How to write a book chapter

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I write business books. Every chapter is a 5,000-word package full of stories, detail, statistics, insights, and recommendations. You don’t just sit down and write one of those at random. Here’s what it takes to create one. In the last 10 years I’ve written, cowritten, or ghostwritten six books. Five of them were case-study powered business … Continued

Jay Acunzo’s Break the Wheel: Looking askance at best practices

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You ought to read Jay Acunzo’s first book, Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work. But only if you’re willing to think a bit. There is, in theory, a best way to do anything. There is a best way to change your oil, write a business letter, evaluate … Continued

Can women write successful business books?

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On its face, this is an absurd question. But my friends are hearing this question and wondering about bias in the publishing industry. Today I’d like to explode those myths. The impetus for this post was the testimony of a female author I know who is trying to sell her next book. She has asked … Continued

An editor’s notebook: when repeated words are the author’s “binky”

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Which words does your author come back to again and again? As an editor, your eye and ear must detect these repetitions, but that’s not sufficient. You need to understand why the author comes back to them and suggest fixes that improve meaning, rather than just creating variety. In a business book I recently edited, the … Continued

An editor’s notebook: How to help authors who get carried away

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One big job of an editor is to provide a perspective from outside the confines of the writer’s head. Writers burble out all sorts of prose that made sense to them when they wrote it. The editor points out what must change for that prose to make sense to everyone else. Today’s examples come from … Continued

An editor’s notebook: When it comes to metaphors, don’t be a slut

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Editors deal in meaning. Metaphors are great for meaning — until they get out of hand. What do you tell an author whose relationship with metaphors has become promiscuous? Today’s example, like yesterday’s, comes from a book I was editing. The author had great ideas and an engaging writing style, but occasionally got carried away. … Continued

An editor’s notebook: Analyzing and untangling sentences

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One of the editor’s primary jobs is to make sentences say what they mean. When the prose gets in the way of the ideas, fix the prose. A focus on the subjects and verbs in sentences can help make prose clearer and reduce the cognitive load on the reader. These examples come from a book … Continued