Writing a Book: How to add unique value

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I spent part of yesterday afternoon in an Options Review Session chatting with a young man who’s thinking about writing a book. He’s worried that he won’t have anything new to say. I’ve heard that more than a few times. Usually, it’s worry about nothing.

It’s true, as Michael LeBoeuf said that “The greatest truths are too important to be new.” But a book is more than the truths you tell. A great book tells the truth in a unique way. Here are some unique ways to add value to your book.

Weave in Your Personal Story

When Rod Santomassimo and I worked on his Amazon best-seller, Brokers Who Dominate, Rod’s life story added richness and insights to the profiles of the top brokers we wrote about. Rod’s experience as a top producer and a supervisor of top producers and from his experience as a coach gave him a unique perspective on the commercial real estate business. His family, his Duke MBA, and his experience as a Division I college lacrosse player all made his book a book no one else could write.

Bring Things up to Date

Things are sure changing fast. Today’s world is simply different from the world of even a decade ago. You’re writing today, with the perspective that today brings. When Tom Hall and I reviewed the research on the characteristics of top performing companies, we found that many of the exemplars of yesteryear had fallen on hard times. That gave us a starting point. We looked back over business history to find out what separated companies who achieved long term success from those who only succeeded for a little while. We called it Ruthless Focus.

Add Original Research

Susan Finerty’s Master the Matrix would have been a great book if all she drew on was her experience as a consultant. But she went a step further and did some original research to make her book even better and unique.

Use Fresh Examples

If you want to use business examples, don’t use the ones that everyone else uses. There are plenty of new stories out there and the business press will bring them to your attention.

You can also use a different metaphor for a truth that others have written about. For decades, authors have urged us to “do one thing at a time” and to concentrate on a single goal. But when Jim Collins wrote about it as “The Hedgehog Concept,” it clicked anew for many readers.

Bottom Line

The truths you tell in your book won’t be unique. What makes a great business book is the unique way you present the truth.

Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying

Jeff Perlman   |   06 Jun 2012   |   Reply

I enjoy your Leadership blog.
Rod and I grew up together in Stony Brook, N.Y.
I lost track of him until I saw your website. Even though I’m not in real estate I just ordered his book.
I just finished a book myself and am trying to figure out what to do with it.
I served as mayor of a city in South Florida and enjoyed a lot of unique experiences.
As a mayor, I searched for a book that could help me lead a city. There’s very little out there and yet thousands of people are involved in community building across the country.
Rod is an inspiration–maybe now they’ll be another author out of the Stony Brook Swim and Racquet Club.
Best, Jeff

Anonymous   |   29 Oct 2012   |   Reply
Anonymous   |   30 Oct 2012   |   Reply
Paul Gibbons   |   07 Nov 2013   |   Reply

As an aspiring author I found this very helpful Wally. Thanks!

Wally   |   10 Nov 2013   |   Reply

Thanks for the kind words