Are you trying to establish your brand as distinct from others? A book written by you can serve as a credibility card for your expertise in your field of interest.

 

Branding yourself with a book can help set you apart from experts that do similar work. It gives you a chance to show people what’s different about you, your message, and your methods.

 

To get started, or unstuck if you began writing but ran out of enthusiasm for your book, think about what sets you apart. What’s your story? How did you come to start your business or organization?

 

How did you begin writing and speaking about the subjects you cover? What inspired you?

 

What did you do to go from your lowest point to your highest point of success, whether it’s success in business, managing the challenges in life, parenting, or something else?

 

If I come to your website’s About page, what will I read? What photos of you will I see? If you’re a physician but also a motivational speaker, will I pick that up quickly by looking at the images of you and any other graphics? If you don’t yet have a website, start to build one. I like Wix and find it very easy to use if you know nothing about coding. Some people prefer WordPress or Squarespace or Godaddy’s website builder.

 

Also, think about who will connect with your brand. Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House Publishing, has said that a book for everyone is a book for no one. The truth is that no brand and no book will appeal to every single person. That’s okay: You’ll have a brand and a book that appeals to a defined audience.

 

credibility card expert brand yourself with a book

Brand yourself with a book that serves as a credibility card for your expertise.

 

Maybe your followers will be business owners—in other words, you have a business-to-business or B2B brand.

 

Maybe your followers and fans will be parents who are in a similar situation to one you were in when you began developing your expertise in a particular area of parenting. My book Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Guide to Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues originated when I was desperate to find a book that would answer my questions and give me strategies for parenting a child with sensory issues. The book appeals to parents of kids with sensory issues but also to a secondary audience: professionals who work with these kids. For example, occupational therapists, psychologists, and teachers make up a big part of the book’s fan base. Raising a Sensory Smart Child has served as my credibility card and helped me book speaking engagements and teach workshops on the topic of helping kids who have sensory issues. What’s more, it has helped me to create a legacy book (with the help of my coauthor, Lindsey Biel) and fulfill my desire to make a difference in the world. It feels wonderful to know my book has changed many family’s lives for the better!

 

Another thing to think about when conceptualizing your book is that you need to have enough experience to be able to offer valuable insights and strategies to readers, using stories from your life and your work to illustrate your ideas. I often hear from clients who are eager to get started writing a book that can help other people but haven’t yet done the actual work of researching what else is out there on their topic. They aren’t clear on what they have to offer that no one else does. Put simply, they aren’t ready to write an entire book. They may, however, be ready to write a mini book, start writing and speaking publicly, and begin researching what else is being said on their topic and what has yet to be explored.

 

If you’re an aspiring author who isn’t established as an expert in your field but you feel you do have a fresh take on a topic, think about getting a foreword for your book or teaming with a coauthor who can help you boost your book’s visibility and your brand’s credibility. Many moms of kids with sensory issues did what I did: researched our children’s issues and joined support groups and exchanged ideas, strategies, and insights. However, I teamed up with a professional who treats kids with sensory issues and we got someone with a highly recognizable name and credibility among parents of kids with sensory issues to write us a foreword. I then did original research, including interviewing experts who had worked with teenagers who have sensory processing disorder. I knew that other books on sensory issues that were available had nothing about how to help kids once they reach adolescence. Through doing my own research, I came to know more about this particular topic than many people who were already writing about sensory issues.

 

I wasn’t coaching parents when I cowrote my book, and you don’t have to be a coach or consultant if you’re writing a book on a topic, but it helps if you can draw on stories other than your own. If you want to interview people for your book, where will you find them? How will you disguise their stories to protect their privacy? You can also draw anecdotes from wisdom tradition teaching stories (think of the blind men and the elephant, or the story from Buddhism of the overflowing cup of tea) and from current and historical events.

 

Exercises and action plans that are typically a part of a self-help book are important takeaways readers expect. If you are only just beginning to work as a coach or consultant, you might want your book to be more focused on themes and lessons: You can write a book of lessons, principles, or strategies or a short memoir. Even so, it’s good to have some exercises. You might want to create a quiz or exercises that are unique to you. These could be guided visualizations, meditations, journaling questions, or something else. Here’s an example of a guided visualization a client created and developed a video for that is tied into his messaging about working with the Earth for healing and accessing the wisdom of the unconscious.

 

Finally, as you think about writing your book, remember that people think of a book as a substantial document that also has a shape and structure rather than simply being a long document that got printed and stapled. Begin envisioning what your book will look and feel like as a physical object. Get a sense of how many words you need to write. A typical self-help book has somewhere around 50,000 to 70,000 words, for example.

 

Start typing or dictating into software that turns speech into text and see where you go. How much can you get down before you get stuck on what more you want to say?

 

You might have the basis for a strong book for your brand but need help fleshing out your ideas and expanding on them. Many aspiring authors are used to short-form writing and could use some help turning their ideas into a long-form book. Don’t give up! Get some insights from a professional writer, editor, and consultant who works with authors aspiring to brand themselves with a book. Check out comparative books and see what is out there on the Internet if you do a search for the type of information, strategies, and support people will find in your book.

 

Search Amazon, too. Use keywords but also use questions people might ask, such as, “How do I help my middle schooler do better in school” or “What’s the best way to way to pay off my student loan earlier?” Ask yourself, “Given what’s out there on this topic, why would someone want to hear what I have to say, buy my book, and read it?” If you can answer that, you have a solid foundation to begin branding yourself with a book and firmly establishing yourself as an expert on your topic.

 

Where are you in your writing and publishing journey? Do you need a few tips, a fresh strategy, or feedback on what you’ve written so far? Contact me if you’re feeling stuck and need help: info@nancypeske.com

 

 

 

Cinematherapy is self-care: It’s choosing watching movies that match your mood soothe the soul in troubled times, make you laugh or make you cry, and cure a Bad Hair Day, too. My new article in Spirituality & Health magazine offers some suggestions for Cinematherapy movies and streaming series, and you’ll find more recommendations at MyCinematherapy.

USA Today dubbed Cinematherapy “a cultural phenomenon” as movie watchers latched on to the six-book Cinematherapy series by Nancy Peske and Bev West that taught them it’s okay to feel your feelings, behave badly now and again, and learn something about what you’re going through. Watching a movie you pick because you’re in the mood for it is a great way to reconnect with yourself and what you’re going through, and you’re likely to get some insights that make you feel a little more on top of your upside down world.

Is there a movie you watch over and over again? What does it make you feel when that familiar music and/or titles come on screen? What do you get out of all that rewatching?

Ever had a movie speak right to your soul, depicting what you’re going through emotionally and giving you ideas and a new perspective? That’s the power of Cinematherapy.

So fast forward past those “action/adventure” and “drama” genres and instead ask yourself, “Hmm, what am I in the mood to watch?” and indulge in Cinematherapy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are some of the differences between developmental editing and ghostwriting?

 

Ghostwriters write the first drafts of chapters. Developmental editors collaborate with the author on getting the first drafts written.

 

Ghostwriters will interview clients, look at writing the author may already have done (blog pieces, articles, etc.) and work with the expert to create a chapter outline. In contrast, a developmental editor will improve the list of contents the author created. Both of these book publishing professionals help an author conceive of what needs to go in the book and what can be left out, but a developmental editor has much more to work with—a manuscript, whether it’s complete or not.

 

The process of collaboration between the book publishing professional and the client can differ from what I’ve described, but in general, it’s the ghostwriter who does the initial writing on any chapter and who does most if not all of the crafting of the chapter outline. I do both ghostwriting and developmental editing, and my clients know I’m flexible with how the work gets done most efficiently. I have clients who have nothing on paper or in a computer document when they first approach me about helping them with their book. Often, they like to start by dictating their ideas into a phone and then send me the digital file of what they dictated. After that, we have some back and forth about their stories and ideas by email and phone. Other clients come to me with a very rough “stream of consciousness” draft that’s as long as the manuscript for a book ready to go into production. Creating that manuscript helped them get clear on the book they want to write and their strengths and weaknesses in getting it to be well-shaped and well-written, but the writing process taught them that they need professional help to get the book in shape. Sometimes, they can do it on their own with coaching and some development help. Sometimes, they know they don’t want to try to create a new draft on their own. They’re certain they’re ready to hire a ghostwriter.

 

Ghostwriters create the voice for the writing. Developmental editors make suggestions and comments about where the voice is working or not working and will point out any inconsistencies in voice.

 

Let’s say you’re a physician and in your writing, you use too many words a lay reader won’t understand or will be intimidated by. A developmental editor will point out words to change and will probably suggest some alternatives. A developmental editor will also suggest ways to improve your writing, such as avoiding the passive voice. (“Mistakes were made” is an example of passive voice. “I made mistakes” is an example of active voice.) A developmental editor will also note the types of grammar and punctuation errors you’ve made and remind you to check these when you create the next draft. I commonly see people use colons (:) when they mean to use semicolons (;) and start a sentence with a clause that doesn’t go with the subject of the sentence. (“As the parent of three children, too many kids are not learning how to manage money.” “Too many kids” is not the subject of the verb “are not learning.” “As the parent of three children, I believe…” would be a grammatical way to set up a sentence like this one.) Line editors, also known as copyeditors, can go through the next draft and correct all the mistakes.

 

Ghostwriters? Well, ghostwriters aren’t supposed to make errors in grammar and punctuation. Thus, every single one of my first drafts I write as a ghostwriter is flawless…. Okay, nearly flawless. The point is that at the early stages of writing, there are bound to be some errors that need to get fixed along the way, but the ghostwriter really does have to have mastery of grammar and punctuation rules. I know my gerundives from my gerunds—you, as my client, don’t have to!

 

What do ghostwriters and developmental editors have in common?

 

Ghostwriters revise additions and changes made by the author. Developmental editors typically don’t. While a ghostwriter will create a first draft of a chapter or section of the book, the author might add to the document. For example, in doing developmental editing, I will often suggest a transition sentence or main idea sentence that can provide clarity. When reviewing the Word document that’s been prepared by a ghostwriter, a client can type in words and answers to queries that have been embedded within it or offer comments in an email or over the phone or Skype before a second draft is prepared. Developmental editors commonly leave it up to the client to make changes before taking the manuscript to the next stage in the process of publication. However, a client might decide to hire the developmental editor look at some or all of the revised draft, especially if the changes were quite extensive.

 

Ghostwriters and developmental editors do not share writing credit, get their name on the front of the book, or share the liability with the author for the material in the book. Professional ghostwriters, developmental editors, and copyeditors will check facts the author includes in the book. However, ultimately, the author maintains the liability for mistakes. Recognize that memory can be faulty, so be sure to fact check your own book. As for credit on the book, sometimes ghostwriters turn into co-writers after conversations between them and the client, but it’s not very common.

 

As you can see, there are overlaps between the two different jobs but some key differences, too. By sharing drafts of your material back and forth, you and your ghostwriter/developmental editor can decide how you can work together most effectively to get your book written professionally.

 

Make sense? Let me know if you need my help. Drop me a line at info at nancy at nancypeske.com or use my contact form and give me a sense of where you are with your project and what kind of help you think you need as well as your budget if you know what it is.

 

Developmental Editor

Ghostwriting and developmental editing have some overlaps and some differences.

Why should someone buy your transformational nonfiction book? Because you’re going to solve an urgent problem of theirs.

Back when I was an in-house editor at G. P. Putnam’s Sons and HarperCollins, I used to evaluate book proposals (selling tools used to try to get editors like me to give authors book deals). The book proposals for transformational nonfiction books—think business books, self-help, parenting, lessons on achieving success, and so on—had to make a compelling case that the book would solve an urgent problem for the reader.

When you write a transformational nonfiction book, you’re promising readers you can help them go from problem to solution. You’ll help them achieve this goal by offering them information and strategies, yes, but you also want them to feel they have to buy your book right now. It’s emotion that draws people in. Make your potential reader experience a sense of urgency about their problem and finding a solution that will end their headaches and frustration at last.

 

And keep this in mind: A reader’s urgent problem your book will solve might actually be a combination of problems.

 

My book, Raising a Sensory Smart Child, was written for the parent who wants to know how to help their child who has sensory processing issues. When I first began thinking of writing the book, there was information out there in bookstores and on the Internet but not enough for a parent like me to have a solid sense of what to do to get my child’s teeth brushed and to prevent him from melting down at the grocery store. Plenty of parents were stressed out and confused about what to do for their kids. My book would meet that urgent problem by offering even more information and strategies than they currently had. However, I knew that beyond needing those things, parents of kids with sensory processing issues are afraid that if their kids are struggling to function well (which is the case when kids with sensory issues don’t have them adequately addressed), kids are likely to become demoralized and give up on themselves. No parent wants that for their child so I knew that addressing that particular fear was important. My coauthor and I reassured potential readers with the promise that the book could help them go from being lost, confused, and worried (as I once was) to feeling competent and capable and actually helping their child manage their sensory issues (where I ended up after learning about sensory issues and developing “sensory smart” parenting strategies).

Problem and promise.

Both were infused with emotion.

My expertise was in going from where they were to where I was—an effective parent of a happy kid who yeah, had sensory processing differences, but that’s okay and even a good thing in some ways.

The narrative arc of my story was emotionally compelling.

I wanted to make sure people believed and felt that if I could do it, they could, too.

 

Increase the emotional reassurance factor of your book and you will have an easier time getting people to buy it.

 

Your narrative arc of going from your worst point to your greatest success increases the emotional factor of your book if you make your readers feel your fear, shame, and distress back when you were at your low point and feel the excitement of having reached your high point. Make them feel you empathize with their plight. That will help you attract readers who are in crisis or nearly frozen with anxiety about what will happen if they don’t fix their urgent problem.

If your readers have the problem you’ve identified but you’re concerned it might not feel very urgent to them, you can increase the emotional impact of your book by warning them of what might happen if they don’t make a change now—they might end up where you did! Simultaneously, you can encourage them to believe they can get to where you are—success!—if only they read your book and use your strategies for addressing their problem. In sum, you can make their problem feel more urgent. And you can offer the tantalizing promise of solving it at last.

 

Effectively convey the urgent problem and your promise of helping them solve it.

 

Once you have identified your potential reader’s problem or problems, and you’ve offered a promise, you’ll need to make sure you clearly and effectively convey them. Use your title and subtitle combination, your book’s jacket, the short description of your book they’ll find on its back, and copy and images on your author website to get across the problem and promise. Also, spell out the urgent problem and your promise for solving it at the beginning of your book. Keep in mind, too, that you’re going to want your chapter titles to reflect the reader’s ability to go from where they are (having an urgent problem) to where they’re going to end up (problem solved or nearly so because they’re now better informed, have a clearer sense of what they need to do, and feel more confident). What’s the promise? What can they actually achieve? What will their journey from problem to promised outcome look like as they read your book?

As you try to identify the urgent problem or problems you reader has, consider the following:

How long has your reader had this problem? Is it ongoing and frustrating? Has the amount of stress the problem has caused them and is causing them enough to make them, well, pretty desperate for help now?

Does your reader feel he has tried everything? Has he become skeptical about whether the problem can be solved or at least addressed sufficiently that it no longer bothers him? Can she start believing there’s hope because of your inspiring story that led to your writing your book?

Have you anecdotes about working with people just like your reader who thought there was little hope for change and who discovered that by using your ideas and strategies, they were able to achieve it after all?

What’s your reader willing to give up or do to make the urgent problem go away at last? Is he willing to commit to an action plan for change? Is she willing to question old ideas that have her stuck in a failure mindset?

The greater your reader’s frustration, the greater her urgency to finally find a solution. The greater the impact of the problem on your reader’s life, the more motivated she is to give your book a try.

Maybe you have the right action plan and approach that no one else has offered.

Maybe your personality, voice, and approach will make your book the game-changer for your reader because unlike other books, your book gives them hope for the first time in a long time.

Maybe your hand-holding, compassionate way of talking about their problem will make them set aside their shame and embarrassment and tackle their problem at last.

Increasing the emotional impact of your book’s message will definitely give you a better shot at having your transformational nonfiction book sell. Even more than that, it will make your book more effective at helping readers to transform their lives for the better. Believe me, hearing from a reader that your book changed their life feels fantastic. THIS is why you’re writing your transformational nonfiction book!

 

Need help writing your business book, self-help book, life lessons book, or other transformational nonfiction book? Contact me and let me know what your expertise is, what type of book you have started to write, and what kind of help you feel you need.

 

transformational nonfiction books solve an urgent problem

 

As you structure your transformative nonfiction book, whether it’s a self-help book, business book, life lessons book, or something else, here’s a tip: Don’t forget to keep a list of contents at the beginning of the manuscript in all drafts.

 

The list of contents (no longer called a “table of contents” but just “contents”) belongs at the beginning of your manuscript even before you begin writing chapter one. Why? Because you want to offer a roadmap to where you’re going.

 

What are you planning to write? How many chapters will you have? Will you take your reader on a hero’s journey or heroine’s journey of self-discovery, struggle, mastery, and triumph? If you’re writing a book of life lessons, what are the life lessons and in what order will you present them?

 

Check your contents list against the actual chapter titles before submitting to an editor and a publisher. Having the up-to-date contents list at the beginning of the document file provides guidance for the developmental editor or acquisitions editor at a publishing house, who will check the contents against what you had your book proposal (if you submitted one).

 

Will they find differences? Not if you double-checked your contents!

 

Chapter titles almost always change in the writing of a book—ditto the order of chapters. For example, you might split a chapter into two or combine two chapters. You might come up with a more clever chapter title, one that better captures what you wrote about.

 

Help your editor out by saving her the time she would spend cutting and pasting chapter titles and querying any differences.

 

Is there anything you want to change about the order or titling of your chapters?

 

Note that while it’s not strictly necessary to have consistency in chapter titles (or even header titles, for that matter), it can help the reader feel a sense of familiarity. Many of my clients have had double chapter titles similar to a title and subtitle combination, in other words, CLEVER CHAPTER TITLE: Subtitle for the Chapter Title That More Clearly Explains the Concept. If you can come up with clever chapter titles that also clearly explain the concept, fantastic!

 

Struggling with your chapter titles and order? You might want to check out my article on structuring self-help books.

 

And as always, if you need help pulling yourself out of the weeds while writing your book, contact me about my services.

List of contents self-help book transformative fiction roadmap reduces confusion

Maintaining and updating a list of contents in your self-help book or other transformative nonfiction book means always having a roadmap.

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