Do bestselling authors become millionaires?

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Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist, explained how he became a millionaire: “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can become a millionaire, too.” Can you, really? Let’s look at the economics. As you read this, recognize that it comes from working with dozens of nonfiction authors and reviewing their book … Continued

Your book is not a book

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With a nod to RenĂ© Magritte, the book you write is not a book. Magritte’s painting is actually called La Trahison des images (“The Treachery of images”) and includes the words Ceci n’est pas une pipe (“This is not a pipe”). Because, of course, it’s not a pipe. It’s a painting. But enough about Magritte. … Continued

“Competing authors” is an oxymoron

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Benjamin Dreyer is a copy editor who just wrote a book on English. So is Mary Norris, the “Comma Queen.” So they’re in competition, right? Not even close. Here’s some Twitter repartee between the two: Traditionally, two people in the same space are competitors. But that dynamic doesn’t apply with authors, for several reasons: A … Continued

Write what you know. (But what if all you know is the inside of your own brain?)

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They tell fiction authors to “write what you know.” The same obviously applies to non-fiction. But it’s all too easy to go from that to “Write about yourself” — especially when it comes to self-help books. If you know about marketing strategy, write about marketing strategy. If you know about startups, write about startups. Just … Continued

The ROAM test for business books

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There are four questions you really should answer before setting out on a business book journey. They’ll determine everything from your title to your content to your publishing model. I first created the ROAM test for general business writing. It includes four elements: Readers, Objective, Action, and iMpression. If you’re going to work on something … Continued

Please don’t write a book

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People sometimes come to me with a manuscript of their nonfiction book and ask, “Can you help?” Often, this is the most frustrating conversation I ever have. Please don’t start by writing a book. Start differently. Start first by asking if there is something you know that will change people. It doesn’t have to be … Continued

What all business authors do

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I’ve been working with and interviewing a lot of authors lately. I am trying to get at what makes them tick. While it is true that they aren’t altruists — they’re in it boost their own standing and businesses, of course — I am beginning to think I’m getting to the nub of what’s important … Continued