How to be a thought-leading author that gets noticed

Picture of wood fence with the word 'original' stencilled onto it in red

Are you thinking of writing a book, but worrying that everyone else has got there first?

As an editor, I’m approached by people who want to write books to position themselves as thought leaders, experts, become keynote speakers, use their book as a calling card and lead magnet, or to share their wisdom, experience and learning with others.

And that’s great – all valid reasons for publishing!

The problem is, the market seems so saturated that if you do want to position yourself and your personal brand in this way, it seems hard to actually have an original thought… When you’re writing on your subject area, topic or expertise, the chances are the general points have already been covered.

But it is possible to produce an entirely original book.

How? Because your voice, view, take or system are unique.

I’ll come on to the ways to achieve this below, but first: what I can advise you is how not to do it.

How not to do it
There are aspiring thought leaders out there who’ve been inspired by fast-tracked, high-rolling entrepreneurs, read goodness knows how many business or personal development books and decided to have a go themselves – but there isn’t a single, authentic note on the page because it’s largely parroting what already exists.

Those kinds of books have nothing new to offer, they read as secondhand content. It’s obvious just how much they lack real emotional investment.

(Incidentally, if you need a precis of a book to find out what it contains, you can always check out an app that summarises books – but generally, I don’t recommend this. It’s better to commit to reading the whole thing, if you have the time, or at least downloading a preview of the actual book and looking through that.)

How to do it
To ensure your offer’s fresh, it’s key to research before you even put hand to keyboard. To begin, look for:

  • your comparator titles in the market – who else is writing on your topic
  • who’s publishing them, and how recently
  • how these authors position themselves in your sector
  • their content and angle
  • reader reviews and responses.

Especially for practical how-to books and guides, it’s important to bear in mind that readers want a seamless experience that helps them to get in, get the information they need, and get out.

Readers of these kinds of books are time-poor: they want to go away feeling that their issues have been understood, and that the book has solved their pain points with solid, practical takeaways. This helps them to get unstuck, get moving and initiate real-world, positive solutions or change in themselves, their business or wider organisation and networks.

Your knowledge is invaluable here. But if you really want to stand out, your readers need to know what you think.

Ask yourself:

  • What is my own USP, my unique take?
  • What sets it apart from the rest?
  • What makes me and my view, system or approach worth listening to?

Don’t be afraid of any of that, or whatever comes up when you’re enquiring this of yourself or what you want to write. Part of the journey that every author goes through – especially first-time writers – is finding your voice.

Publishing is a courageous act, it’s entirely possible you may have a bit of doubt or a little confidence wobble along the way. That’s perfectly normal!

In the field of business and personal development there will always be topics writers want and need to discuss or revisit, which are the same as everyone else’s. They’re part of the scene, and that’s fine.

It’s how you address them – your individuality, style and take – that counts.

Don’t be afraid to let your passion and personality shine through!

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