Your Reliability

writing a bookYou  may not be the most trusted name in news, but your readers should have confidence in what you write.

Brian Williams, the NBC newsreader, got into trouble for claiming something had happened to him that actually hadn’t happened to him. He got a suspension, and who knows what his future holds? He may no longer be the most trusted name in news – whatever that means these days. But who knows?

Bill O’Reilly, the Fox host, has been accused of falsifying where he reported from during the Falklands conflict in the early 1980s. So far, the affair has been one of shouting and threats and, according to news reports, unlikely to result in anything like a suspension. O’Reilly is a provocateur, and his audience doesn’t care if he’s right or wrong – it’s all about whether his attitude rings true for the people who watch him.

You’re in a different situation. As an entrepreneur who’s writing a book, want to be trusted (whether you’re the most trusted name in your field is another story – and that’s a title that’s usually self-given, in any event). And if your credibility is found wanting, you won’t be suspended, nor will you have recourse to shouting back at your accusers from a public forum. You’ll lose readers and probably business. And it’s hard to come back from that.

Now, lack of trust can come from simple mistakes such as not verifying the truth of some of the facts that you think you remember, or of making statements that don’t hold up (this is usually true when it comes to money or finance). Or lack of trust can come from more egregious things like copying someone else’s work without properly attributing it, or even failing to refer to where you got your information for your book. (Always tell readers where you found your data).

So much can be checked online these days that even with the best intentions writers can stumble if they’re not careful about what they say. Now, you’re probably an expert, and you’re probably writing a book that shows off your expertise. But you want to make sure that what you say can be verified, that what you say is original or attributed, that what you say is your actual experiences.

If your book has a lot of facts, and case studies, it would be good to hire a fact-checker, a researcher and an independent reader to keep you on your toes.

Your honesty should never come into question. People remember tainted reputations more than they do good works, unfortunately.

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