A great business book or self-help guide has multiple lives. The first is when it’s read by its original readers. The subsequent ones are when they tell their friends about it, and the friends read it too. Each time an element of the book is re-told, that book’s impact is magnified, just like ripples spread outwards when a stone is thrown into a pool. But here’s the thing. A book being talked about doesn’t happen by accident. There are certain criteria it must meet in order for it to ‘go viral’. One of these, of course, is that its content matters
Authors need persistence and resilience like books need spines. There’s often as much rejection as celebration in the life of an author – whether that’s of manuscripts, book proposals or idea pitches. Yet, just as the route to publication can be paved with rejection and desperation, so too are opportunities to celebrate abound – whether you write your own book or have your book ghostwritten. Say you venture down the traditional publishing route. If successful, there’s the day an agent agrees to represent you, or the moment you leap from your chair and almost spill coffee over your laptop as
Well, lots of things, obviously. My mother’s maiden name, Colin Cowdrey’s highest first-class score (look it up if you’re interested in accessing my online bank account) and when – and where – I was born, because without these precious bits of information, I wouldn’t be allowed a life in today’s digital world so ferociously fixated on codes and passwords. I’ve also got (somewhere) lots of certificates suggesting that I possess a wealth of academic knowledge, dating back to what were then ‘O’ levels. Which means I can also remember the irritatingly catchy Sam Cooke hit, What A Wonderful World, in
We are gridlocked in a dodgy area of a dodgy city in a country thousands of miles from home. A bus has stopped halfway across a junction 100 yards further up the street and nothing can get by. We haven’t moved for ten minutes and are now surrounded by two lanes of angry traffic, each car jostling for a millimetre of advantage that will take them precisely nowhere. It’s midday on Saturday and the pavement teems with people. I watch one man on the curb performing on-the-spot ear-piercing – his client winces as his lobe is punctured and the new
A first draft never goes straight to print. In my experience the first ‘final’ draft never does, either. This is especially the case when you are working as a team – whether it’s an editorial team, or author and ghostwriter. In nonfiction, a ghost is sometimes working with two, or even three, named authors, so it becomes a small business project. Quite early in my career I learned never to call a version of a document the ‘Final’ draft, because before long you have the ‘Final Final Final draft v5’, and someone else has created a ‘Final Final draft v6’.