10 Things I Learned From Writing a Book
When my book Disrupt You! was published two years ago today, I couldn’t have imagined the amazing impact it would have on my life. For anyone considering writing a book, I want to share the ten truths I learned from the process.
It’s a Small World After All
Our world is far smaller and more interconnected than I ever imagined. While it is true that 42% of US college graduates never read another book in their entire lives, it is also true that there are millions of eager minds around the globe thirsty for the knowledge and experience we take for granted. I have been blessed to hear from readers in over 100 countries that want to become entrepreneurs and impact their communities with positive change. Their hopes and dreams fuel me. Their emails sustain my passion for being purposeful with my life.
Readers Love to Share What Inspires Them
Readers love to share with their friends, coworkers and social media followers things that inspire them. The only marketing you need to have your book succeed are inspired readers. I am humbled by the effort readers have taken to spread my message. They’ve translated it into foreign languages, created videos, memes, museum installations and my favorite: a ten foot high neon sign. Once you share your thoughts with the world, the words are no longer yours. They will take on a life of their own.
Be Honest With Your Short Comings
When writing, I wrestled with how much of my personal story (both good and bad) to include in the book. Resoundingly, I have heard from readers that they want to hear from a real, authentic voice (warts and all). We all learned through our mistakes and sharing those challenges will help others overcome the obstacles they will undoubtedly face in their journey to success.
Readers Are Generous with their Hearts
In the age of social media, you will hear from your readers. Their kind words and thanks propelled me to speak around the world and make friends with some of the most incredible entrepreneurs, students, thinkers and progressive government officials on our planet. At an age when many of us get cynical with the state of affairs in the world, meeting those who are striving to make a difference will change you.
A Whole Generation is Looking for Purpose in their Lives
My generation was too busy making a living to ask the hard existential questions of why are we here. Today’s youth around the world recognize that the purpose of life is to live a life of purpose. Brands are just starting to catch up with this enlightened approach to our time together. I wrote a book to teach readers, but I ended up learning so much more from starting a dialog with them.
Your Perspective on Our World will Change
All of us have cultural and cognitive biases that we don’t recognize. When your book is published in other languages and countries who will be called out on your field of view. One reader wanted to know why I didn’t mention any successful female entrepreneurs until page 28. Conversely, many negative stereotypes of America were shattered by sharing how open our society is to agents of change. Be prepared to have your eyes opened.
Publishers Don’t Market
Really. They don’t. As much as I was told this, I was shocked that even the world’s largest publishing companies don’t understand how quickly their world has changed. You will have to build your own audience and platform. Expect to spend more time marketing your book than writing it (so make sure it is worth the effort).
Podcasting is an Author’s Medium
Podcasting is the 21st Century’s Oprah. Buy a good quality microphone and appear on as many shows as you can. Best of all, you can do podcasts all over the world without leaving your home (or even getting out of your PJs). I never visited Australia on my book tour, but hit number one on the charts there thanks to a podcast. The biggest difference between podcasts and television is that a TV show airs once while a podcast stays online forever. So doing multiple shows over time builds into a cumulative tsunami effect.
My Mother Finally Understands What I do
For most of her 80+ years, I don’t think my mother understood my life as an entrepreneur. But she is the best grammarian I know. So after all of the editors finished proofreading my book, mom gave it the final inspection (and found 17 mistakes the professionals missed). I so cherish that experience and now will forever know to use “If I were”, not “If I was.”
Paying it Forward is the Most Rewarding Thing You Can Do
What is the purpose of amassing knowledge and gaining insights into the human condition unless you share it? We each have a unique journey, unique wisdom, and unique talents. Paying it forward to help make the journey better for those who follow is the real reward of writing a book. I look forward to reading your words and learning from your journey.
Jay Samit is the independent vice chairman of Deloitte’s Digital Reality practice and author of the bestselling book Disrupt You!