Writing Without Bullshit: How I got here

My book publishes tomorrow. This is the first book I’ve written without coauthors and a company behind me. How did I get here? Why a book on  this topic? I received 10,000 press releases in my 20 years at Forrester. I estimate that 2% of those had any relevance at all. In the ones that … Continued

Donald Trump, “The Art of the Deal,” and the ethics of ghostwriting

The New Yorker just published a fascinating article, “Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All,” revealing what really happened when Tony Schwartz ghostwrote The Art of the Deal for Donald Trump. Schwartz says, “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” … Continued

Friendly competitors

Authors and books don’t compete. Instead, they support each other. I wonder why that doesn’t happen in more places? I noticed this as soon as I became an author. The other authors welcomed me as a friend who’d joined a club; we’d all shared a similar experience. Authors blurb each others’ books, even (or especially) if they … Continued

Beware the litany of passive accusations

Dan Lyons’ book Disrupted tars the whole startup business with the brush of his experience at HubSpot. One key element is to show that the rest of Silicon Valley is also corrupt with a recitation of all the recent sins of tech companies. Whenever you see a list like this, you should be skeptical. Here’s a paragraph … Continued

Why do authors get paid to give speeches?

Any author will tell you: the money’s in the speeches. A slightly successful author gets occasional gigs and small fees. A moderately successful author gets regular bookings and decent fees. A monster bestselling author is getting rich off royalties — which is very rare — but she’s also getting paid an awful lot to speak. … Continued

How to talk to a graphic designer about book covers

I’ve been working with designers for many decades. I have no graphical talent, and counterintuitively, that’s one reason why I’ve been successful in getting some amazing designs. Great designs emerge from a graphical mind; your job, as the client, is to provide the inspiration, not pick colors or icons. When you’re working with a good designer on an … Continued

The sublime joy of making a book index

I love to index books, because it requires intense thinking that’s like writing in reverse. To make an index you must ask, for every passage in a book, “If I were looking for this, what words would describe what I was looking for?” Writing means thinking of an idea and creating content for it. Indexing is the reverse: reviewing … Continued