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What to Leave Out

2014-0910-478964993You can’t put everything you know into a book. Unless you’re Leo Tolstoy or Marcel Proust or George Eliot.

But if you’re an expert in your field, and writing a book based on your work or the courses you teach, you’ll soon realize that you have too much information that can be easily contained in a single book.

That’s a good thing – you probably have plenty of material for future books. The difficulty is knowing what to leave out of your book in progress, especially if it’s your first book, and you want to position yourself as an authority. You may feel you have to lay it on thick, in terms of information, so that you can display how much you know and thus be taken seriously.

But your book, in addition to being a positioning tool for your business and your own brand, is also a way to introduce people to your services or processes, not to overwhelm them with your expertise.

So here a few things to consider if you’re consolidating material you’ve amassed during your career, and writing a book based on your successes in speaking, lecturing and consulting.

• Be judicious in using your data. If you have an in-depth process for improvement, outline it in the book in a methodical way, but leave the fine details for when you work directly with a client.

• Don’t over-explain. You want to lay out your ideas clearly, but you don’t want the nitty-gritty to slow down your narrative.

• Choose visuals that are different from your seminars. That is, think visually and illustrate your points, but think in terms of your reader as a reader not a spectator or participant. You can’t use the relative shorthand of a video or PowerPoint presentation to get your point across. You have both to explain it and use diagrams or simple visuals to do it in a book. And remember, a book is rather static in that way – so think about how you will visualize your methods without benefit of a moving picture.
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• Rely on your website for additional details. Your website works in tandem with your book, and can be a source of more information about the points you’re making in your book, additional anecdotes that deepen the narrative of your book and even more of the visual information you left out of the book, such as videos.

• Don’t be too sales-oriented in the book – that’s what your site is for. Your book can lead people to your website and business, and that’s where the real sales takes place. Your book is a continuation of a conversation you began in building your platform, and it’s also a detailed introduction of what you are all about. Save the sales spiel for your website, where you can direct interested readers to your company and services.

The way information is presented depends a lot on whether it’s a book, a lecture, a seminar or a webinar. In a book, you’ve got to be a lot choosier about what you include. Readers are not captive audiences.

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