It’s a tricky moment, I’ll admit.
That point in your business book when you decide to go out on a limb.
You make a controversial argument which you know some people will disagree with. You go for a radical change of tone throughout. You even want it re-structured in a new way.
It feels scary, doesn’t it? Even though it’s only words on a page.
But if you’re like many business authors, there’s one person you’re most afraid of when you do this: your critic.
Critics are rarely far from our mind when we’re writing a book, because it’s human nature not to want to be, well, criticised. We want everyone to love our work.
But here’s where that approach can take us down the wrong path, because it can lead you to create a book to please your critics. That’s never a good idea, and here’s why.
You’ll hold your best stuff back
It’s likely that the gold in your book isn’t the content that everyone agrees with, but the points that are outside the norm. Attracting some negative comments is therefore inevitable.
But what’s the alternative? Being vanilla?
When you worry too much about what your critics think, you hold back some of the most valuable opinions and advice you could share. Your job as a business author is to stimulate new thought, not to reassure your readers what they assumed all along was correct.
And remember, what one person finds aggravating is what another finds thought-provoking and fascinating. Give your readers enough credit to see the difference, and you may be surprised.
You’ll block your ideas
You know how your best ideas never come when you’re trying to have them? It’s always when you’re doing the washing up or going for a walk. That’s because when your mind is relaxed and free, it allows space for your inner wisdom to surface.
It goes without saying you’re not at your most creative when you’re thinking about what bad things could happen. It clips your wings and saps your soul, denying access to the inspirational thinking your book needs if it’s to connect with others.
So if you run away from risk, it takes the spark out of your book. And with the plethora of dry, dull books out there, that’s definitely not what the world needs.
Your critics won’t be reading your business book anyway
I’ve saved this until last, because whenever I make this point to my ghostwriting and coaching clients, they always laugh.
I remember one speaker who was creating her book with me. She’d been an academic in her previous career, and was now a well-respected speaker to her audience of professionals – not an academic in sight. She was concerned her erstwhile co-workers would look down on her newly non-academic writing style and privately criticise her for it. She could almost see their eyebrows arch and their lips purse. This was blocking her from getting on with it.
When I reminded her she wasn’t writing for them in the first place, and that they’d be unlikely to spend their spare time reading a book that had little to do with their own interests, she relaxed and her ideas flowed again.
Let’s face it, your critics are probably not that interested in what you have to say. And that’s fine.
So now you’re not worried about the critical things people will think, you can focus on the positive. What are you excited about in your book? What elements of it are going to make the most difference to your readers?
Otherwise all you’ll be is your own worst critic. And that doesn’t makes sense at all.