.)  His basic pitch is surprise.

If you can disrupt attention with a shock of some kind, you will disrupt the nervous system and force someone to pay attention—at least briefly. Your next problem is to sustain that attention. He’s got a great metaphor for that: BONFIRE.  You start with twigs and then add logs until you have a Bonfire of Attention.

The Problem with Advice

I love advice. I’m addicted to it. Of course, it’s useful. But advice can be a distraction from getting on with our own work. How far (and where?) does the next cool tip or technology really take us? More often it takes us AWAY from the goal of writing our book and making it the best it can be.

Advice is especially problematic when it relates to the positioning of your book.  What makes your book special or unique is absolutely necessary to understand from the beginning, but it is not something we figure out by looking at similar books, a list of book categories or the gaps in the market.

Here’s the thing: You are already unique.

Reverse your direction—stop seeking advice and connect with your own wisdom and vision. Because you have one. You don’t need to try to be cool or insightful or different. YOU ALREADY ARE!

You will dilute or miss the potential power of your book if you compare it to others. But we all do. Let’s admit it. And then we get discouraged and lose our motivation. We get stuck and disconnected from the original fire that drove us.

There is one way and one way only out of this dilemma.

The act of writing.

Your book today cannot be propped up by the work you did yesterday or last week. You have to do it every day.

It’s like food. Yesterday’s fuel is used up and today you need more. You don’t argue with your body’s need. You eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Life must be sustained. Creativity also requires sustenance.

Be Your #1 Fan

Writing is difficult. Shaping a book that expresses your vision and purpose is especially difficult (no matter what the self-styled Write-your-book-in-30-days gurus say.)

Simon Sinek, famous for his breakthrough “Start with Why” TED talk (go listen if you haven’t heard it) said:  

“All leaders must have two things: they must have a vision of the world that does not exist and they must have the ability to communicate it.”

There is a big insight here for authors.

You are involved in a creative activity, which means you are engaged in making something which does not yet exist. Think about it:  when you sit down to write, that’s what you’re doing.

In a recent post on Facebook, Jeff Goins wrote: “Discouragement is part of the creative process. If you aren't feeling discouraged, you aren't trying brave things.”

Writing is a brave thing.

Claim your bravery. Please share about a time when you faced your discouragement and confusion and sat down to write in spite of it. What happened? What did you learn? 

The Value of a Book Manifesto

When aspiring authors start writing, their work is often not cohesive. They find themselves going off in unfocused directions and find it difficult to create a structure that supports their story or subject.

When you create your Book Manifesto, you have a blueprint you can work from. This blueprint helps you stay connected to your core passion. Your Book Manifesto also helps you hold to your vision and your resolve when you come up against those pesky demons of doubt and discouragement—as we all do in the writing life.

Hope you find it useful. Have questions? Send ‘em on over.