You Should Write a Book

In his podcast, Akimbo [], Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

In this podcast, Seth shared his book publishing experience and discussed how the process has changed over the years. Book writing is a project that is suitable as an individual effort. When we consider writing and publishing a book, here are some recommendations to keep in mind.

The basic principle is that the magic of writing a book is that we are not trying to influence everyone. We are simply trying to influence someone. If that is the case, should we write a book?

Seth asserted that…

We should consider writing a book because we have something we can share.

We should consider writing a book because our experiences are worth showing to other people.

We should consider writing a book because it is a generous way to turn on lights or to open doors for someone.

We should consider writing a book because the writing process itself will clarify our thoughts and thinking.

We should consider writing a book because of the generous act of sharing insights with others might earn us some credibility, permission, and trust with the people who engage with our book.

But what do the book-publishing and book-selling business look like, past and present?

One reality about book-publishing is that the book-publishers recognize that their customer is the bookstore (physical and online), not the reader. Booksellers have an easy time reaching the publisher. Booksellers are visited all the time by the publishers, but not so much the readers.

Book publishing also was fraught with up-front capital and risks. The risks come in the physical work forms of chopping down trees, filling a warehouse with books, and shipping them around when needed. With the Internet and the digital age (e-books and audiobooks), many of these risks from the physical work disappeared.

So right now every one of us has the opportunity a professional in the book industry. If we decided to publish our book, we do not need to take on the enormous financial risk it used to have. Instead we can focus our effort on doing the emotional labor of bringing our book out in a format that is accessible to people and will help us convey the subject we are trying to teach.

What are we missing? One was the publishers spending the time and money to nurture the newbie author to help him carefully create a book that works. Those days are gone. The persistent and consistent promotion throughout months or years to develop an author and an author’s following, that is also gone. People aren’t spending the time anymore.

Seth also outlined the following principles and gave examples. The principles are:

  • Our book is not for everyone, but it might be for someone.
  • The format and cover matter. Others will judge the book by how it looks.
  • The best seller list is a scam, and we should ignore it.

If we are willing to do the work and show up with generosity consistently, people are going to read our book. If people read our book and they do not like it, we should simply write another book. This act of clearly articulating our thinking down in writing for people who want to learn about us and from us is fun and generous. The effort of writing the book and learning from the book are ultimately productive for everybody.