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The Scribe Method by Tucker Max

The best way to write and publish your nonfiction book

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Copyright © 2019 tuCker Max and ZaCh obront All rights reserved. the SCribe Method The Best Way to Write and Publish Your Nonfiction Book iSbn 978-1-5445-1406-2 Hardcover 978-1-5445-1405-5 Ebook

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CONTENTS INTRODUCTION: WHY WRITE A BOOK?............................................................................9 PART 1: PREPARE TO WRITE YOUR BOOK 1.1: THE PROPER EXPECTATIONS FOR WRITING YOUR BOOK .................................................21 1.2: THE SIX FEARS YOU (COULD) FACE WRITING YOUR BOOK .............................................. 25 1.3: HOW TO BEAT YOUR FEARS (AND FINISH YOUR BOOK) ..................................................41 PART 2: POSITION YOUR BOOK 2.1: WHAT IS BOOK POSITIONING (AND WHY DOES IT MATTER)? ............................................ 53 2.2: FIGURE OUT YOUR BOOK OBJECTIVES .................................................................... 57 2.3: FIGURE OUT YOUR AUDIENCE .............................................................................. 63 2.4: FIGURE OUT YOUR BOOK IDEA ............................................................................. 85 2.5: THE NORTH STAR CHECK ....................................................................................91 PART 3: OUTLINE YOUR BOOK 3.1: CREATE YOUR BOOK OUTLINE .............................................................................. 95 3.2: OUTLINE THE INTRODUCTION ............................................................................. 107 3.3: OUTLINE THE CONCLUSION ................................................................................117 PART 4: WRITE YOUR BOOK 4.1: HOW TO CREATE YOUR BOOK WRITING PLAN ............................................................125 4.2: THE SCRIBE GUIDE TO WRITING EFFECTIVE NONFICTION .............................................133 4.3: HOW TO WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT (THE VOMIT METHOD) ............................................139 4.4: HOW TO WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT (THE SCRIBE METHOD) ...........................................149 PART 5: EDIT YOUR BOOK 5.1: HOW TO EDIT YOUR BOOK ................................................................................. 161 5.2: SHOULD YOU ASK PEOPLE FOR FEEDBACK? ............................................................ 175

PART 6: FINISH YOUR MANUSCRIPT 6.1: PICKING THE PERFECT BOOK TITLE .......................................................................183 6.2: WRITE YOUR BOOK DEDICATION ..........................................................................203 6.3: WRITE YOUR BOOK ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................207 6.4: WRITE YOUR BOOK FOREWORD ...........................................................................215 6.5: HOW TO GET INCREDIBLE BLURBS FOR YOUR BOOK ...................................................221 6.6: LOCK IN YOUR MANUSCRIPT: COPYEDITING ............................................................233 PART 7: DESIGN YOUR BOOK 7.1: HOW TO WRITE A BOOK DESCRIPTION THAT SELLS ..................................................... 241 7.2: HOW TO WRITE YOUR AUTHOR BIO (AND WHY IT MATTERS)...........................................253 7.3: HOW TO TAKE THE RIGHT AUTHOR PHOTO ...............................................................267 7.4: HOW TO GET A GREAT BOOK COVER ......................................................................279 7.5: DESIGN YOUR BOOK LAYOUT ..............................................................................293 7.6: HOW TO PROPERLY PRICE YOUR BOOK ..................................................................305 PART 8: PUBLISH YOUR BOOK 8.1: HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT BOOK PUBLISHING OPTION ..................................................313 8.2: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK?................................................331 8.3: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHING BOOK DISTRIBUTION ...............341 8.4: HOW TO WRITE A NONFICTION BOOK PROPOSAL (WITH TEMPLATE) .................................349 CONCLUSION: PUBLISH YOUR BOOK ...........................................................................359 PART 9: REFERENCE MATERIAL 9.1: REALISTIC AND UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR A BOOK ............................................363 9.2: HOW WRITING A BOOK CAN BUILD YOUR BRAND.......................................................375 9.3: HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH YOUR BOOK ...............................................................385 9.4: WHAT’S THE (INTANGIBLE) IMPACT OF A BOOK? .......................................................399 9.5: HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU “GIVE AWAY” IN YOUR BOOK? THE QUESTION OF ADVERTORIAL VS. EDITORIAL CONTENT .......................................................................409 9.6: HOW MUCH OF YOUR STORY SHOULD BE IN YOUR BOOK? ............................................415 9.7: DON’T PUT EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IN ONE BOOK .................................................... 421 9.8: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BOOK CHAPTERS ..........................................425 9.9: HOW DO YOU BEAT WRITER’S BLOCK? ................................................................... 431 9.10: THE ONLY SOFTWARE YOU NEED TO WRITE A BOOK IS ALREADY ON YOUR COMPUTER ..........437 9.11: HOW PEOPLE REALLY JUDGE A BOOK ...................................................................443 ABOUT THE AUTHORS ............................................................................................449

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INTRODUCTION Why WriTE A BOOk? I know why you want to write a book. Maybe not literally, of course. I’m going to make an educated guess about why you want to write a book. If I’m correct in my guess—it means this is the perfect book for you. If I’m wrong in my guess—then I just saved you a lot of time. You can skip this book; it’s not right for you. Here’s my guess. See if it resonates: You had a problem. It was probably a difficult problem for you. You suffered because of it. This problem might have even defined you as a person—at least for a while. You spent time, energy, and effort on it, and maybe even dedicated your career to solving it. Why WriTE A BOOk? · 9

Finally, after a lot of struggle and work, you solved your problem. You found a solution, and you made your life better. But you didn’t just find the solution to this problem, you mastered it. You’re great at implementing this solution. Yes, there are times you doubt yourself—like we all do—but part of you is even a little proud of yourself and what you’ve accomplished. You know some things (at least about this problem). Although you’ve never written a book before, you keep coming back to the idea of writing one, for two main reasons: 1. You want to share your hard-earned knowledge to help people solve the same problem you used to have. You want to give this wisdom back to others, so it can impact them. Basically, you want to help people through your book. 2. You want some recognition for what you did. I am not implying that recognition is bad—quite the opposite. It is natural and right to want your peers and family and friends to know the real you and see what you’ve done. And it’s normal to hope this recogni- tion will actually help you in some way as well, probably in your career (and maybe even in your personal life, too). I’d bet you’ve been thinking about writing a book for a while. You’ve probably had people saying, “you should write a book” to you long before now. But you didn’t acknowledge it, because the next step—writing the book—was too scary. After all, you don’t know where to start, or how to structure your book, or if your book idea is good enough, or if you have enough to say, or if anyone will care once you write it. And there’s the worst fear of all, the one you don’t want to talk about, but always lingers. 10 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

What if you write a bad book? You might have even started writing the book at some point, but you stopped. You probably had some good momentum at first, and found it really rewarding to get your ideas out of your head. You thought about how people would receive the book, maybe pictured the eventual praise in your future. But you hit an obstacle, and it stalled you. It brought up all your self-doubt and anxiety, and without a plan to get past that obstacle (or obstacles), you lost your momentum, and then you stopped. It’s probably frustrating that you aren’t writing your book. You see other people—some of them who don’t even know as much as you about your subject—who did write their books, who have credibil- ity and authority in their field, who are getting increased visibility, who have more clients and more opportunities, all from their book. And most of all, you see the impact their books have on people. And you know you can have that same impact—if you could get your book done. Your book might not save the world, but it can change some people’s lives for the better…if only you could get it to them. Does this sound familiar? Does it describe you? If so, this is the perfect book for you. It was written specifically for people just like you, as you embark on your journey to writing and publishing your book. If you follow the steps, it will get you there. If this doesn’t describe you, then like I said, this book probably isn’t right for you, and you can put it down and move on to another Why WriTE A BOOk? · 11

book that is better suited for you (if this story has nothing to do with you, yet you’ve already paid for it, then email me directly and I will give you your money back: [email protected]. I’m totally serious). Let’s say you read this book, you follow the instructions, you put in the work, you conquer your fears, you write a book you are proud of, and you get it published. What happens when you actually finish the book? As much as I’d love to tell you that you sell a million copies and hit every bestseller list and become famous…we both know that’s a fantasy. Yes, it happens for a small number of people, but so does winning the lottery. You can’t plan on it or expect it. But that’s OK, because the reality of what actually happens is pretty cool. I know; I’ve seen it happen to literally thousands of authors. It usually works something like this: You start to “get it” when you see the pre-order page on Amazon. Your name, your book, on Amazon, next to all the other books and authors you respect and look up to. You start to get impatient, you begin to hope…and then finally, you get the first copy in the mail. It’s not like holding your new baby, but damn, it feels great. You created this. It’s a part of who you are. It’s permanent. It’s out in the world. It’s a record of what you know, what value you have given to others, what you’ve left behind in the world, and the impact you’ve made. It’s proof of what you did to make the world better. 12 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

First, your friends and family see it. They get excited, they praise you, they tell you how proud they are. You might hate to admit it, but even now your parents’ (and family’s) praise means way more than you expected that it would. And in some cases, they finally understand what it is you do, and why it matters. Then your coworkers, peers, and professional network see it. And they get almost as excited as your friends and family. And that praise is also really cool, and you enjoy it far more than you anticipated. Then all of a sudden…people start talking to you about the book. About your ideas. People who read the book and want to discuss it with you, because you’re the author. Then, people start to introduce you as “author.” Yeah, you are one, but still…it feels weird. Then you start to get reviews, posted online…from people you don’t even know. About your book. And they really like it, and they talk about how much of an impact it made on their life. Then, clients start coming to you…because of your book. They already know who you are, how you work, and what you believe. And you don’t need to sell them anymore. They sign because they were so impressed with the book, they already know they want to work with you. Then, you get requests to speak. Some of them even want to pay you. And you go speak, and people look at you differently. They listen when you talk, they applaud when you are done, and they want to talk to you afterward. Then, media inquiries. You do a few podcasts. The host wants to talk to you about the ideas in your book. People talk to you about a podcast they heard you on, or a blog post they read about you in. Why WriTE A BOOk? · 13

Then, all kinds of new opportunities come in that you honestly never would have guessed. Things that weren’t even on your radar before the book are now coming to you. Requests for consulting, for proposals, job offers—all kinds of things you didn’t even realize were out there. And of course, more and more clients. Then, when it settles down and you have reached a new level that has become normal to you, you’re used to being called an author and you realize something…you see yourself differently. You now realize that you really did have something important to contribute, and that people you don’t even know have had their lives changed for the better because you put your knowledge and your story down in a book. You know for sure that your work matters to people. You know you have left a legacy behind that can’t ever be taken away. I’ve seen this exact scenario play out hundreds upon hundreds of times. Scribe’s site is bursting with stories and videos of real authors tell- ing stories just like this. This story can be yours. It’s possible…you just have to follow the instructions in this book. It won’t be easy, it will take a lot of effort, but it’s there for the taking. You just have to do it. 14 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

WHAT THIS BOOK WILL TEACH YOU In this book, we teach you everything you need to know to make sure you write a great book—one that shares your story and your knowledge, impacts readers’ lives, and cements your legacy: • How to pick the perfect book topic, one that both displays your knowledge and impacts the reader’s life. • Make sure there will be an audience waiting to buy your book, before you write it. • Write a book to build your brand. • Ensure your book gets you an ROI. • Set yourself up for success before you even start writing your book. • Figure out how much of your story should be in your book. • Exactly how to structure your book so you get it correct, but it’s also easy for you to write. • What the most common writing obstacles are, and how to beat them. • Once you start writing, how to make sure your audience will love your book. • Editing techniques to ensure your book sounds exactly right. • Create the motivation and inspiration, on command, to sit down and write every day. • Find the perfect book title. • Price your book to maximize both sales and impact. • Exactly who to use to help publish your book. • The key to writing book marketing copy that sells. • Getting to an amazing book cover. • And of course, the most important thing you can do to make your book a success, that most authors get wrong. WHAT THIS BOOK WILL NOT TEACH YOU There are a lot of books about how to write and publish a book, and to be honest, most of them aren’t good. This by itself is no big deal; the problem is that those books only sell because they make Why WriTE A BOOk? · 15

all kinds of unrealistic promises and exaggerated claims. Let me be very clear about what this book will not get you, so you don’t confuse us with them: • You won’t learn an easy hack to write your book in a week, or a month. Any book you can write that fast is going to be terrible. Books are hard, and take time—that’s why they’re valuable. • You aren’t going to learn how to become a millionaire in the first month. A book is an important part of building your business or brand, but it’s never the big moneymaker by itself. • You won’t learn how to become famous. Your book will help you be more well known in good ways to the people you care about, but TMZ won’t be camped outside your house looking to get pictures (you don’t want that anyway). • You won’t learn how to get a TED talk (but your book might help you get a TEDx talk). • You won’t learn the secret to being a media darling, and have Oprah and Ellen knocking down your door (but you will defi- nitely learn how to get more media). • You won’t learn how to solve all your problems with a book. No snake oil here, sorry. I know, you probably didn’t expect any of that anyway. Just making sure I set expectations properly for this book (which I do in even more depth in the first chapter). WHY LISTEN TO ME? Because I know how to write, publish, and market books. My name is Tucker Max. I co-founded Scribe (along with the co-author of this book, Zach Obront), and I’m the primary author of this book. I’ve written four New York Times Best Sellers, three of which hit #1. These four books have combined to spend almost ten years 16 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

on the best seller list, and have sold more than 4.5 million copies worldwide (as of 2019). I’m one of four people, along with Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Lewis, and Brené Brown, who’s had three books on the nonfiction New York Times Best Seller list at one time. I was named to Time Magazine’s Most Influential People list, and a movie was made about one of my books. Before founding my current company, I worked with authors like Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene, Peter Thiel, James Altucher, Dave Asprey, Seth Godin, and dozens of others on their books. All told, I’ve been directly involved in writing, editing, publishing, or marketing over twenty-two New York Times or Wall Street Jour- nal Best Sellers, that have combined to sell over 20 million copies worldwide. Many of those books were written and published using this exact method. At Scribe—in only five years—we’ve worked with 1200+ authors, and the process I am about to detail for you comes directly from the experience of working with them. We’ve published some of the biggest hits and best-selling books of the past five years using this exact process. Literally everything you will read in this book has been tested and proven to work, both at the highest levels of writing and publishing, and with regular people like you who are not professional writers. I’m not saying this to brag, just to make a simple point: you’re in good hands. If the story I just told resonated, this is the right book for you. Let’s get started. Why WriTE A BOOk? · 17

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1.1 ThE PrOPEr ExPECTATiONS fOr WriTiNg yOUr BOOk “The art of good decision-making is looking forward to and celebrating the tradeoffs, not pretending they don’t exist.” —Seth godin Before you start writing your book, let’s talk about what can you expect during your journey. At Scribe, we’ve helped over 1,200 authors write their books (as of summer 2019), and probably the #1 thing that separates those who finish their books from those who do not is having the proper expectations going in. Why? Because writing a book is hard, and if you’re not prepared for that fact, you’re far more likely to stall, and even quit. But if you know the difficulty of what’s coming, you can mentally prepare to get past those obstacles when they come (and they will). These are the major expectations you should have as you write your book: ThE PrOPEr ExPECTATiONS fOr WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 21

1. EXPECT THIS TO BE HARD Anyone who tells you that writing a book is easy is either trying to sell you something, has never written a book, or writes really bad books. Books are hard to write. And writing a good book is even harder. To overcome this, you’ll need to work hard. Yes, this should be obvious, but there are many people who seem to think, if only sub- consciously, that there is some “trick” to make writing your book easier. There’s not. There is no hack or trick or workaround. If you want to write a good book, then expect that it will require hard work from you. 2. EXPECT TO GET TIRED Writing is tiring (especially if you do it correctly). Expect to get tired when you write, and expect that it will drain you. Make sure to take the steps you need to be both rested and energized when you write. I can’t tell you precisely what to do for proper self-care; that all depends on you. Maybe going for a walk with your dog is fine, maybe you need to get more sleep. The point is not the details; the point is to know it’s coming and do what you need to in order to prepare—and actually do it. 22 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

3. EXPECT TO BE CONFUSED Writing a book is inherently confusing. It is not easy to properly position and structure a book, not to mention the actual writing. On top of that, I will tell you to do things you’ve probably never heard before, or give advice that seems counterintuitive. But what you’ll find as you work the Scribe Method is that while some of the things we recommend might seem unusual, they actu- ally WORK really well—which is ultimately what matters the most. If you approach the instructions like Daniel did in The Karate Kid, you’ll be great. If you didn’t see the movie, in The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi had Daniel do a bunch of isolated tasks that seemed to have nothing to do with karate: painting fences, waxing cars, etc. Daniel got frustrated and annoyed. But then, when he started doing karate, he realized that those seemingly unconnected movements formed the basis for karate. This book will be similar. The exercises I put you through might seem disjointed at first, but no effort is wasted. The exercises are designed to build your book efficiently from the ground up, the first time—as long as you have the discipline to walk through them and do them right, it’ll work. 4. EXPECT TO FEEL OVERWHELMED AT TIMES There is a lot coming. It will be like drinking from a firehose. You WILL feel overwhelmed at times. But understand this: overwhelm is NOT KNOWING WHAT TO DO NEXT—which is exactly why you are reading this book. We solve this for you. If you follow along and do what we say, you will ALWAYS know what to do next. We’ve made this process so that there are no surprises. ThE PrOPEr ExPECTATiONS fOr WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 23

5. EXPECT TO BE EMOTIONALLY UNCOMFORTABLE (AND MAYBE AFRAID) This is a big one. Writing a book will unquestionably push you emo- tionally, and expose fears and anxieties. That is never easy, and never fun, but if you want to write a book, it’s almost certainly going to be a necessity (don’t worry, we will tell you what fears are coming and how to deal with them). Do not discount this or minimize it. Fear is coming, and if you don’t deal with it properly, it becomes the book killer. This fear is normal and OK to have; you need to expect it and then learn to deal with it. In fact, fear is such a big deal, it is the whole next chapter. “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” —theodore rooSevelt REFERENCE: If you want to know what to expect to get from your book, read Reference piece 9.1: Realistic and Unrealistic Expecta- tions for a Book. 24 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

1.2 ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk “Your inward conflicts express themselves in outward disasters.” —kriShnaMurti Now that you’re going to become an author, you’ll have to deal with all the fears and anxieties that come with writing. You’re not alone. All authors start where you are right now. We start insecure, unsure, and afraid. We start with fear, and sometimes even terror, gripping us. And sadly, for some authors, these fears stop them from ever writ- ing their book at all. I’ve been writing professionally for fifteen years, and the fears I’m about to detail are the same ones I’ve had to deal with in the past (and still deal with on a day-to-day basis). This chapter will detail the common author fears, explain how they are destructive to books, and provide insight into how you ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 25

can reframe those fears to help you. You may not have every one of the six I list below, but chances are you will deal with at least four at some point in the process. [In the next chapter, I will show you a specific set of tactics for how to deal with the fears you face as you write, so you can finish your book.] FEAR: “I DON’T HAVE A BOOK IN ME.” ALTERNATE EXPRESSIONS OF THIS FEAR: • “I’m afraid there’s no book in me.” • “I’m afraid I don’t have anything to say.” • “What if I’m not an author?” • “Who am I to write a book?” HOW THIS FEAR WILL IMPACT YOUR BOOK It’s very common for an author to be afraid that they don’t have the knowledge in them to write a book. Or even worse, that they don’t deserve to be an author. For most people, this is a version of what’s referred to as Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is when someone—even a very accomplished person with a lot of experience and credentials—believes they don’t actually know what everyone thinks they know. They believe their ideas are either wrong or invalid, or that everyone already knows what they know. People with Imposter Syndrome have this idea in their heads that everyone else has it figured out, but they are the imposter. In the most extreme cases, Imposter Syndrome is when authors feel that their book will expose them as frauds or as fakers. 26 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

EXAMPLE OF AN AUTHOR WITH THIS FEAR We worked with a consultant, Jonathan Dison, on his book, The Consulting Economy. He’s a management consultant who had his own consulting firm that was doing very well. Hundreds of people he’d worked with throughout the years had asked him to write a book, one that would detail the method he used to help them tran- sition from corporate employee to independent consultant. Despite all these people asking him for the book, he put it off because he didn’t believe he was enough of an expert to write a book. Even though he literally made the life-changing transition himself, and had coached hundreds of people through it—at some level he didn’t believe he actually knew anything. I can’t tell you how many times Jonathan said, “Tucker, I have no idea what I’m doing.” I would then walk him through how he helped people transition from corporate employee to independent consultant. I had him explain his process to me, and then tell me about the people he’d helped, and have him tell me what they told him about his advice (always gushing praise). I know, it’s funny to laugh at this from a distance—even Jonathan laughs at it now, but this was a real issue for him when he was beginning his book. That’s what’s so great about this fear—it’s usually easy to under- stand if it’s based in reality. Just ask yourself: are people coming to you and asking you for, or paying you for, your knowledge? If so, then you clearly have a book in you, as long as the book is just you sharing that knowledge with people. You can overcome your Imposter Syndrome by focusing on that fact alone. ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 27

FEAR: “I’M AFRAID MY BOOK ISN’T ORIGINAL ENOUGH.” ALTERNATE EXPRESSIONS OF THIS FEAR: • “I don’t think I have anything new to say.” • “Everything I have to say is stuff everyone already knows.” • “I’m afraid this has already been said.” • “My book won’t be any different from other books on this topic.” HOW THIS FEAR WILL IMPACT YOUR BOOK The funny thing with Jonathan Dison (from the example above) is that once he admitted that he knew something, he’d say, “But this is obvious, no one needs to be told this!” This is a common feeling. And it’s almost always wrong. Many authors have the idea that a valid book must have a new insight that no one has ever considered. That’s ridiculous. Very few books are profoundly original—and the few that are tend not to be that valuable (because true originality demands that the idea be far too esoteric to be useful for most people). A book is valuable if the knowledge within it is accessible and usable to the audience. If you can write a book on a deeply covered topic, providing a unique perspective that sheds new light on the subject and helps your audience understand something they were missing, that is very valuable. Even if you feel you don’t have a brand-new perspective on the subject, if you have a unique voice and perspective around key concepts, tailored for your audience, and can curate old ideas in a new way, you will help them see old concepts in a way that finally clicks for them. 28 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

No reader cares if the idea is new or old. They only care if it’s USEFUL TO THEM. EXAMPLE OF AN AUTHOR WITH THIS FEAR My favorite example of this is Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold. How many business books are there on meetings? According to Amazon, there are 50,000. Surely if there was one book that did not need to be written, it was this one, right? That’s what Cameron thought at first. We walked through what he knew, and helped him realize that though his methodology for meetings had no single insight that was truly original, the way that he combined all his insights and presented a complete plan for how to run a meeting was deeply useful to everyone he coached and taught. With 105 reviews and 45,000 copies sold, it’s obvious that his take is engaging with people in a way that none of the other books on meetings have. ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 29

That’s why Meetings Suck has done so well—because it explained a lot of old ideas in a way that no one else had before. This is a key aspect of the Scribe Method (which we’ll get into in detail soon). We have our authors look deeply at who derives value from their knowledge, which helps the author define their audi- ence. Once they know their audience, they can then think, “What did I teach those people that they found valuable to their lives?” This will force you to clearly define your audience and the value that you are providing to them, thus ensuring that your fear doesn’t come true. FEAR: “I’M AFRAID MY BOOK WON’T BE GOOD ENOUGH.” ALTERNATE EXPRESSIONS OF THIS FEAR: • “I’m afraid my book won’t be perfect.” • “I’m afraid I put too much in.” • “I’m afraid I didn’t put in enough.” • “I’m afraid I’m going to forget everything I want to say.” • “I’m afraid of leaving things out.” HOW THIS FEAR WILL IMPACT YOUR BOOK This fear is almost always perfectionism. How is perfectionism related to fear? As the author dives into the book, they become obsessed with every detail. They fret over every word, every punctuation mark, and every phrasing. Books can get stuck here in various ways: 1. The author will try to put everything they know into the book, and this causes the book to bloat and become unmanageable. 2. The author won’t stick to a subject and will jump around to dif- ferent ideas. 30 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

3. The author’s perfectionism becomes an excuse to delay or avoid actually working on the book. 4. The author edits and adds content in never-ending cycles, spin- ning in circles and never actually finishing the book. This is not about trying to make the book as good as possible. Exces- sive obsession with every detail—beyond the point of reason—is a way of masking a fear that the book is not good enough. Authors will get stuck in one of the perfectionism rabbit holes so they can avoid publishing the book. EXAMPLE OF AN AUTHOR WITH THIS FEAR Deb Gabor is a great example of this. Deb is a brilliant brand strate- gist. She’s worked with companies like Dell, NBC, and Microsoft on their branding strategy, and she wrote a book called Branding Is Sex, about how companies can use branding in new and innovative ways. She started the book confident in her knowledge and the value of the book to her readers. But as she moved further into the writing process, insecurity took hold. She wondered if anyone would find it valuable, and to compensate, she put more and more information into it. As a result, the book, without any conscious intent, became far too big and unwieldy. Because she was trying to put everything she knew into the book, instead of just focusing on what her audience valued and wanted to know, she ended up with a book that was way too long. In order to compensate for her insecurity, she turned to perfectionism, and it almost ruined her book. Thankfully, Deb is smart and self-aware, and once we walked her through what she was doing, she recognized it and was able to get her book refocused and sharply defined. Another thing we explained to Deb is the saying that “art is never done, it’s only abandoned.” The point is that being perfect is lit- ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 31

erally impossible. All you can do is the very best job you can right now, and then put it out to help your audience, and you’re done. That’s the good thing about this fear: it forces you to define both your audience’s needs very specifically, and how your book meets them. By using this fear productively, you force yourself to focus exclusively on the audience and what they want—and stop thinking about yourself, and how you look. This enables you to write a better book, one that gives the audience what they are looking for, and thus gets you what you want. FEAR: “I’M AFRAID NO ONE WILL CARE ABOUT MY BOOK.” ALTERNATE EXPRESSIONS OF THIS FEAR: • “What if no one reads it?” • “What if there is no audience?” • “What if my book doesn’t impact anyone?” • “What if this is a waste of my time and effort?” • “I’ll be embarrassed if people criticize my book.” HOW THIS FEAR WILL IMPACT YOUR BOOK This is a pretty simple fear, and it generally comes up in people who are trying to find a way to avoid other deeper fears (like the “looking stupid” fear, covered below). Usually, this fear manifests by an author convincing themselves that no one will care about their book. Paradoxically, this is almost always suffered by the authors who have the books that are most impactful on others (the authors who should worry about this, almost never do—such is life, right?). EXAMPLE OF AN AUTHOR WITH THIS FEAR Dr. Douglas Brackmann grew up with ADHD and was told his 32 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

whole life that he has a disability. He refused to see it that way. He spent his life seeking to understand where ADHD comes from (it’s actually genetic and serves an adaptive purpose) and how to utilize the energy and focus the condition creates to improve his life. He solved this issue in his life, and then started training the highest performers—entrepreneurs, CEOs, pro athletes, inventors, and Navy SEALs—to learn how to perform even better using the tech- niques he had to learn to compensate for his ADHD. But when it came time to write a book, he wasn’t sure anyone would care. Think about that for a second: he was ALREADY training some of the highest performers in the world, but he still wasn’t sure that anyone would care about his book? This sort of thing happens because when an author knows their subject so well, they often think it’s obvious or easy, and so they discount their knowledge. They forget that the exact people they’re writing for do not have this knowledge—and are often desperate for it. In Dr. Brackmann’s case, this happened. Look at the Amazon Reviews: The tools that Dr. Brackmann gave me, all of which you will find in his book, allowed me to find inner peace and happiness and realize my true potential…I could recognize my soul again, lift myself up and design the life I had always dreamed of. Dr. Brackmann helped me understand how my mind worked and helped me harness the Driven characteristics I had so that in less than 1 year I could build a 7 figure business with no outside help, find the girl of my dreams, and pursue a life of mastery in many different areas. I highly recommend this book for anyone that has a desire to find more peace while fulfilling their potential. ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 33

This fear can turn into motivation if you use it right. If you’re afraid no one will care, then find someone in real life who does care about what you have to say, teach them what you know, and then look at the transformation in their life. If you can see that, see the impact it makes on them, then it should be much easier to finish your book, because it’s no longer about you—it’s about them and other people like them. FEAR: “I’M AFRAID MY BOOK WILL UPSET PEOPLE.” ALTERNATE EXPRESSIONS OF THIS FEAR: • “I’m afraid this book is going to make someone mad.” • “I’m afraid of being judged.” • “I don’t want my book to upset my current clients.” • “I can’t say these things about people.” • “What if my friends read it and hate it?” • “What if I sound bitchy?” HOW THIS FEAR WILL IMPACT YOUR BOOK This fear is a major book killer. The fear of judgment is crippling to many authors, and prevents them from either writing their book, or from writing the book that they really want to write, or telling the stories they want to tell in their book. Here’s the simple fact about books: if no one at all disagrees with what you are saying, then you aren’t saying anything worth putting in a book. If I wrote a book about how the sky is blue, why would anyone care? Everyone already knows that. A book should make new claims, or reframe old information, or take a position that stands in opposi- tion to conventional wisdom, or teach something new or different or contrary. 34 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

That’s the entire point of a book—to help people find a new way to think about something or do something. Let me say it again: It’s impossible to write a good book without taking some kind of risk, and saying something that someone, somewhere, might disagree with. EXAMPLE OF AN AUTHOR WITH THIS FEAR Shannon Miles is a great example of this. Shannon wrote The Third Option, a book that explains how women do not have to choose between a career and a family, that they can actually create a life that gives them both. There are many women who will claim that a woman’s career should come first, and many others who will say family must come first. Shannon took the position that neither is true, that you can have both—which is upsetting to both sides. Because Shannon knew that she was going to be heavily criticized and attacked from both sides, she hesitated about whether to write her book at all. Once she made the decision to move forward, she still found herself censoring her views and holding back. Eventually Shannon got past this worry. She focused not on her- self, but on her reader, and realized that by withholding her views or stories, she was not serving them; she was failing them—and betraying herself. As a result, she wrote a book that has been extraordinarily well- received. She did get some negative feedback of course, but it was overwhelmed by all the positive response and thanks from women who felt like she understood and spoke to them in a way no one else had. It’s OK to admit you feel bad when people say bad things about ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 35

you. Even if what they say is wrong and unfair, and even if they are straight up lying about you—that still hurts. It’s OK to admit it, and it’s OK to feel all the terrible feelings that come with that. The human brain is designed such that it inter- prets social violence almost exactly the same as physical violence. It hurts when people attack you, and I will never tell you to block it out and pretend it doesn’t bother you. That doesn’t work. But, if this is a fear you are facing, you have the option to see it as a gift. If there are people who will criticize your position, that can force you to examine it from all angles and make sure your arguments are rock solid. Also, opposition helps you find and galvanize your own audience of people, like Shannon did. If there are loud and angry people on only one side of a debate, it probably means the other side simply does not have a spokesperson. Your book puts you in that role. Also, use this fear to make sure you are being fair to people and other arguments. It’s okay to be conscious about the words you use and how they impact people. This does not mean you water down your position—in fact, your argument is strengthened when it is considerate of alternate viewpoints. Finally, remember the iconic quote about this by Steven Pressfield: Making a judgment, taking a stand and then acting against an injustice or acting to support excellence is the stuff of the everyman hero. If you are an aspiring artist and you wish to avoid “judgments,” you’ll find that you have nothing to say. 36 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

FEAR: “I’M AFRAID MY BOOK WILL MAKE ME LOOK STUPID.” ALTERNATE EXPRESSIONS OF THIS FEAR: • “I’m afraid I’m going to look stupid.” • “What if I get all one-star reviews?” • “What if everyone who reads it, hates it?” • “What will people think if there’s a typo?” • “I’m afraid something will be wrong with my book, and I’ll look stupid to everyone I know.” HOW THIS FEAR WILL IMPACT YOUR BOOK The biggest unspoken fear that I believe (virtually) every author has is that they will embarrass themselves. I saved this for last because almost every fear above boils down to this one. This fear is very rational. For many professionals, writing a bad book is actually worse than writing no book at all. This is because for someone with a certain level of status, a bad book will hurt their career. For others, it goes even further. For some, the book is very attached to their identity. They see the book as an extension of themselves, and they are worried that if the book isn’t well received, then it means they will personally look bad. No one wants to look flawed to their peers, especially with something as personal as a book. This fear can get so bad, people will literally forego the tens of thou- sands of dollars they pay us to help them write a book—all because they’re afraid to hit the final “publish my book” button. I’m not exaggerating at all. We have authors who will work for months, do all the difficult editing and revisions, go through the entire publishing process, and then, when there is literally nothing left to do besides give the final approval, will completely ghost on us. They can’t face their fear that the book isn’t good, so they avoid even talking about it. ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 37

EXAMPLE OF AN AUTHOR WITH THIS FEAR Every author we’ve ever worked with—without exception—has had some version of this fear (and I’ve had this fear as well). Joey Coleman is my favorite example. He even wrote about his fear in his book, Never Lose a Customer Again: But not long after that, I started to doubt myself and I began to ques- tion my decision to write a book. Did I really have a good enough message that could carry an entire book? Would the readers find as much value in the eight-phase process as my clients had over the last twenty years? Would I be able to explain all the nuances of the framework properly in three hundred pages? Was I going to make myself look stupid? As these thoughts of fear, doubt, and uncertainty flooded my mind, I grew distant. I started rescheduling planned phone calls with the team, pushing them off for both real and fabricated reasons alike. I used any excuse I could think of that would allow me to delay the next step in the process. This went on for several months until one night when my cell phone rang unexpectedly. The caller ID indicated it was Tucker’s cell phone, and a quick mental scan of my calendar let me know this was an unex- pected call. I decided to answer anyway. Tucker got me to open up, admit that I was having feelings of remorse and regret, and assured me that the emotions I was feeling were natu- ral for any author. He told me a story about how he felt the same way when he released his first major book, which ironically enough went 38 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

on to be a New York Times bestseller, selling more than a million copies worldwide since its release. Tucker helped me see that I did indeed have a book in me and that he believed it would be valuable to many people. He persuaded me to trust the process, come back into the fold, and continue the work. That is how powerful buyer’s remorse is. Even though I deeply understood the perils of the cognitive dissonance that marks this feeling, even though I teach this to companies, I could not separate myself from these emotions when I was in that position. Oops—I’m human too. Remember how I told you that fear is not in and of itself a bad thing? If you allow the fear to focus you and become motivation to focus and work hard, then it can help you. It can be fuel. It can help ensure you do everything necessary to create the best book possible. But what about when that fear becomes overwhelming? When it seems like your fear—any of these fears—is too much? What then? The next chapter deals with this exact question: how can you handle your fears once they come up and won’t go away? ThE Six fEArS yOU (COUlD) fACE WriTiNg yOUr BOOk · 39

The Scribe Method by Tucker Max - Page 40

1.3 hOW TO BEAT yOUr fEArS (AND fiNiSh yOUr BOOk) “Life is growth. You grow or you die.” —phil knight ALL AUTHORS FACE FEAR At some point and to some level, you’re going to be afraid of writing your book. Don’t feel bad. EVERY author feels the same way (including me). I’ve written seven books (so far) but should have written ten (maybe more). I lost at least three books to fear. I get it. I’ve been there. It’s an awful feeling to know I had these books in me and never got to them, only because I was afraid to write them. hOW TO BEAT yOUr fEArS (AND fiNiSh yOUr BOOk) · 41

THE PURPOSE OF FEAR The first thing to remember about fear is that it’s not necessarily bad. Fear serves a purpose. On a primal level, fear is an adaptive response that helps us survive by motivating us to protect ourselves from danger. It is both natural and helpful in many cases. You evolved to fear things that can hurt you, and fear works to help keep you safe. The problem with fear is when you let small or irrational fears stop you from doing something you should be doing. Then fear is destructive, not protective. Some of the fears you face will make sense, while others will seem ridiculous if you rationally analyze them. That’s normal. Fears aren’t always rational (nor are they intended to be). Don’t shame yourself if you feel any of the fears listed, even if you think they are irrational. Even if they are irrational, the feeling of fear is still real, and you have to address it in order to move forward with your book. Don’t beat yourself up if fear is holding you back. It’s beaten me before, as it’s beaten almost every author at some point or another. HOW TO BEAT YOUR FEARS You can win this fight against fear. How do you do it? And, even more importantly, how do you prevent this fear in the future? You train your emotional brain to reframe the fear you feel and then use it as fuel to action, instead of inaction. I’m going to show you the specific, step-by-step method we use to help our authors overcome their fear, but first, let’s actually reframe what fear is. 42 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

These are the symptoms of anxiety: 1. Heart rate raises (adrenaline increase) 2. Fight or flight response kicks in, you get jittery, break out into a cold sweat (cortisol surge) 3. You have tunnel vision, can’t see or think beyond your fear (nor- epinephrine increase) These are the symptoms of excitement: 1. Heart rate raises (adrenaline increase) 2. Fight or flight response kicks in, you get jittery, break out into a cold sweat (cortisol surge) 3. You have tunnel vision, can’t see or think beyond your excite- ment (norepinephrine increase) Fear is excitement…with a negative frame. Excitement is fear…with a positive frame. Think of a roller coaster. Some people will spend hundreds of dol- lars and hours waiting in line to ride the scariest one they can find. Other people will have a panic attack at the thought of going on one. Same ride. Just a different frame. Now are you starting to see how to beat your fear? Here are the steps to use to do it: STEP 1: LIST ALL YOUR FEARS Ask yourself, what are you afraid might happen if you write a book? Write down the fears you are feeling. Write down every fear or anxiety. hOW TO BEAT yOUr fEArS (AND fiNiSh yOUr BOOk) · 43

Don’t run from, deny, or minimize your fears. Really take a moment and pause to think about ALL your fears. Recognize them, acknowledge them, and identify them. If you are having a hard time articulating your fears, the last chapter discussed the most common fears; that should be a pretty good guide. Don’t worry if this list is long. It should have at least a few fears, and if it has a bunch, then so be it. In fact, the more you list (that are true), the better. That means you are being honest with yourself. STEP 2: ASK YOURSELF, “IS THIS POSSIBLE?” For each fear, ask yourself: “Is this fear possible? Is there any chance it will come to pass?” Many times people are anxious about vague and undefined fears. If that’s the case, forcing yourself to name the fear and realize it’s not even possible at all can make it go away. For example, we have authors who work with us that say, “I’m afraid that I’ll write this book but that I won’t be able to get it published.” That’s not a realistic fear. They’ve paid us to do the publishing, we are going to do it. This being said, most fears will be possible, even if only a small possibility. For example, continuing with the above example, you could say instead, “I’m afraid that I’ll write this book and I will look bad, and it will hurt my professional reputation.” That’s a real fear with real consequences—if you write a bad book, you will look bad. Yes, it is highly unlikely that the book will be bad, but it is possible. 44 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

For fears that are impossible, disregard and cross them off the list. For the ones that could possibly come to pass, keep going. STEP 3: ASK YOURSELF, “IF THIS FEAR CAME TO PASS, WHAT WOULD THE CONSEQUENCES BE?” It’s okay to think of the worst-case scenario here. In fact, it’s pref- erable. If you articulate the worst thing that could happen, then you at least know what it is and can now move forward with a clear understanding of what there is to lose. There is nothing wrong with this—being realistic is a big part of defeating fear, so write down what the consequences are. For some of the fears, the consequences will be minor. For example, if the fear is “I’m afraid I sound bitchy,” the consequences of that are probably benign. For other fears, the consequences could be larger. For example, if the fear is, “I’m afraid that I’ll write this book and I will look bad, and it will hurt my professional reputation,” the consequences might be substantial. And don’t shortchange the impact of the consequence. If you are afraid of something like this happening: “I will write a bad book and people will think I’m stupid and my company will fail, and I’ll be a joke and go broke. I’ll lose my house and my family, and I’ll go hungry and die cold and alone on the streets,” then write it out. Whatever you fear the consequences might be, write them down. STEP 4: ASK YOURSELF, “WHEN I WRITE MY BOOK, WHAT BENEFIT WILL I GET FOR MYSELF?” You could say, “If I write my book, then I will increase my authority hOW TO BEAT yOUr fEArS (AND fiNiSh yOUr BOOk) · 45

and visibility in my field, get more speaking gigs, and be able to grow my business.” Note: You’re going to specifically define these benefits as the very next part of the process, but put something down now, even if you come back and refine them later. Then speak these benefits out loud, making sure to frame yourself as excited about them. Literally say, “YOU should be excited, because this book will get YOU increased authority, additional speaking, and a bigger business.” Do it three times. And you MUST say it OUT LOUD. And make sure to phrase it as you, talking to yourself. I know, this sounds hokey, but saying it out loud has a very different impact on you than just thinking it. Without going too deep into the psychological explanation, saying it out loud makes it more real to your brain. [If you want to know why saying this out loud makes such a dif- ference, Google “inner speech of behavioral regulation” or “Von Restorff effect.” Warning: these will take you down a serious rabbit hole.] STEP 5: ASK YOURSELF, “WHO’S HELPED BY YOUR BOOK, AND WHAT DO THEY GET?” Did you notice a trend with the fears you mentioned? What did they all have in common? It’s actually pretty simple: All fear is selfish. 46 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

When you’re afraid, you are focused only on yourself and your own needs. Fear puts you into survival mode. Fear makes it impossible to see outside of yourself. Fear traps you inside yourself. I don’t mean this to say selfishness is bad. It’s not. Like fear, selfish- ness has its place in your life. I say this to help you refocus on a main reason you probably want to write your book: to give something back, and make an impact on other people. Imagine the person you will be helping. Think of them very spe- cifically. Imagine the pain they are in now. Feel the suffering they have because they haven’t read your book. How much of a difference will your knowledge make in their lives? Your book is important to them. It matters to their lives. That’s why you are writing it. They need your book. Think about how much they need the knowledge you have. Imagine your audience after they’ve read your book. What will their lives be like then? How much better will they be because of your book? Connect with that feeling. Can you do it—for them? You want to write your book to help other people solve a problem that you used to have, one that’s very painful to you. Helping those people is a big part of your motivation. And picturing those people in need, and you letting them down if you do not write your book, is a very powerful motivator. Using this motivation turns out to be the ultimate fear-buster: most people who can’t be courageous for themselves can easily be courageous for other people. And of course, if you just think about who your book is intended to help, you can focus on them. And if you do that—if you focus on hOW TO BEAT yOUr fEArS (AND fiNiSh yOUr BOOk) · 47

the reader—you will actually end up looking good. [We’ll talk a lot more about this later in the positioning section of the book.] STEP 6: ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT IF I JUST QUIT?” Ask yourself, “If I do NOT write my book, what will happen? Who will suffer, and how?” and write down everything that happens if you quit the book. This is about using your anxiety against itself. If you ask yourself these questions, often your brain reverses itself, and begins to argue for writing the book. This works because of the peculiar way that human brains work. Now that you have “seen” the benefits you can get from writing a book, picturing yourself quitting will trigger one of the strongest psychological reactions in humans: loss aversion. Once you imagine yourself with all these benefits, and then you imagine yourself losing them—things shift in your brain. Your fear doesn’t necessarily go away. It just takes a back seat to loss aversion. This is one of the most replicated findings in social science; people are far more motivated by losing something than by gaining some- thing. By already picturing yourself with benefits and gains, you now want to keep them. STEP 7: MAKE YOUR DECISION This step is very simple: review everything you’ve written so far, and then decide: are you going to move forward with your book? Is it worth it? Make no mistake, this is a decision, and it is NOT assumed or automatic that you should write the book. In fact, there are plenty of times people look at their lists and realize that the risks of the 48 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

potential consequences outweigh the benefits, and they decide not to do the book. And that is fine. In the Guided Author Workshops we run, I have people literally read the major parts of each step out loud, and then either commit or not, out loud in front of the entire group. It works really well as a way to take this out of your head and make it real. I mean it, you really should say your decision out loud. When you say it and hear it, it makes it different. STEP 8: ASK YOURSELF, “WHAT’S THE PLAN TO AVOID THESE CONSEQUENCES?” Now that you have committed to your book, to move past your fear, you need to lay out precisely what the plan is to avoid or minimize the consequences. This is because fears often partly originate from a subconscious reaction to a poor plan, or a lack of a plan (this is also where pro- crastination comes from). For example, if the fear is: “I’m afraid that I’ll write this book and I will look bad, and it will hurt my professional reputation,” it’s highly likely that fear comes from, in part, the fact that you’re not confident in your writing skills and don’t yet have a clear idea of who will help you edit your book. The plan might be as simple as having a professional editor and two colleagues review the manu- script before you decide to publish it, to make sure you look good. You may have to come back and fill in parts of this section later, and that’s okay. For example, if the fear is, “I’m afraid I won’t have time to write the book,” well, right now you don’t have a plan to make time to write the book (we get to that part of the plan later). But don’t worry—by the time you finish this book, you will have a hOW TO BEAT yOUr fEArS (AND fiNiSh yOUr BOOk) · 49

specific, detailed, actionable plan, so you can know for certain that if you follow it, you’ll get your book done. STEP 9: ASK YOURSELF, “HOW CAN I USE THIS FEAR TO HELP ME?” Fear can actually help you, if you take the right perspective on it. Remember the roller coaster example. You cannot choose your physiological response to a roller coaster, but with some practice, you CAN choose how you interpret that physiological response. Your subjective experience can be “afraid” or “thrilled,” but the body treats the physical response the same. This means you can reframe fear into excitement, and retrain your brain to not be afraid of writing your book—and in fact to harness that energy to help you write your book. Now look at each fear you wrote, and ask, “How can I use this fear to help me?” For example, if the fear is “I’m afraid that I’ll write this book and I will look bad, and it will hurt my professional reputation,” then you can use the energy of that fear to motivate you to put in the work to do a really good book—to ensure that you do not look bad. This is possible for each fear. Every fear has the seeds of its solution in it, if you can find them and use them. 50 · ThE SCriBE METhOD


The Scribe Method by Tucker Max - Page 52

2.1 WhAT iS BOOk POSiTiONiNg (AND Why DOES iT MATTEr)? “The task is not so much to see what no one has seen, but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.” —SChrödinger Positioning is the most crucial part of both writing and marketing your book. If you put in the work to properly position your book now, you will reap the benefits for years. What is book positioning? Simply stated, book positioning is the place your book occupies in the mind of your reader, and how that reader perceives your book as fulfilling their needs. That is the technical, industry definition of positioning. But really, positioning is about answering the question readers ask about every book: “Why should I read this book?” WhAT iS BOOk POSiTiONiNg (AND Why DOES iT MATTEr)? · 53

It’s important to understand that you can’t write or market yourself out of a positioning problem. If you get it right, positioning makes both the writing and marketing of the book easy, and ensures you get what you want from your book. If you do not take this seriously, and get your positioning wrong, then almost nothing you can do will save your book or make it successful. A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY OF BOOK POSITIONING For a hundred years in the old traditional publishing model, every agent had to have the positioning discussion with an editor before they would buy a book. Strictly speaking, in traditional publishing circles the positioning discussion only revolved around how the book fit into traditional sales categories. That’s where the term comes from. It’s literally a discussion of what position on the bookstore shelves the book is supposed to go, because in the twentieth century, the market for books was essentially synonymous with the needs of bookstores. This is obviously no longer the case. Most books are now sold digi- tally, categories don’t matter as much, and the majority of physical books are not sold in bookstores, but rather in non-book retail stores like Costco and Walmart that don’t even have categorized shelves. Furthermore, when all book publishing was done by traditional publishing companies, the only positioning decisions they cared about concerned whether books would sell, because that’s how they made money. MODERN BOOK POSITIONING None of this is true anymore. Now, most books are published out- 54 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

side of the old, traditional models, and most nonfiction books are not monetized directly. Here is modern reality: most nonfiction authors make the major- ity of their money from other things that a book gets them, and not from sales of their books. You can always make money by selling copies, of course. But making money indirectly from a book means you’re using your book as a marketing tool to get you something else that produces revenue. For example, a book will help you elevate your authority, increase your visibility, and get you more clients. This strategy fundamen- tally changes the way books are conceived and positioned (more on this later). At Scribe, we’ve adapted the old positioning process so that instead of serving the publishing company’s needs, it serves your needs as the author. POSITIONING DONE RIGHT ENSURES YOUR BOOK WILL WORK In the next three sections of this book, I will lead you through our positioning process, using the exact steps and questions we use to help authors refine and crystallize their ideas into well-positioned books that will get them results. These are the three steps to posi- tioning your book: 1. DETERMINE YOUR OBJECTIVES What result must the book produce for you to be a success? 2. TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE Who is the audience that must be reached for your goal to be achieved? WhAT iS BOOk POSiTiONiNg (AND Why DOES iT MATTEr)? · 55

3. LOCK IN YOUR BOOK IDEA What is your book about, and why will your audience care? Everything is connected. The objectives necessitate a certain audience. The audience has their needs that must be met by the book. And the book idea must attract and provide value to the audience, so you’ll reach the objectives you want to achieve. It all ties together in a simple formula. If you follow it, you’ll pick a book topic that provides value for both you and the audience. That’s the key thing to remember with your book: nobody cares about you, or your book. They only care about what your book can do for them. This point is so important, I am going to begin and end the piece with it: Positioning answers the question in your reader’s mind: “Why should I read this book?” If you do not know the answer to that question before you start writing, chances are you will write a book that does not serve an audience…or you. 56 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

2.2 figUrE OUT yOUr BOOk OBjECTivES “Focus on the target, and you’ll hit it. This gets you the trophy. Focus on the trophy, and you’ll miss the target. This gets you nothing.” —JereMie ruby-StrauSS At Scribe, we start book positioning with objectives. This is because once you know what you want to accomplish with your book, it allows you to focus on writing the correct book to get those objectives. Three basic questions help our authors discern the proper objectives: QUESTION #1: HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR BOOK TO SERVE YOUR READERS? WHAT WILL THEY GET OUT OF IT? While your book can get you myriad benefits, the content of the book is not for you—it’s for the reader. Readers are the audience for the book, and they will support and share your book (which helps you) only once they’ve gotten real value from it. figUrE OUT yOUr BOOk OBjECTivES · 57

We begin by having our authors identify how they see their book serving readers. Once you can pinpoint the benefit your readers will receive, you’ll see how to connect their support to your goals. Here are some common ways authors want their book to serve their readers: 1. Help Solve A Problem/Get Something They Want: This is usually the big one, and can vary across a wide range of benefits, but the point is that every reader is buying your book because they anticipate it is going to get them something they want—so what is that thing? 2. Gain Knowledge/Wisdom/Information: Sometimes that thing the author wants will come from learning something, so this is often intimately tied with solving a problem, but they are not always the exact same thing. 3. Inspired/Motivated/Empowered: This is about how the read- ers will feel coming out of the book. 4. New Perspective: This is not as common as the above, but still fairly frequent. Many authors want to give readers an entirely new way to look at something. EXAMPLES From a book about learning faster and more effectively: • First and foremost, I want to inspire them, and convince them that they aren’t stuck where they are now—that they can improve and unlock their full potential to learn anything and everything, fast. • I’d like to give them tools and techniques (and then the confi- dence) to actually learn faster. • Finally, I’d like to open their eyes to an alternative way of living, from health to lifestyle design, to their career. I want to ultimately inspire and empower them to live the lives of their dreams. 58 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

From a book that teaches women how to sell like men, but ethically and with heart: • The women who read this book will feel empowered to ask for the sale confidently. • The women who read this book will be able to use the sales strategies I share to increase their conversion rate without ever feeling pushy or sales-y. • The women who read this book will feel like, “If she can do it, I can do it too!” • The women who read this book will feel inspired to stand in the face of fear and go for their dreams in sales. QUESTION #2: IMAGINE IT’S A FEW YEARS AFTER YOUR BOOK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED. WHAT HAS THE BOOK HELPED YOU ACCOMPLISH THAT MADE THE EFFORT WORTHWHILE? There are an almost infinite array of benefits a book can get for an author, but most of them fall into one of these six popular objectives: 1. Raise Visibility/Profile: books can increase visibility in any number of ways, like making it easier to gain media exposure or raise your profile in your niche. 2. Increase Authority/Credibility: books help an author establish authority and gain credibility within their field. 3. Get New Clients/Opportunities: books can easily help gen- erate new business and other opportunities across a variety of platforms and venues in multiple ways. 4. Speaking Engagements: a book is almost a necessity for becoming a paid speaker, or often getting booked for any public speaking at all. 5. Leave a Legacy: a book can help establish a legacy, and pass your story on to others. 6. Impact Others: This is somewhat covered by the first question, but you can put it here as well. For some authors, this is often the main benefit to them. They either do not care about what figUrE OUT yOUr BOOk OBjECTivES · 59

they’ll get from their book, or they care about that only as a sec- ondary benefit. Note that for any book to be effective, it has to impact others—it’s just that some authors place a much higher emphasis on this than others. Obviously, the details of each of these depend on your specific field and profession, but any of those objectives can be very realistic objectives. Note: The more specific you are with your objectives, the better. EXAMPLES From the same book about learning faster and more effectively: • We have built our B2C business to over $10M a year, in large part by leveraging the free book funnel and the exposure of the book, despite the fact that I’m less involved in the business than ever. • We are running the world’s largest learning summit, with over 500 people a year paying to attend. • We’re doing over $1M a year in corporate and enterprise sub- scriptions, because of the exposure and credibility of the book and the event. • We have sparked research, conversation, and debate about education reform, and are working on a few not-for-profit pilot initiatives to improve education. From the same book that teaches women how to sell like men, but ethically and with heart: • I have a large following of female entrepreneurs and my brand is recognized and well-respected. • I’m a sought-out speaker on the topic of sales and female empowerment. I have done a TEDx talk and been asked to speak at large, recognizable conferences like SXSW and Traf- fic & Conversion Summit. I will be asked to speak in venues 60 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

with thousands of audience members and be paid $20K for a speaking engagement. • I frequently get messages from people (women and men) who thank me for writing this book because it genuinely helped them. WHAT ARE UNREALISTIC BOOK OBJECTIVES? Of course everyone secretly hopes their book will sell millions of copies and be a breakout success—but if you make that your objective, you are setting yourself up for failure. Those are not realistic goals. If you set realistic goals, you give your book a chance to actually succeed. In fact, the most important thing you can do with this question is kill your fantasies and set objectives that are achievable. These are unrealistic objectives: • Sell a million copies the first year • Be asked to do a TED talk • Become a famous author • Be a New York Times Best Selling author • Get on Oprah/Ellen • Fill an ill-defined emotional void Here’s the thing about these objectives: they are not literally impos- sible. People have accomplished them all. We’ve had a few of our authors do them. But they are exceedingly rare, and most books have no shot at these objectives. The more you focus on realistic objectives, the better your book will be at hitting the audience you need to hit in order to succeed. REFERENCE: If you want to read a deeper dive into what exactly a book can get you, both in terms of branding and tangible ROI, read Reference piece 9.2: How Writing A Book Can Build Your Brand, and 9.3: How To Make Money With Your Book. figUrE OUT yOUr BOOk OBjECTivES · 61

QUESTION #3: WHAT’S THE SINGLE EVENT THAT WILL HAPPEN BECAUSE OF THE BOOK THAT WILL CAUSE YOU TO SAY, “THIS WAS ALL WORTH IT!”? THE THING THAT WILL MAKE YOU “BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE” AND CELEBRATE? We ask this question to check on alignment. If your “champagne moment” doesn’t match any of your stated objectives, then you need to really ask yourself why, and examine your alignment. GOOD EXAMPLES: • “When I book my first speaking gig.” • “When I get my first client from the book.” • “When my book is finally published.” • “When I hold my book in my hand.” BAD EXAMPLES (NOTE THESE ARE REAL THINGS AUTHORS HAVE SAID TO US): • “When I sell a million copies and get on every bestseller list and Malcolm Gladwell asks me to co-write his next book and Oprah wants me on her show.” • “When I keynote TED and sell my company for a billion dollars.” • “When my book has an impact on my industry.” • “When my dad tells me he loves me.” 62 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

2.3 figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE “The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.” —dale Carnegie You can absolutely write a book without caring who your audience is. But don’t expect it to do well. In fact, there’s a name for a book that is written without an audience in mind—it’s called a diary. If you want your book to be successful and reach the objectives you set out for it, you need an audience, and you need to think about and define that audience beforehand. Let’s start with a definition of what an audience is (for the purposes of a book): An audience is a single group of people that share the specific problem your book solves. Why does this matter? Because the key to writing a good book is figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 63

actually narrowing your audience down as much as possible—down to only the people your book is intended to help. AUDIENCE MISTAKES Authors make two big mistakes when thinking about their audience: MISTAKE #1: GOING BROAD INSTEAD OF NICHE Some authors start by thinking their book can potentially reach everyone. They dream about the millions of people that “could possibly” find their book appealing. Don’t do that. There is literally no book ever written with an audi- ence of everyone. Not the Bible. Not the Koran. Not the Torah. Not 50 Shades, or Harry Potter, or any other book. If you think your book is for everyone, you are flat wrong. In fact, even thinking that your book appeals to a wide audience is probably wrong. There are very few nonfiction books published each year that have an audience of more than even a hundred thousand. The fact is, the large majority of books are completely unappealing to most people. And that’s perfectly okay. BETTER FRAME: THE RICHES ARE IN THE NICHES Imagine you’re searching for oil. Do you want to dig down only one foot, over ten miles wide? Or do you want to go down ten miles deep into the earth? 64 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Which approach is going to strike oil? Of course you go ten miles deep and a foot wide with your digging. A book gives you the same choice, and almost all authors are better off putting their book into the “foot wide, miles deep” category. Why go niche with your audience instead of broad? First, it’s very hard to write a book with wide appeal. Even professional writers who sell books for a living don’t try and write overly broad books. They define a clear audience and then go after that audience. The second reason is that attracting a wide audience doesn’t help you. If you’re like most nonfiction authors (and all of our clients), your goal is to use your book to establish your legacy, impact others, increase your authority, raise your visibility, drive new leads and clients, and possibly get you speaking engagements or other opportunities. Your book is a marketing tool of sorts, not the product or service you care about selling. You can absolutely appeal to multiple audiences, but generally speaking, the more audiences you try to reach, the worse your book will perform. A focused book that appeals to a small audience is much more valu- able than a broad subject book that is only marginally appealing to many audiences. This is because broad subjects, like general life advice, tend to not only be well covered already, but also tend to not be very actionable for people. Most people read nonfiction because they expect it to provide a positive impact or ROI in their lives. They know it’s specifically for them, and directly actionable for their lives. figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 65

Compare this to a book about a broad, general topic, like “how to be happy.” You might think everyone cares about being happy, and that is true to some extent, but unless you are really knowledge- able and already an expert about this subject AND you have an angle that has never been explored, it will be very hard to convince people that your book about happiness—as opposed to the thou- sands already out there by experts—is the one to read. MISTAKE #2: THE AUTHOR DOESN’T KNOW WHY THEIR AUDIENCE WILL CARE Here’s the most important thing you must remember about your book: Your audience doesn’t care about your book; they only care what your book GETS THEM. Readers won’t care about your book if you cannot compellingly explain why it provides value to them. Think about yourself when you decide whether or not to buy a book. Do you ever care about the author’s goals as a reason for buying the book? Of course not. You only buy a book if you think that buying this book will help you. Well, that’s precisely what your audience is going to do when they see your book on a shelf or on Amazon or on their friend’s Facebook page. So you had better be able to answer that question: Why does your book matter to them? BETTER FRAME: IMAGINE TEACHING SOMEONE THAT PAYS FOR YOUR HELP If you aren’t sure why your book matters to your audience, then chances are very high you have made your book about you, and 66 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

have not spent any time thinking about who would read it. It’s a common mistake that many authors make. So instead, get back to the roots of why this book matters to you, what we talked about in the introduction: how can your knowledge help alleviate the pain and suffering of someone else? Picture the exact person who you can help most. What would you say to them? How would you teach them what you know? How would that help them? Where would they be after they learned what you knew and applied it? If you can picture that, then dialing in your audience should be fairly simple. MISTAKE #3: MIXING UP PSYCHOGRAPHICS AND DEMOGRAPHICS One of the common mistakes that authors make in targeting their audience is they focus too much on demographics, and not enough on psychographics. Demographics explain “who” your buyer is, while psychographics explain “why” they buy. To summarize: Demographics = Who People Are • Sex • Age • Race • Marital Status • Social Class • Income Example Demographic Information: • Female figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 67

• Aged 45-65 • Married, with children • Dealing with issues of weight gain, diabetes, lack of energy, or hormonal imbalance • Household income $100K+ Psychographics = How People Think • Emotions • Values/Beliefs • Attitudes • Interests • Opinions • Tribal/Group Affiliation Example Psychographic Information: • Concerned with health and appearance • Wants a healthy lifestyle, but doesn’t have much time • Enjoys going online in the evenings, big fan of Pinterest • Tends to favor quality over economy • Finds fulfillment in her career and family • Values time with a small group of friends Understanding the difference is important in modern marketing. The reality is that demographic data used to be all you needed to target and understand audiences, because so much of the market fell into predictable patterns based on demographics. Digital media has exploded consumer options, and made demo- graphics less predictive of human behavior. Now, psychographics work better. The differences between how people think are now more important in (most) marketing than who they appear to be. 68 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

BETTER FRAME: USE PSYCHOGRAPHICS TO UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE TARGETING, AND WHY THEY CARE When you focus more on psychographics, what you are doing is deeply focusing on the emotions and values and problems of the people you envision your book targeting. Psychographics force you to understand your audience, to “walk a mile in their shoes” metaphorically. The best authors use both to deeply understand who their audience is, what they want, and why, and once they understand that, they write a book for a small group of people. This is true even if you want to write a big book that appeals to a bunch of people. To do that, you must start with a small, specific audience. Every book that sells lots of copies starts with Kevin Kelly’s idea of the “1,000 true fans,” which is the microtribe that believes in the idea and champions it to others. That small group of people is the launching pad for all famous books. This is why we always tell authors to focus on the microtribe first. There’s a famous concept in innovation called “crossing the chasm.” It’s where a product tilts into the mass market. It cannot cross the chasm unless you start with your microtribe of “innovators” and “early adopters.” The people who believe in your idea and spread it to others are all you should be concerned about at the beginning, because they are the ones who will push your idea into the mainstream. If you truly want to change the world and reach tons of people, this is how you do it. figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 69

LATE MAJORITY “CONSERVATIVES” “THE CHASM” INNOVATORS “TECHIES” EARLY EARLY LAGGARDS ADOPTERS MAJORITY “SKEPTICS” “VISIONARIES” “PRAGMATISTS” I’ll give you two examples: The first one is my own #1 New York Times bestselling book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. That book started as emails to my nine friends from law school. The first half of that book is literally cleaned-up emails I sent to my friends. I only cared about making them laugh. It turned out that my friends represented a large group of people, and by making them laugh, I was able to make millions more laugh. Or how about the Tim Ferriss story of how he launched 4HWW at SXSW. He didn’t try to reach every white-collar worker sitting at home watching the news. He started with the tech crowd that would get super excited and actually implement his ideas—the ones who send hundreds of emails per day. They started using his email signature system he described in the book, and the book caught like wildfire. But he started with a microtribe. And he did the same thing with defining his audience that we 70 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

recommended above: define your primary audience as tightly as possible. He false-started the 4HWW twice because he couldn’t get the tone and voice right (and threw away many draft chapters). He finally decided to write it as an email to two 29-year-old friends of his—exactly the kind of people he thought would benefit from it. He actually opened an email and started typing the book to really hammer home that this book was aimed directly at that very explicit audience. He believes the discipline of creating a super-specific avatar is what made the book so powerful. It made it authentic and legitimate. Like I said above, many authors object to this idea, saying, “But I want to write a book for a broad audience.” Well, Tim goes on to explain that, “The target is not the market.” It’s a pithier way of explaining that you have to succeed with a core group before you have a chance at a larger audience. Before you can help them get clear on what they are doing and for whom. This is why it’s so important to not only nail your audience, but to make that audience very tight and specific. DETERMINE YOUR AUDIENCE AUDIENCE QUESTION #1: WHO IS YOUR PRIMARY AUDIENCE? We recommend starting with the smallest possible audience you must reach to make your book successful. For most authors, the smaller the better. Your total audience is a series of concentric cir- cles; the primary audience is the bullseye. When I say small and niche, I mean literally ask yourself, “Who makes up the smallest group of people that my book is specifically designed to reach and influence?” figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 71

By starting small, you can ensure that your book will definitely reach SOMEONE. This niche focus ensures that your audience will get excited about your ideas, they will implement your ideas, and they will share your ideas with their peers. Anyone who doesn’t meet those criteria is not in your microtribe. The audience you need to reach is directly tied to the results you want, and you can reverse engineer precisely who your audience is by understanding who needs to know about your book to make your results happen. This process is no more complicated than asking yourself a very basic question: “Who MUST know about my book in order for it to get the results I want?” This is results for the reader and for you. For example, if your objective is to help oil and gas executives make better decisions about where to drill, and you want to speak at major oil and gas conferences and become the expert in this space, then your audience is the people who book the speakers for that specific conference (and the executives who attend). If your objective is to help CTO’s recruit engineers better, and raise your authority in the CTO space to get clients for your CTO recruit- ing business that caters to small-to-midsize companies, then chief technology officers from SMBs are your primary audience. If you want to help people deal with their back pain and get visibility in your community to drive clients to your chiropractic practice, then your audience is the people in your community with the health problems that you can address. Pretty simple. 72 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

GOOD EXAMPLES: • “Chiropractors who own their own practices, looking for better ways to market their business.” • “Accredited investors looking for how to get into wine as an investment.” • “Women executives, aged 30-45, who want to have kids but don’t want to compromise their career.” BAD EXAMPLES: • “Women 20-70, suffering, that want to feel better.” • “Any executive who wants to be a better leader.” • “Young men and women looking for something more in life.” HOW CAN YOU TALK TO DIFFERENT AUDIENCES WITH ONE BOOK? You can do this, but it’s complicated. Basically, the only way you can talk to multiple audiences is if: • They tightly overlap. For example, nurses who want to be entre- preneurs and nurses who want to start a medical practice are different audiences, but they overlap very much. • They have the same concern or problem you are solving. For example, people with sleep problems and people with energy issues are different audiences, but if they are both caused by the same thing (a thyroid issue, for example), then they are very different audiences who have the same problem. You can have a few different sets of primary audiences, just make sure if you do, they connect in a very obvious way. AUDIENCE QUESTION #2: DESCRIBE A TYPICAL PERSON IN YOUR PRIMARY AUDIENCE (AN AVATAR). WHAT ARE THEY LIKE? This person is literally who you’re writing the book for. They are your perfect reader. figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 73

This should be a description of a specific person in your primary audience. It can be a real person who is representative of your audi- ence, or it can be a made-up composite of several different people. It’s essential that you describe a specific person, as it makes posi- tioning your book more real. Don’t describe a group or a type or a set of characteristics: create an individual with a name and a story. The point of doing it this way is to set you up for the next two ques- tions, which are about digging into your audience’s pain and the benefits they will get from reading your book. Clearly understand- ing both serves as a yardstick against which you can measure the value of your content when you begin writing. If possible, pick someone who energizes you—either a real person or a composite of real people. Someone you really want to help, maybe someone who reminds you of yourself before you knew everything you know now (the “younger you” can be a great ideal reader). The more you envision a real person who you can help, the more excited you will be about writing this book for them. AUDIENCE QUESTION #3: WHAT PAIN IS THIS PERSON EXPERIENCING BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT READ YOUR BOOK? This step is about expressing your reader’s pain. How are they suf- fering, what are they missing out on, what do they not have that they want? They are depressed and suffering—how, specifically, and why? Your answer should only be about the problems they currently have, not the solutions. Your book is the cure, but we first have to know what ails them. Sometimes Questions 3 and 4 overlap a little, that is fine. In fact, you might have written the pain in the description of the person, if so, just cut and paste and move it here. 74 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

AUDIENCE QUESTION #4: WHAT BENEFIT WILL THEY GET BECAUSE THEY READ AND IMPLEMENT YOUR BOOK? Once this person reads your book and implements your ideas, what happens? Do they only stop experiencing the pain described above, do they get more benefits, or both? What good things will happen as a result of reading your book and implementing your ideas? Most important, what changes or transformation occurs in their life? What is their new life like? EXAMPLES (ALL FROM REAL BOOKS) EXAMPLE 1: JENNIFER, ADVANCE PRACTICE NURSE Who is your Primary Audience (the microtribe your book must reach to achieve its objectives)? Advanced practice nurses interested in starting a healthcare practice. Describe a typical person in your Primary Audience (an avatar). What are they like? Jennifer is an advanced practice nurse who currently works for a physician, hospital, or large practice. She doesn’t make as much money as she feels that she should, and she works long hours that take her away from her family. In order to meet volume quotas and stay on schedule, Jennifer isn’t able to spend much time with her patients. This makes her feel rushed and stressed. She worries that she may be missing things or not providing the quality of care that would be possible if she had more time. Further, she’s not able to practice the type of pre- ventative, relationship-based care that fuels her soul. She is afraid of leaving the security of her current position, but isn’t sure she wants to keep practicing nursing if she doesn’t make figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 75

a change. She wants to start her own practice, but doesn’t know where to start or what to do. She is looking for guidance and per- mission, but hasn’t found a book, resource, or mentor to help her. What pain are they experiencing because they’ve not read your book? Jennifer feels stressed and rushed at her current job. She is unhappy, unfulfilled, and has considered leaving nursing completely. She is afraid of starting her own practice because she doesn’t know where to start or what to do. She’s afraid she’ll fail. She’s afraid she won’t make any money. She’s a nurse, not an entrepreneur! She isn’t sure if she’s doing things right, which is scary because she likes to follow the rules. All of this uncertainty means it’s taking Jennifer a lot longer than it should to start her practice, leaving her in her current job where she is unhappy. What benefit will they get because they read and implement your book? Jennifer will get a step-by-step guide to start her own practice. The process is no longer mysterious. It now seems achievable. She now knows the applicable laws and regulations, so she has peace of mind knowing she won’t be breaking any rules. With a roadmap and examples of other APNs who have succeeded, Jennifer now has the confidence and permission to start her own practice. Jennifer is less afraid of failure, because she has strategies to mit- igate the risk of starting a business. Jennifer is now fast-tracked to get what she really wants—a better lifestyle (more time to take care of herself, flexibility to be avail- able for family and/or friends); the freedom and autonomy to practice the type of medicine she loves, the ability to benefit from the fruits of her hard labor, and recognition as a leader in her community. 76 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

EXAMPLE 2: HAROLD, CMO Who is your Primary Audience (the microtribe your book must reach to achieve its objectives)? Small to medium business owners (approx. $2 million to $100 mil- lion in revenue), or marketing leadership (Directors, CMOs, etc.) in large organizations who are tired of paying out too much for bad results from conventional digital marketing agencies. Describe a typical person in your Primary Audience (an avatar). What are they like? Harold is 50 years old and the CMO of his large regional insurance company. He has always relied on outsourcing his digital marketing and advertising because, “This is how we’ve always done things.” What pain are they experiencing because they’ve not read your book? The agencies he’s hired in the past consistently overcharged and under-delivered. Though this worked a decade ago, with com- petition increasing, it no longer cuts it. He has tried most of the agencies he can find, and they all do about the same. He wants to find an alternative, but has no idea where to look. He’s also heard much about AI and automation and the uncertainty about a chang- ing agency landscape. Declining revenues are creating a significant amount of stress in his life. What benefit will they get because they read and implement your book? After reading this book, he will know exactly how to evaluate and assess all the different digital agencies and options, and better understand and negotiate with them for their services. He will learn how to change, adapt, and innovate his marketing strategy by learning the right ways to invest in digital marketing, which will figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 77

help him grow the other areas of his business as well. He will now also know of a new option where he can take his business: political digital agencies. EXAMPLE 3: VICTORIA, SENIOR EXECUTIVE Who is your Primary Audience (the microtribe your book must reach to achieve its objectives)? C-Suite and high-level executives in Fortune 500 companies that are responsible for and/or anxious about digital transformation and technology strategy for their companies, and who are seeking guidance, input, and inspiration. Describe a typical person in your Primary Audience (an avatar). What are they like? Victoria is a high-flying senior executive for a global financial services organization, and she has been tasked with leading her company’s multimillion-dollar digital transformation strategy. She cannot afford to fail. She knows the company well and has worked hard to achieve success over her 25-year career, and she is both excited and nervous by this new responsibility. She has been a rising star throughout her career, always having great success with the roles and projects that she has been given, and she jumped at the chance to take on this new responsibility six months ago, but it now feels like a bit of a poisoned chalice. Every day, she reads about new companies coming into the market and disrupting it, and she feels enormous pressure to make prog- ress with her plan, but doesn’t know where to start or what to do. What pain are they experiencing because they’ve not read your book? 78 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Victoria feels exposed and lonely because there is no one in her organization that she can turn to, but she knows that she needs to make some changes. She is also overwhelmed by the huge volume of material in the mar- ketplace that warns companies that they have to engage in digital transformation or risk being wiped out, but which provides very little tangible help in doing so. She has nightmares that her company will be the next “Block- buster,” wiped out by the Financial Services equivalent of Netflix, and that it will happen on her watch and that she will be considered a failure. Some of her peers within the company are pushing back hard on the changes that she is proposing, and waging a political war against her to keep her off their turf. The ideas that she has developed about new products and experiences for customers are being shot down by the head of marketing and the head of retail banking, both of whom think that they should be driving the digital agenda. They are actively trying to undermine her and make her look bad, and it is starting to feel like Game of Thrones. In the industry, people are not sharing knowledge, because they are all feeling under pressure, and it adds to her sense of isolation and paranoia. Some of her best people are leaving to join new compa- nies, and she would be tempted to do the same, but these startups don’t want someone as old as her. In her last presentation to the board, the directors didn’t seem to understand or support the approach that she proposed, and it feels to her like resistance is crystallizing. She was asked to lead the dig- ital transformation for the organization, but now she isn’t given the resources or the support that she needs. She is starting to feel like she is in a lose-lose situation that could figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 79

threaten her future with the company, and her career—she feels like she is working with dinosaurs. She is starting to feel that her team are losing faith in her because they aren’t getting a strong, clear strategy from her. She knows that this is a great opportunity for her, but she just cannot quite come up with a path to success. Because she doesn’t want to talk too widely about it, she is starting to withdraw from the rest of the organization, and it’s exacerbating her situation. What benefit will they get because they read and implement your book? When reading my book, she will immediately recognize her situa- tion and feel a sense of relief that the things that she is experiencing are not specific or personal to her, but something that many exec- utives are going through. The case studies and examples of other organizations and execu- tives that have been through similar journeys will highlight their successes and failures, and draw out lessons that are useful to her. It also will provide her with some tools and techniques for handling the issues that she is facing, including a “six-point roadmap” for creating a strategy and plan that will be successful. It will also give her confidence to talk knowledgeably about digital and technology trends by introducing her to a new model called the “eight technology forces” (e.g., quantum computing and block- chain) that covers predictions of how future technology trends will impact business and society, providing her with reference materials that will help her to make progress with her strategy. Her anxiety will be alleviated through the tone of the book, which 80 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

will convey the sense that she is not alone and that she needs to fight the good fight for the future of her company, and also for her legacy. It will galvanize her and give her the inspiration that she needs to reboot her program and stride into the next board meeting with clear purpose and direction. She finally feels that she is going to win and that she can lead this initiative to success, and take her career forward, positioning her- self for her next promotion or a job in a different company. EXAMPLE 4: JENNY, INDEPENDENT ENTREPRENEUR Describe a typical person in your Primary Audience (an avatar). What are they like? Jenny works every single day as a consultant in her independent business. In between taking care of her children, she is taking care of her clients. She is staying up late at night to make sure the work gets done, waking up exhausted each morning, and can’t seem to increase her income no matter what she does. When something happens in the family, she is the only one holding it all together. She feels guilty because she loves her business and she loves her children and her husband, but two always seem to suffer when she spends time with the other. She feels like she not only can’t get ahead, she can’t even get balanced. What pain are they experiencing because they’ve not read your book? Nothing is working. She is frustrated, physically tired, she’s in the figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 81

worst shape of life, and she avoids looking in the mirror and wears bigger clothes to avoid seeing this fact. Her marriage is crumbling, she hasn’t had sex in months, and she feels unsupported, unseen, and unloved. Her children are acting out at school and home, which only adds to her physical toll and frustration/fear. She’s exhausted, she’s frustrated, she’s resentful, she’s angry, and she feels guilty because she can’t be present with her children and family—although that is WHY she decided to start her business to begin with. She feels like she is completely failing everyone around her, and they are failing her. She’s afraid to try something different because she is afraid of people not understanding, judging her and abandoning her, leav- ing her feeling more alone than she already does now. What benefit will they get because they read and implement your book? Jenny receives the toolkit to overcome her fears, frustration, guilt, shame, and anger. She understands who she is on a genetic level, which gets her self- awareness, self-acceptance, and then love of self. She will understand how crucial her happiness is to the happiness of everyone around her, and how her suffering contributes to the suffering of those around her. She will understand how to center herself, how to make herself the priority, how to take care of herself physically, and why having amazing sex and allowing herself TO BE supported actually strengthens her relationships. 82 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

And even in the moments it does not feel like it, she can look around and recognize how everything has brought her to this moment, and she knows she can handle it and that she’s never truly alone. Most importantly she realizes suffering does not equal love. She will also understand her children and husband on a genetic level, and help them do the same. She will love and accept them for exactly who they are, not who she thinks they can/should be, which releases the tyranny of expectation. This allows her to build a part- nership with her children and husband, and release herself from the pressure of PARENTING—which is true freedom as a mother. figUrE OUT yOUr AUDiENCE · 83

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2.4 figUrE OUT yOUr BOOk iDEA “Explaining things that matter: Be simple. Then simpler than that. Just say what happens. The part of reality that any given person needs to know is naturally riveting to them.” —anne herbert Now it’s time for the fun part: nailing down your book idea. Book ideas often shift once the objectives and audience become clear, so we leave this task for the end of the positioning process. It’s much easier now to get your idea right, because you know exactly what you want to accomplish and what audience you must attract with your book to reach your objectives. Before you write down your book idea, be sure to avoid the biggest mistake that authors make: Don’t write the book you think your audience “should” read. Instead, write the book your audience wants to read. This is a subtle yet very important distinction. If you can answer the next two questions well, then it should be positioned properly. figUrE OUT yOUr BOOk iDEA · 85

BOOK IDEA QUESTION #1: IN 200 WORDS OR LESS, DESCRIBE YOUR BOOK Write a one-paragraph description of exactly what the book is about. DO NOT worry about writing the perfect description. Just get something down in less than 200 words that answers these three questions: 1. What is the book about? 2. Who is the ideal reader for the book? 3. What will the ideal reader get? You don’t have to get it perfect at first; you just need to get some- thing down that gets you pointed in the right direction. You will have plenty of time to get it perfect later on. For now, distill the book idea into 200 words or, better yet, less. If you can’t do it in 200 words, you don’t actually know what your book is about, who it’s for, or why they will care. If you are struggling with this, then think about your favorite book. Tell me in a few sentences what your favorite book is about. OK, what would that be for your book? EXAMPLES OF WELL-WRITTEN BOOK IDEAS This book will be an informative, easy-to-digest guide to hand safety in construction and manufacturing workplaces. The author will share what companies can do to educate their teams on hand safety and how to reduce hand injuries amongst their employees outside of just purchasing gloves. He will explain the methodology and safety tips needed to prevent hand injuries before they happen, and what to do if they do happen to prevent them from coming up again. He will include case studies, helpful tips, and practical applications that safety manag- ers can use to prevent the majority of hand injuries in these companies, which is a huge risk each day. *** 86 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

This book explores a series of critical flaws that represent the most common root causes of poor performance in organizations and are the primary reasons why organizations fail to achieve peak performance. What’s challenging about these flaws is that they lie underneath the surface of poor performance, so many organizations are not aware of them. Even when people may be somewhat aware, they may not realize how deep they go. And if/when they realize, they may not want or be able to treat them—especially alone. This book is for C-Suite executives who lead organizations that aren’t performing as well as they need to or could. It will help them diagnose and cure these flaws in their organizations, thus positioning their organizations for optimal business results; scalable, sustainable growth; efficient and effective operations; happy and engaged employees; and satisfied customers. On a personal level, this book will help these executives become more effective, less stressed, and happier in their professional and personal lives. After you read the examples above, you could explain to someone else what the book is about, who it is for, and what they will get out of it. EXAMPLE OF A POORLY WRITTEN BOOK IDEA Jim Smith is known as the “Deal Maker of Business.” He got his start at the age of eighteen and hasn’t stopped since. Now, with seven bestsellers and a reputation for his success as a digital nomad, Jim is looking to become a big deal with entrepreneurs. In his book, Jim will reveal his country roots and his struggle with education as a high school student to set the stage for his readers to understand that the only thing holding them back is their mindset. Though he is known as a real estate success and has written extensively about cornering that market, this book will pull back the curtain to reveal that Jim’s success isn’t about real estate alone—it’s about the self-awareness required to do well in all areas of life, not just business. figUrE OUT yOUr BOOk iDEA · 87

Jim will challenge his readers to give up their throne as the King of Dipshits, to surround themselves with people who challenge them, to identify and own the things they are not great at, and to stop work- ing like $10/hour employees when they are running a million-dollar business. Most of all, Jim will use his experiences and his humor to bring fresh insight to entrepreneurs who want a life like his, but aren’t sure how to get it. What’s this book about? Who is it for? What will they get? I couldn’t say with confidence, and I doubt you can, either. BOOK IDEA QUESTION #2: WHAT’S THE “COCKTAIL PARTY PITCH” FOR THE BOOK? This question is a check on your book idea. The goal is to make sure it works well. Picture your ideal reader in your head, the exact person for whom you wrote your book. Now, imagine they’re at a cocktail party, drinking with friends. They mention the topic that your book is about. Another person perks up—because they’ve read your book. Now they are about to recommend that this person read your book as well, since it is on the exact topic they are talking about. What do they say to recommend it? This is the one-sentence explanation that a real person would actu- ally say out loud to describe your book to their friends, not what you want them to say. That’s the cocktail party pitch. This is NOT your book description. This is NOT ad copy. This is about getting out of yourself and describing your book in the way that a real person would. 88 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

EXAMPLES OF COCKTAIL PARTY PITCHES Grain Brain • Good: “The book explains why bread is poisonous to humans and makes us fat, and then tells you what to eat instead.” • Bad: “This book is a scientific, systematic, and detailed exam- ination of the health problems caused by eating grains and grain-based foods, and a thorough, detailed plan for what foods best replace grain-based foods.” How to Trade Options • Good: “It tells you exactly how to easily trade options. I can barely add, and I got it. It’s made me a bunch of money.” • Bad: “The book explains why the Simple Options Trading System is the greatest trading system there is and proof the author is a genius.” I Got There • Good: “This guy has an amazing story; his dad was a pimp, and now he’s a baller CEO.” • Bad: “The book is a story of enlightenment and accomplish- ment, set against a backdrop of love and loss.” REFERENCE: At this point people tend to have three main questions about what goes in their book; all are covered in these reference sections: 9.5: How Much Should You “Give Away” In Your Book? Advertorial vs. Editorial Content, 9.6: How Much of Your Story Should Be In Your Book?, 9.7: Don’t Put Everything You Know In One Book. figUrE OUT yOUr BOOk iDEA · 89

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2.5 ThE NOrTh STAr ChECk This is what the entire book positioning has been working towards. This sentence should be able to sum up all of the book and precisely how it will work. This is the template: “I will use my book to target [PRIMARY AUDIENCE], by teaching them [BOOK IDEA], which will lead to my ultimate goal of more [OBJECTIVES].” EXAMPLES OF GOOD NORTH STARS My book will attract people who lead sales teams, by teaching them the neuroscience of how to effectively train and run a sales team, which will lead to my ultimate goal of more corporate sales consulting and training. My book will attract HR managers from midsize businesses by teaching them how leveraging automation can revolutionize their experience with once-repetitive and tiresome HR chores, which will lead to my ultimate goal of getting paid speaking and consulting engagements as an expert in the HR automation space. ThE NOrTh STAr ChECk · 91

My book will attract small market advertising professionals, by teaching them five traits their brands can embody if they want to compete with (and beat) category giants, which will lead to my ultimate goal of gaining new clients for my advertising firm. I will use my book to target mature startup founders, by shifting their mindset from chasing VCs to building a revenue-focused business, which will lead to my ultimate goal of expanding my entrepreneur coaching programs across Canada and the US. If this sentence describes the book you want to write, then your positioning is good. Move to the next section. If this sentence does not, then go back and work on your positioning until you get it right. 92 · ThE SCriBE METhOD


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3.1 CrEATE yOUr BOOk OUTliNE “The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.” —edwin SChloSSberg Your outline is the structure of your book, and thus incredibly important. If you start writing without a structure, the process will take forever, and the product will be haphazard and incomplete. Worse, having no outline often leads to not finishing your book at all. The outline is also your best defense against fear, anxiety, pro- crastination, and writer’s block. With good positioning and a good outline, the actual writing of the book becomes fairly easy. What I am about to teach is not what you learned about outlining in school. It is a somewhat unconventional way to approach it. But it’s the process we developed at Scribe to give our authors the best chance of actually getting their book done. What makes our outline different is we only intend it to trigger the proper ideas and concepts for each chapter, so when you sit down to write, you know what to focus on. CrEATE yOUr BOOk OUTliNE · 95

STEP 1: BRAINSTORM THE CHAPTERS FOR YOUR BOOK The first step in creating your outline is to brainstorm and figure out what the chapters are for your book. What is a chapter? It’s basically a single cohesive idea, fully explored. Depending on how you organized your book, it can be a step in the process, or one of several principles, or anything like that. Keep working your list of chapters—adding, subtracting, moving— until you have the major points you want to explain, in the basic order you want to explain them. Don’t worry too much about the order at this point, they will prob- ably change in the next step. All you want to do here is figure out exactly what your chapters are. Also, don’t spend too much time worrying about chapter titles. Just put something in, you can change it later. While there are numerous ways to brainstorm, here are the frame- works that we’ve found work best: FRAMEWORK 1: “WORKSHOP PRESENTATION” This framework works very well for people used to formally pre- senting their knowledge. Just imagine that you are giving a speech, presentation, or workshop to go over your material. What would be part 1? What would be part 2? How would you break up the days? Basically the structure of the workshop or presentation becomes the chapters of the book. FRAMEWORK 2: “TEACH YOUR BOOK” For this model, begin with your ideal reader, someone who is in your primary audience that you described in your positioning. Now, 96 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

imagine teaching them everything in your book. What are the major lessons? What is step one? Step two? Write it all down. If you get stuck in this model, your avatar is your motivator. Pic- ture your ideal client, friend, or student in your mind: how would you explain your process to them? What would they get confused about? What points do they struggle with? What lessons have you conveyed to them? What did they find particularly helpful? What questions do they ask you? The beauty of “teaching your book” is that it’s an excellent frame to articulate the knowledge you have (that you may take for granted). FRAMEWORK 3: “WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID?” Write down the main ideas, concepts, arguments, and principles that you want to make in your book. Don’t get too granular—this is not about fleshing out every detail. This is about getting down the major points. Warning on brainstorming: We’ve seen some authors start this and instead begin to write the book, producing pages and pages and getting frustrated. Don’t go down that rabbit hole. Your list of key points and arguments shouldn’t run longer than a couple of pages. If you’re writing more than that at this stage, you’re getting in too deep too soon. Stay at the 30,000-foot level. Keep your descrip- tions to short phrases or single sentences so you’re forced to stick to main points. Don’t worry about capturing all the details that come to mind. You won’t forget what you know. Instead, this is about clarifying what you know, down to the basics that you want to describe to your reader. Whichever model you choose, understand that this part of the pro- cess can take some time, but do not get too bogged down in it. The point here is to find the major ideas and themes—the chapters. You can always come back and change things later if necessary. CrEATE yOUr BOOk OUTliNE · 97

Helpful Note: When you are brainstorming your chapters, have a section of your page called the “parking lot.” Put all of the good ideas you have that don’t seem to fit, into the parking lot. It’s a place for you to keep those ideas without having to throw them away. This also helps you free your mind from any random ideas and keeps you focused on the main idea of your book, and gives you a place to put the seeds of your future books for later harvesting. STEP 2: CREATE A TABLE OF CONTENTS Once you have what you think are your chapters, then put it in your Table of Contents, and write the key takeaway for each chapter, which is called a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a short summation of the main point you want to make in the chapter. DO NOT overwrite these. It should be one or two sentences, that’s it. 98 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

EXAMPLE TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION THE MYTHS OF HUMAN RESOURCES CHAPTER 1: MYTH #1: SKILLS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING Hire for skills and fire for behavior? That is completely backward. CHAPTER 2: MYTH #2: LINKEDIN IS THE END-ALL- BE-ALL SOURCE FOR RECRUITING In reality, it’s only one sourcing tool. It holds recruiters captive, thinking they don’t have choices. CHAPTER 3: MYTH #3: RECRUITERS DON’T NEED TO BE MARKETERS Wrong. In this day and age, anyone in sales is a marketer. CHAPTER 4: MYTH #4: CANDIDATES ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN TITLES AND MONEY Truth is, we all buy emotionally and justify rationally. It’s the same with candidates. CHAPTER 5: MYTH #5: RECRUITERS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR QUALITY OF HIRE They THINK they’re not. And that’s why they fail. CHAPTER 6: MYTH #6: RECRUITERS WILL BE REPLACED BY TECHNOLOGY Technology is a tool, not a silver bullet, and automating a broken system only speeds up failure. CHAPTER 7: MYTH #7: DIVERSITY IS GOOD BECAUSE IT’S THE “RIGHT THING TO DO” Diversity IS good. But not only because it’s the right thing to do; because it’s the right BUSINESS thing to do. CONCLUSION HOW MANY CHAPTERS SHOULD THERE BE? How many chapters should there be? If there are at least five, and no more than fifteen, that’s normal. If you have less than five, or more than fifteen, that is not necessar- ily wrong, but it is very unusual. If you do that, you’d better have a good reason, one that makes a lot of sense to the reader. CrEATE yOUr BOOk OUTliNE · 99

STEP 3: FILL IN THE OUTLINE STRUCTURE Using the Table of Contents you created, now fill in the template for each chapter. Remember: Don’t write the book in the outline, the outline is to tell you what to write. Below is the outline structure we recommend. It lays out the various elements you’ll need for each chapter. Just fill in the information, which you will use as your guide to write the book. Below this, we show you two chapter examples. Chapter X: [INSERT WORKING TITLE] • Chapter Hook ◦ This should be a personal story, historical anecdote, question to reader, shocking statement, or anything that draws in the attention of the reader and sets up what is about to come in the chapter. ◦ Do not be intimidated by this—all you really need to do here is tell a good short story or anecdote, or introduce a fact that is engaging. ◦ The best chapter hooks tend to be emotionally intense, or some sort of mistake (which is usually emotionally intense). ◦ The best way to start a chapter is by “coming in late.” Begin with a scene or a quote or something that jumps right into the point you are making. ◦ I talk more about hooks in the chapter on Introductions. • Thesis of chapter ◦ Once you have a chapter hook, then you plainly state what will be taught/discussed in this chapter. ◦ Essentially, you tell them what you’re going to tell them. ◦ This should be the same as the key takeaway in the Table of Contents. • Supporting content 100 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

◦ List all the key points/evidence for argument/factual con- tent. ◦ This is the bulk of the section. You can do this quickly and succinctly, but the outline of the chapter should be laid out fairly well. ◦ Don’t go too in-depth by writing every detail, but do be spe- cific and thorough. You are creating an outline, after all. If you see you’ve written paragraphs, you’re getting ahead of yourself. ◦ Make sure these are ordered in a logical way so that they’re building their point or argument like a pyramid, providing the basic foundational information first, then building up from there. ◦ Make sure you look at this section from the vantage point of your reader, rather than your own. Your reader is not the expert, you are, so this section needs to be tailored to them. • Stories ◦ This is where you list the stories you think you want to tell in this chapter. Effective stories are crucial to the success of a book. They are a great way to make the book and its specific takeaway points more memorable. Many readers forget facts after they read a book, but anecdotes and stories stay with them. They’re often more “sticky.” ◦ Make sure your stories are specific and highly relevant. You are not looking for a generic story in these points; rather, this should be a story that fits precisely here and demonstrates the message you want to convey. ◦ This does NOT mean that in your book, you write your sup- porting evidence, and THEN your stories. Of course you will integrate stories and supporting content. ◦ We recommend separating them in the outline, simply because it’s not always clear which stories you want to use and where. Listing these separately allows you to figure this out as you go. • Reader’s key takeaway ◦ This should be the summary at the end of the chapter. It CrEATE yOUr BOOk OUTliNE · 101

clearly lays out what the reader needs to know from this chapter. ◦ Essentially, you tell them what you just told them. • Callback to/wrap-up of opening chapter hook + segue to next chapter ◦ This is an optional section, but most books benefit from tying the end of the chapter back to the hook, and then giving some sort of segue to the next chapter. 102 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

CHAPTER EXAMPLES: CHAPTER 3: HOW CAN WE IMPROVE PUBLIC HEALTH? 1. CHAPTER HOOK American Public Health Association quote about public health, and how it is the biggest unaddressed issue facing America. 2. THESIS OF CHAPTER No other healthcare space can benefit more from the application of anthropology and design thinking than the public health sector. 3. CHAPTER CONTENT The current problems within healthcare Why design thinking alone is not the solution (every patient requires their own individualized approach) What does educational assistance look like in public health? What we can learn from public health experts (What is their process, and what tools do they use?) How anthropology and design thinking come together to benefit public health 4. KEY TAKEAWAY While public health officials try to understand the problems patients are facing, they will always miss the mark as long as they fail to start by understanding the patient—this is why design thinking and anthropology are so important in the public health space. 5. CALLBACK TO HOOK American Public Health Association quote about how public health can be addressed 6. SEGUE TO NEXT The public health space is complicated. CHAPTER Understanding this, and that the space is further complicated by cultural barriers, enables them to work harder to find solutions that fill these gaps. CrEATE yOUr BOOk OUTliNE · 103

CHAPTER 6: RECRUITERS WILL BE REPLACED BY TECHNOLOGY 1. CHAPTER HOOK Google search shows over one million articles about how technology is going to replace recruiters 2. THESIS OF CHAPTER AI will replace millions of jobs, but it will CREATE millions more. Technology will NOT replace recruiters. Rather, it will create more demand for recruiters with the RIGHT SKILLSETS, which is what this chapter is all about. 3. CHAPTER CONTENT How to draw the brakes on automating a broken system until the underlying problems are fixed What readers need to consider in terms of their process before they go about implementing new technology How to develop the kind of skills that technology will never be able to replace 4. KEY TAKEAWAY Technology is only a tool. In and of itself, it can’t fix a broken process. 5. CALLBACK TO HOOK Despite all the discourse and panic, there will be great new opportunities for readers who make themselves invaluable and invincible 6. SEGUE TO NEXT Now that you understand how technology CHAPTER will help recruiters, we will look at how to use technology properly QUESTION: WHY NOT STRUCTURE CHAPTERS LIKE YOU’LL WRITE THEM? If you have outlining experience, you may notice we don’t structure our outline in the traditional way, something like this: 1. Major Point 1 ◦ Minor Point 1 i. Story Y ii. Example Y ◦ Minor Point 2 i. Story X ii. Example X 104 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

2. Major Point 2 ◦ Minor Point 1 i. Story A ii. Point B ◦ Minor Point 2 i. Story A ii. Point B There are a few reasons we don’t recommend this style of outline: IT DOESN’T WORK WELL We’ve helped thousands of authors position, structure, and write books, and by this point, we’ve tested everything. We’ve found that the traditional outline style doesn’t work well with most authors. There are several reasons we think it doesn’t work that well (the main one is detailed below), but why it doesn’t work almost doesn’t matter. The fact is, it does NOT work. We developed our style of outlining after testing dozens of different iterations and realizing what actu- ally produced the best books in the shortest time. MOST AUTHORS CAN’T GET TO THAT LEVEL OF DETAIL UNTIL THEY START WRITING For most authors, they have problems actually understanding ahead of time precisely how to lay their books out. This is under- standable; writing and structuring books is hard and very foreign to people who haven’t done it before. We find that the traditional outline structure gets people lost in the outline, and that the best way to actually get people to writing is to chunk up the chapter into sections, have authors write down enough so they understand what they are trying to say and what they need to write, and then figure out the details as they write. CrEATE yOUr BOOk OUTliNE · 105

THIS STYLE KEEPS THE AUTHOR MOVING FORWARD, INSTEAD OF GETTING STUCK The conventional way of outlining forces the author to get very deep into their knowledge at a stage where some of the ideas may not be worked out yet. Most people do not do well with a long, detailed outline, but do better by writing their way to understanding. This process allows for either approach—you can go detailed if you really want, or you can just get the bullets down that you need, and then figure the rest out as you write. REFERENCE: Everything else you may need to know about book chapters is in here, 9.8: Everything You Need to Know about Book Chapters. 106 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

3.2 OUTliNE ThE iNTrODUCTiON “Don’t try to be original. Just try to be good. That sounds sort of naïve, but it’s true.” —paul rand You know why most readers—probably including you—skip book introductions? Because most authors think the purpose of the introduction is to explain everything they will talk about in the book. That is boring and wrong. The purpose of a good introduction is to engage the reader and get them to read the book. Just because someone is reading an introduction does not mean they are going to finish the book. The thing that scares people off from books is NOT the price—it’s the commitment of time. People don’t care about $10. They care about spending their time on some- thing that is interesting and engaging to them. OUTliNE ThE iNTrODUCTiON · 107

That is the job of the introduction: prove to the reader this book is worth reading. A well-done introduction grabs the reader and compels them to keep reading. It pulls them through, and makes them excited to start the content, because the introduction has answered the most important question the reader has: “Why should I read this book?” WHAT AN INTRODUCTION SHOULD DO: • Get the reader immediately interested in the book • Clearly lay out the pain the reader is facing • Paint a picture of a better future, or a benefit the reader can get • Outline briefly what the reader will learn in the book • Explain why the author is the expert and authority on this sub- ject • Get the reader committed to reading the book WHAT AN INTRODUCTION SHOULD NOT DO: • Be a summary of the book • Try to tell the whole story of something that is already in the book • Tell the author’s whole life story • Tediously explain exactly what is coming in the book • Have a meandering story that the reader doesn’t care about • Have too much background • Be too long • Start at the beginning of the author’s life • Have too much autobiography • Be entirely about the author and what they want to talk about THE BEST INTRODUCTIONS ARE FORMULAIC This is the thing to know about introductions: there is a formula to effective ones, and you should follow it. 108 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Even though it may not seem like there’s a formula, there is one, and if you don’t stick to it, then your readers will feel it, and be upset—even if they don’t know why (and yes, the introduction to this book follows the formula; you can go back and line it up exactly). You can be very creative within the boundaries of the formula, but follow the formula and your introduction will work well. THE FORMULA FOR AN INTRODUCTION A good introduction is like an interesting sales pitch, not a dry and boring informational piece. Introductions are built from these elements: • Hook the reader • Tell a story about the reader’s current pain • Tell a story about the reader’s potential transformation • Tell them what they’ll learn • Describe the author’s background/origin of book • Set up the book with a call to action PART 1: HOOK THE READER An introduction has to hook the reader FAST. It should grab them by the lapels and force them to pay attention. Here are examples of hooks: • “Let’s start with a question: Why do certain groups perform better than other groups?” • “You’ve been told a lie. Everything you know about sugar is wrong.” • “I thought I was going to die.” • “We shot dogs. Not by accident. We did it on purpose, and we called it Operation Scooby. I’m a dog person, so I thought a lot about that.” OUTliNE ThE iNTrODUCTiON · 109

These all grab your attention. They make you sit up, take notice, and read the next line. There is no specific formula to figuring out your hook. These are the three questions we use to help determine what the hook is: • What is the most interesting story or claim in the book? • What sentence or fact makes people sit up and take notice? • What is the intended audience going to care about the most, or be most interested in or shocked by? Some other things to think about when finding your hook: • A great hook is counterintuitive, it violates or reverses expec- tations. • It’s the story people always ask you about. • It is NEVER the story that makes you look the best. Often the hook is an anecdote. One powerful way to write an anec- dotal hook well is to use the “cinematic” technique: tell it as if you are describing a scene in a movie. At its core, the hook makes the reader sit up and take notice. Though the first sentence must be effective, the rest of the page and initial story must do the same thing. An attention-grabbing sentence needs to lead into something that keeps them—a short story, example, statistic, or historical context that introduces the subject in a way that is interesting and excit- ing—will engage the reader and compel them to read more, and lead them into the rest of the material. PART 2: TELL A STORY ABOUT THE READER’S CURRENT PAIN Once you have the reader’s attention with the hook, the introduc- tion next answers the implicit reader question: “Why do I care?” 110 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Basically, what’s the reason the reader went to the bookstore? What problem were they looking to solve? This is NOT about giving the reader simple information. It’s not enough to list nothing but boring facts and figures. No one pays attention to that. People pay attention to stories, especially stories that resonate with their problems, pain, and conflicts. Once they are in touch with those pain points, then they want to hear about solutions that pro- vide relief and pleasure, and maybe even take them somewhere new in their life. This ties directly into the audience section you wrote in your posi- tioning. You should know your reader’s pain precisely, because you’ve already told that story once, at least in the abstract. The story or stories in the introduction should dive deep and describe the massive pain the reader is suffering by not taking the advice or lessons in your book. Pain induces action. PART 3: TELL A STORY ABOUT THE READER’S POTENTIAL TRANSFORMATION Once you’ve appealed to the reader’s pain point, then you should tell a story that describes the pleasure that comes from taking the action. Show them why the results are so amazing and that the goal is worth the pain. And most important—show them who they can become if they read and implement the ideas in your book. Again, this ties into your audience positioning—you already have this story, you did it in your audience section. Dive deep into it and provide more specifics. PART 4: TELL THEM WHAT THEY’LL LEARN Once you’ve laid out the pain and pleasure stories, and the reader understands what’s at stake for them by reading this book, then OUTliNE ThE iNTrODUCTiON · 111

you need to explain exactly how you’re going to help them solve their pain and get to their benefit. Make sure this is so clear and simple that even a seventh-grader could understand. It should be as basic as, “I’m going to show you precisely how to do this. I’ll walk you through, step by step by step, until you have mastered everything necessary to get your results.” You can even frame this as a bulleted list of what they will learn in the book. Just make sure that it sounds appealing, and not boring. Remember you are still selling them on reading the book. PART 5: DESCRIBE YOUR BACKGROUND/ORIGIN OF BOOK Once you’ve hooked the reader, appealed to their pain, and shown them the benefit they can have if they overcome it, now it’s time to explain who you are, why you wrote the book, and why the reader should trust what you have to say. Essentially, you’ll establish your authority to be their guide, and contextualize the book for them. The best way to do this, again, is to tell a story. Why did you write this book? Why does this subject matter to you? How did you learn enough to be in a position to teach what you know to people? Why are you qualified—even uniquely qualified—to write this book? Why should the reader credit what you have to say? This is where you can talk about your hero’s journey story—what it took for you to get to this place—because this is where the reader is wondering why they should trust you. After all, if you are going to help them by teaching them so much, they need to know why they should listen to you. But, and this is VERY important: remember that the reader doesn’t care about you. They only care about you and your story insofar 112 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

as it applies to the book and to your expertise. Do not give them an autobiography. Just enough about you to know that they should listen is all it takes. PART 6: WHAT THE BOOK IS AND IS NOT This is an optional part of the intro, but many authors like to put this in. By telling the reader what the book is and is not, it sets the right expectations in the beginning. You can do this very simply, mainly by stating what you will not be, and the things they will not get out of it. Underselling here, just a little, works great. PART 7: SET UP BOOK WITH CALL TO ACTION/SEGUE TO FIRST CHAPTER Once you have done all of this, then all that is left is a simple tran- sition to get the reader ready to dive in and start engaging the book. I know this all seems like a lot, so here is an example intro to help you see how it ties together: OUTliNE ThE iNTrODUCTiON · 113

EXAMPLE INTRODUCTION OUTLINE INTRODUCTION 1. HOOK “The doctors told me I was going to die. So did the nurses. In fact, everyone I talked to for the 41 days I was in that hospital told me I would die. They were wrong. But it wasn’t them or their care that saved me. It was an accident, caused when a tired janitor left his mop bucket in my room, that saved my life…and led to the breakthrough that has since saved millions of people.” 2. THE When the Cures Act was signed into law in 2016, pharmaceutical READER’S companies and healthcare product manufacturers were PROBLEM required to be more transparent so that more research outside of clinical trials was required. Suddenly, companies had to increase their understanding of patients. But these were only baby steps in understanding the depth of patients and their stories, and how their stories impact their healthcare. Healthcare products, devices, and drugs—healthcare solutions—impact patients and their families in a much more extensive way than healthcare professionals realize. They can make a difference in the quality of care for millions, just by understanding how anthropology and design thinking work together to create patient-centricity in healthcare. 3. THE Author will explain how the tenets of anthropology and READER’S design thinking work together in a healthcare marketing SOLUTION environment to benefit patients, their loved ones, and the healthcare product manufacturers involved. 4. WHAT Readers will learn how to design marketing messages and THEY’LL LEARN products that are grounded in patient education—solutions that support these patients in their daily lives as they tackle their healthcare challenges. Readers will become aware of the value of patient understanding and empowerment in healthcare marketing. 5. AUTHOR’S After a horrible hospital stay riddled with bad care, the author BACKGROUND/ started his company to address this human angle of healthcare BOOK ORIGIN that he found lacking in the product marketing side of the system. He felt that no one else was using anthropology, then design thinking, in the manufacture of healthcare solutions. He wanted to start with the patient to first understand them and their situation before creating the educational or marketing tools that would benefit the type of care they receive. 6. WHAT THE This book is presenting a new paradigm for healthcare marketers BOOK IS and product designers. However, it is not just a theoretical AND ISN’T presentation. Readers will learn how they can improve their business and the quality of healthcare with a more ethical, successful, patient-driven (and patient-centered) approach. 7. SEGUE TO Getting to know people—the humans beneath the FIRST CHAPTER patient—is the first step in quality healthcare. 114 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

WHY TO WRITE YOUR INTRO LAST Most authors find the introduction to be the hardest part of the book to write, and that’s why we recommend authors outline it LAST. WHY is it hardest and better when it’s done last? I tell authors we outline the intro last because we want it to hit hard and entice, and it’s easier to be more effective in that when we already have a spe- cific understanding of the full scope and key messaging of the book. You can’t effectively tease something if you don’t fully understand how it’s going to play out in practice. OUTliNE ThE iNTrODUCTiON · 115

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3.3 OUTliNE ThE CONClUSiON “Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.” —williaM butler yeatS Here’s the thing with book conclusions: if the reader got all the way to the conclusion, then it means they read the whole book, they liked it, and now they want to wrap this up. So don’t ramble on and on. Give them what they want. The goal of the conclusion is to tie everything together, neatly sum- marize your book, and then provide a specific call or calls to action for your reader. Don’t overcomplicate the conclusion—just let it do its job, and it’ll work great. WHAT A CONCLUSION SHOULD DO 1. A conclusion should clearly summarize the book. That’s the best thing you can do, not only to deliver value to the reader, but also to make the book memorable (and recommendable). OUTliNE ThE CONClUSiON · 117

2. A conclusion should address any lingering issues, and close any open loops. The reader should feel like everything is wrapped up in a bow. 3. A conclusion should have a call to action of some sort. In essence, tell the reader what to do. 4. A conclusion should point them to any additional resources you have for them that could help them. WHAT A CONCLUSION SHOULD NOT DO 1. A conclusion should NOT introduce any new content. This should only be a summarization of what is in the book. You can have new stories or anecdotes, of course. 2. A conclusion should not be too long. The rule of thumb is that it should be the shortest chapter in your book. 3. A conclusion should not break faith with the reader. Don’t tell them “operators are standing by” or try to sell them in a prepos- terous way that turns them off. CONCLUSION TEMPLATE We like to outline the conclusion with this template: • Hook • Restate the book’s thesis • Summarize Chapters • Call to action: what should the reader do when they finish the book? HOOK This is similar to what you put in the introduction, but instead of getting them to read the book, now you are wrapping everything up. This can be a story that summarizes the book, or you can close a loop from earlier in the book. But the point is, the reader should feel like the end of a movie, where everything feels nicely summarized. 118 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

By this time, you’ve mentioned a lot of different topics. Usually the easiest and most compelling way to begin the conclusion is by referring back to one (or more) of them. Or you can add another dimension to a story you already told or tie up loose ends. RESTATE THE BOOK’S MISSION/THESIS This is pretty simple, but make sure you again restate the book’s thesis. People like repetition; it reinforces and brings home points. SUMMARIZE CHAPTERS This is optional, but most good nonfiction books do this. They sum- marize the key points so succinctly and clearly that the reader can’t help but understand your lessons the same way that you do. You want the reader to think about and talk about your book to their friends the same way you do, and the best way to ensure they do that is to tell them precisely what to say to their friends. Put the words in their mouth. Specifically, this is about nailing what it is you want them to remem- ber about your book. What are the takeaways that really matter? How do you want them to talk about them? CALL TO ACTION When they finish the last word and put the book down, what is the first thing you want your reader to do? This is usually the final word, and this is what you leave them with. NOTE ON THE CALL TO ACTION A call to action (CTA) is not required in a conclusion, but most nonfiction books have them. It’s usually the very last bit of the OUTliNE ThE CONClUSiON · 119

conclusion, the final word to readers, and it ensures they know what you want them to do. Authors generally adopt a different tone with the CTA—one that’s not just more explicitly inspirational but is also framed as an imperative. The underlying message of the call to action is straight- forward and empowering: now that you have all the tools, go out there and use them. This is good, and readers tend to like it. Some authors feel uncom- fortable including such a direct appeal to readers because they may feel it’s unprofessional, and they can be right (sometimes). Authors often want to be too inspirational in the introduction, and not enough in the conclusion. This is when you can really tell your reader what to do, and be very direct. What you do not want to do is write a glorified sales brochure. The last thing you want to do here is try and pitch them something of yours to buy. Think about it—you’ve spent the whole book earning their trust, and now you sell them? Don’t do that. Most importantly because it doesn’t work very well. Readers are smart. They’re interested in your topic because they’ve picked up your book, and they’ve already read pages of your knowl- edge and expertise. They can form their own conclusions when it comes to contacting you. If you want to ask them to contact you, though, do so authentically— from a place of trying to help them, not yourself. Tell them you want to hear from them, or assist them moving forward. If your website or the name of your firm is in your bio or About the Author page, that’s sufficient. Give them your email in the conclusion if you like, and if you are sincere about responding to them. 120 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Ultimately, your goal is to provide so much value to them that they respect and admire you and your work, and choose to contact you because they have sold themselves, not because you sold them. Some authors want a more explicit CTA, such as directing readers of the book to a specific landing page. This can work, as long as the page you are directing them to gives the reader something. A key here is to give them something that they don’t feel should have been in the book. For example, a map or chart that is additive, but not crucial, to the content is great (and it doesn’t have to be in the introduction). What you don’t want to do is give them something that makes them think, “Why isn’t this in the book?” That just breaks faith with the reader. OUTliNE ThE CONClUSiON · 121

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4.1 hOW TO CrEATE yOUr BOOk WriTiNg PlAN “If you want to get something done, decide when and where you’re going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.” —peter bregMan There is only one hard and fast rule in writing: Do what works for you. That’s it. That being said, after decades of writing professionally and thou- sands of books published, I have seen some clear trends that hold true across lots of different people. What I do here is walk you through some of the most important things I’ve figured out. WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE A WRITING PLAN? Shouldn’t you just get inspired to write? If you wait until inspiration strikes, and then use that as fuel to write, you’ll be good, right? No. hOW TO CrEATE yOUr BOOk WriTiNg PlAN · 125

If you rely on inspiration to write your book, you will fail. There is one single thing that creates success with writing, and every single writer will tell you this: Discipline. It took me three years as a professional writer before I understood that I needed a writing plan for every book I wrote. Writing without a plan is like going cross-country without a map. Yeah, you might get there, but it’ll take you at least twice as long. You must sit your ass in the chair and write, just about every day, until the book is done. That is why you need a writing plan. Because it defines exactly what you will do to finish your book. Inspiration might be how you decide to start the book—and that’s fine—but discipline is how you’ll finish. WHAT IS A WRITING PLAN? You are an author now, and what does an author do? They write their book. EVERY DAY. A writing plan is nothing more than a specific plan that lays out exactly when and where you’re going to write each day, how much you will write, when everything is due, and what your accountabil- ity is. HOW TO CREATE YOUR WRITING PLAN STEP 1: SCHEDULE A TIME AND PLACE TO WRITE You must start by picking the exact time and place you will write each day. For example, you could write every day from 8 a.m. to 10 126 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

a.m., in your home office. Or from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Compass Coffee. This is not negotiable. If you tell yourself that you’ll “write when you have time” then the book won’t ever get done. If you don’t think about the environment where you will do your writing, you may very well not make effective use of that time you’ve set aside. With both of these elements, you want to be as specific as possible. The more you plan now, the less you have to think later. If the book matters, then you figure out precisely when and where you will write it. How Much Time Should You Write Each Day? We recommend writing for at least one hour per day. If you only have thirty minutes per day to write, then do that. The optimal amount of time is two hours, but very few people can set aside that much time. Also, be realistic. Most authors cannot write (effectively) for more than three hours a day. What Time of Day Should You Write? The data is very clear: most people are the most creative about an hour after they wake up, until about four hours after they wake up. That means you’re probably most creative in the morning. But outliers DO exist, and so do night owls. If you are one of those, honor it. All that matters is consistency and action. Make writing a routine that works for you, and you’ll do it. hOW TO CrEATE yOUr BOOk WriTiNg PlAN · 127

How Consistently Should You Write? If you can, write every day. Even if you only get through a half page per day, you’re that much closer to a finished book. If seven days a week is too much, then take one day off and write for six. God rested on the seventh day, so can you. The key thing to remember with a book is that you don’t stay where you are with a book; you either move forward or you move backward. Momentum is a key element in seeing a book through from begin- ning to end. You will make that decision each and every day for the duration of the book-writing process. Your plan will help you stay accountable, so you continue moving in the right direction. How Do You Pick Your Writing Location? It’s very simple to pick where you should write: where you get writing done. These are the general factors people consider when writing: ambi- ent noise, temperature, view, comfort, and isolation. A universal “correct” place to write doesn’t exist. If you write well in coffee shops, do that. If you write well at a desk in your basement, do that. Wherever you are most creative, most functional, and most confident, write there. Don’t waste time trying to find the “perfect place” to write, or a perfect tool, or the perfect desk. They don’t exist. People who get stuck on finding the perfect spot or the perfect inspiration to write are looking for a way to avoid the work. This unrecognized fear will cause them to wait for the perfect envi- ronment, but that perfect environment doesn’t exist. Even when accounting for someone’s personal preferences, if they think they’ve found the “perfect” writing place, that’s just the place 128 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

where they allow themselves to look past the distractions that exist everywhere (unless they write in a sensory deprivation tank). Focusing on the distractions is resistance, a way for people to avoid the hard work of actual writing. Every minute you spend trying to find the perfect anything is a minute you are stealing from your writing. Find the place and setting that works for you and then recreate that each day. If your initial location stops working for you after a while, acknowledge that, figure out what you need to change, and identify a new location. STEP 2: SET SPECIFIC WRITING GOALS In addition to scheduling the time and place of each writing ses- sion, also give yourself a specific writing goal for each session. We recommend a goal of 250 words per hour of writing. Why 250 words? It’s approximately the number of words per page in a printed book. So if you’re writing about 250 words a day, that’s about a page a day. Yes, this is a very low goal. But a low goal is good. A low goal is not intimidating, so it will help you get started. It will also make you feel good when you surpass it, and entice you to keep writing. This is a classic sales technique—lowering the quota to inspire action—that works wonderfully with writing. The best part is that it adds up quickly: By writing just 250 words a day, you can get a 120-page (30,000- word) first draft done in about 4 months. That is fast, and you’ll do it with what feels like very little effort. As you can see, it’s all about consistency. hOW TO CrEATE yOUr BOOk WriTiNg PlAN · 129

STEP 3: BUILD DEADLINES Deadlines force action and demand accountability. Below is a rough outline of how to pace yourself, which you can adjust to your schedule. If you want to move fast, give yourself a deadline of about a chapter a week. If you want to move at a reasonable speed, give yourself two weeks per chapter. If you want to move slower, allow three weeks. If you have a hectic life, do a chapter per month. And then question if you have the time to even do this. STEP 4: ANNOUNCE THE BOOK To take accountability one step further: announce that you are work- ing on a book. Use whatever social media platform you prefer, but the point is to publicly claim your intention to people you care about. You’ll get a lot of positive feedback, which will help you start, and the fact that you have announced your intention will help you push through when you are wavering. Note: If you’re serious about writing this book, the platform you’re most uncomfortable about putting it on is the one you should use. That means it’s the one with the most people on it that you care about. If you are afraid of telling them, it’s all the more reason to do it. Remember, we want to identify any and all resistance and push through it. 130 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

STEP 5: KEEP YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE There are many ways to keep yourself accountable, but the best and most reliable method we’ve seen is to post your daily word count. We recommend all of our authors in the Scribe Guided Author pro- gram do this in our private Facebook Group. By doing this, you get all the benefits of accountability: 1. The daily push to ensure you actually sit down and write your 250 words. 2. The encouragement that comes from everyone else for getting it done. 3. The habit gets built by doing the work, and then posting about it. NOTE: FOCUS ON WHAT WORKS What I just laid out for you is a tested, proven method. It will work. That doesn’t make it the “right” method. There is no “right” method. The only “right” method of writing is the one that works for you. For example, we have one author who can only write by sitting in his Tesla while it is charging in his garage, putting a specific playlist on his phone, plugging in earbuds, and turning up the volume. He knows he has forty-five minutes of charge time to get his work done, and he makes the most of that window. There is only the method that WORKS for you. ALWAYS feel free to use what works. So if any part of this feels off, substitute what makes more sense for you. That being said—unless you KNOW you have a method that works better for you—assume what I’m telling you is the best way to do it. Our writing plan is based both on decades of experience with actual authors, and the best empirical data about how authors succeed. hOW TO CrEATE yOUr BOOk WriTiNg PlAN · 131

WHAT IF I MISS A DAY OF WRITING? Forgive yourself, and move on. It’s fine. “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” —JaCk london 132 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

4.2 ThE SCriBE gUiDE TO WriTiNg EffECTivE NONfiCTiON “When you’re forced to be simple, you’re forced to face the real problem. When you can’t deliver ornament, you have to deliver substance.” —paul grahaM Remember writing essays in school with a minimum word count? If you were like me, you’re guilty of turning “they said” into “they then proceeded to vocally exclaim…” I can’t think of a worse way to learn to write. I didn’t have five pages of thoughts about Paul Revere’s ride, but being forced to write that much forced me to write convoluted sen- tences packed with unnecessary words to pad my essay and hit the space requirement. What I didn’t learn in school is how to write something people want to read. That is the key to nonfiction, and it’s never covered in school. ThE SCriBE gUiDE TO WriTiNg EffECTivE NONfiCTiON · 133

Great nonfiction is short, simple, direct, and about the reader. THE FOUR SCRIBE WRITING PRINCIPLES 1. MAKE IT SHORT This is the most important principle. If you get this one right, the rest (usually) take care of themselves. Keep your writing short on all levels. Short chapters (usually no more than 4k words). Short paragraphs (2-3 sentences). Short sen- tences (5-20 words). Even shorter words (less than 12 characters). Brevity forces economy and effectiveness. When you put a space constraint on your writing, it compels you to focus on the essential and cut the rest. The same applies with words. Short words force you to be clear. How many times have you seen someone use big words to mask their lack of true understanding? Hey professor, throwing in “obsequiousness” doesn’t make you sound smart—it just tunes people out. One key point: make it as short as possible without leaving anything out. Short does not mean missing essential content. 2. MAKE IT SIMPLE Simple is very similar to short, but not the same thing. You can write something that’s short but complex. That doesn’t work well. Simple words and sentences force you to write in plain English. Even difficult and complex ideas can be broken down into small words and short sentences. As Richard Feynman said, if you cannot explain your idea simply, it probably means you don’t fully under- stand it (which is bad, if you’re writing a book). Simple words and sentences also enable you to be understood by 134 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

far more readers. Nonfiction writing is generally about persua- sion. You are writing to try to convince or persuade someone of something. The main technique to convince someone is to keep things simple. How can you persuade someone or convince them to do something if they don’t fully understand what you’re trying to tell them? Simple also means getting rid of extra words. Any word not abso- lutely necessary to convey your point must go. 3. MAKE IT DIRECT Most nonfiction writing is indirect in some way—passive voice, jargon, multiple clauses, heavy use of adjectives and adverbs. Don’t do these things. If you’re doing them, stop. If you aren’t sure what they are, then do this: Make each sentence a single, clear statement. Connect it to the sen- tence before and the sentence after. Do not put multiple thoughts in one sentence. Make your writing as direct as it can be. I have to explain passive and active voice, because most people don’t know what it is. Active voice means the subject of the sen- tence is performing the verb. Passive voice means the subject of the sentence receives the action. Even though they mean the same thing, the effect is very different. Example: Active: Tucker wrote the book. Passive: The book was written by Tucker. Active voice is much easier for people to read because they can picture the sentence. You can see Tucker writing a book. ThE SCriBE gUiDE TO WriTiNg EffECTivE NONfiCTiON · 135

But in the passive voice, there is another cognitive step. You have to first imagine a book, then think about Tucker writing that book. This small cognitive step makes a huge difference in how people respond to your writing. That’s not the worst part of indirect, passive voice writing. Do you hate corporate bullshit writing? All of it is in passive voice. It’s used by people in power to avoid responsibility. Watch: Active: I made a mistake. Passive: Mistakes were made. Be direct. 4. MAKE IT ABOUT THE READER Ask yourself this question about everything you write: “Why does the reader care?” This is the hardest principle to apply, because when you do this, you realize that most of your writing is for yourself—not the reader. You see your writing for what it probably is: selfish, indulgent, and grandiose. If that happens, don’t get down on yourself. That is common. Only every author ever has had that problem. All you have to do is stop writing about things the reader doesn’t care about and focus on what they do. CONCLUSION Short, simple, direct, about the reader. 136 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Those are the four keys to effective nonfiction writing. Easy to understand. Not always easy to do. These principles fly in the face of decades of conventional school training about writing. I was not taught these in school. In fact, I was taught almost all the opposite. It took me a decade of professional writing before I figured out that these work. “It’s the mark of a genius to explain a complex topic in a simple way.” —naval ravikant ThE SCriBE gUiDE TO WriTiNg EffECTivE NONfiCTiON · 137

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4.3 hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE vOMiT METhOD) What we’ve found working with thousands of authors is that almost all of them know how to write out their ideas. What they need most is what we’ve already gone over: defined book positioning and a clear book plan. From there, the writing itself is easy. Where problems arise is in the mindset around writing. Let’s talk about that. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO WRITE A MEDIOCRE FIRST DRAFT This is a simple thing, but one that most people skip: Give yourself permission to write a mediocre first draft. Most beginning authors have this notion that professional writers put out amazing first drafts, or that their first draft has to be really good. That is nonsense. hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE vOMiT METhOD) · 139

I can tell you, as a professional writer who has written multiple New York Times Best Sellers, my first drafts are utter garbage. Worse than mediocre. They are terrible. But that doesn’t bother me, because I know I can edit them until they are not terrible. The Barbara Kingsolver quote tells it all: 1. To begin, give yourself permission to write a bad book. 2. Revise until it’s not a bad book. THE WONDERS OF THE “VOMIT DRAFT” Many people struggle with giving themselves permission to write a mediocre first draft, so we developed a concept called the “vomit draft.” We literally call the first draft the “vomit draft.” This is because when you’re vomiting, you don’t care about looking beautiful or being elegant. When you’re vomiting, you just want to get it all out, because that’s the only way to get it over with. And the only way to get it all out is to keep going through the pain. What’s cool about the vomit draft is, unlike vomiting in front of people, your vomit draft is ONLY for you. You are the only person who will ever see it, and you will edit this before even your editor sees it. By focusing on just getting it out, it stops you from reading and editing as you go, which inevitably slows you down and stalls you. When you write something you think is garbage, just say, “That’s a problem for Future Tucker!” and keep moving. 140 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

WRITE YOUR VOMIT DRAFT WITHOUT STOPPING TO EDIT This might be the most important advice in this book, so pay attention: Write your vomit draft as quickly as possible. Don’t stop. Don’t edit. Move forward without looking back until your vomit draft is done. Let me repeat that and break it down to be very clear and sure you got it: Write your vomit draft as quickly as possible. DO NOT STOP TO READ IT. DO NOT EDIT. MOVE FORWARD UNTIL YOUR VOMIT DRAFT IS DONE. I cannot be more serious or literal about this. In fact, I want you to say this out loud, right now: “I will not edit my vomit draft until I am done writing it.” The quickest way to derail a vomit draft is to start editing before you finish. I don’t care who you are—if you start editing your vomit draft, you WILL get stuck. If you edit during the vomit draft stage, the best-case scenario is you double the amount of time it takes to write the book. WHY DOES THIS WORK? Using the Vomit Draft Method does two things: 1. It suspends your self-judgment. hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE vOMiT METhOD) · 141

2. Creates momentum through daily victories (getting 250 words per day and celebrating that adds up, and reframes how you see yourself). If you edit as you write, it totally derails your book. The bully in your brain, the part of you that is ridiculously hard on yourself, will start to second-guess you and shame you and will, at best, slow you down—if not kill your motivation altogether. If you think something is terrible and you hate it, that’s fine. Use the “comment” function to highlight it and say, “This is your problem, Future Tucker,” and then move on. You’ll get to it later. I’m going to say this again: the vomit draft is for you. NO ONE but you will ever read it. Once you start editing (which I will explain how to do next), that is when you focus on what people will think. The part of yourself that wants to edit as you go—the perfectionist, the self-critical part—that is a great editor, but a terrible writer. Put it away until the vomit draft is done. FINDING YOUR VOICE For some reason, when it comes time to writing, lots of authors become obsessed with “finding their voice.” I’ll often tease authors and ask them things like, “Hey, did you look behind your sofa? Your voice might be there.” The joke is silly, but the point is right—you don’t “find” your voice outside of yourself. Your voice is already a part of who you are. Your job as an author is to get out of the way and let it out. The second thing authors do wrong is trying to mimic a voice. You can’t be Malcolm Gladwell, you can only be you, so don’t try to be. 142 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

So how do you make sure it’s your voice in your book? There are two frames we recommend authors take: VOICE FRAME #1: CONVERSATION WITH A FRIEND This is the most common mental frame that our authors use. When they sit down to write, they envision themselves talking to a friend. This is literally the frame I used to write this section—I pretended to explain this to a friend of mine. Getting in that state of mind does several things: • It relieves any anxiety, because this is just a conversation with friends. • It helps keep my focus on the listener, because they’re a friend and I want to be attentive to them. • It helps me stay centered on providing value to the listener, because in a teaching-style conversation, I am only thinking about what the other person is learning and taking in. • It helps me keep momentum and motivation, because I want to make sure I am always helpful to my friend. John Steinbeck says it best: Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, face- less audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person — a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one. VOICE FRAME #2: HELP A STRANGER HEAL THE SAME PAIN YOU HAD This is very similar to the “conversation with a friend” frame, but it is also different in a few ways. If you envision yourself helping a stranger solve a painful problem, you do these things: hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE vOMiT METhOD) · 143

• You make it much easier to be brave in your writing and get past any fear or anxiety, because you are focused on their pain. • You focus on specific and actionable information, which will make your book better and more meaningful to your readers. • It helps you keep momentum and motivation, because you are focused on alleviating their pain. Uber Cool Trick: Combine the two. If you envision yourself talking to a friend AND helping them through something difficult you’ve already done, that might be the best of both worlds. Both of these methods allow you to get out of your own way and let your voice come through naturally. Why? Because you aren’t actually thinking about voice. You are focused on the reader. Focusing on the reader, rather than on yourself, is a superpower technique you can use at every stage to create an effective, successful book. Don’t worry about being a writer, just help people, and your voice will take care of itself. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN ENERGY? Most authors who ask about “energy” are really asking about some- thing else. This is generally fear or anxiety taking another form. Go look at the fear chapter for reminders on how to deal with that. That being said, the most important aspect of energy is maintaining a baseline of self-care, and then having a schedule and sticking to it. If you do those two things, you’ll generate and protect most of your energy levels. 144 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

HOW DO YOU BEAT PROCRASTINATION? Like almost everything that stops you from sitting down and writing, procrastination is a symptom of fear in another form. If you find yourself procrastinating, then ask yourself if you believe in your plan and your outline. Sometimes procrastination is your subconscious telling you that something is wrong with your plan. Look at your plan for your book again. Examine it, and ask yourself if you believe in each section. If you don’t, then fix wherever you see a problem, and you should be good. Also, another great way to beat procrastination is to use public accountability. When you are lagging on your book, post about it, and that will help you get support and make sure you find the will to keep going. SHOULD YOU WRITE SEQUENTIALLY? For most authors, you’re better off going sequentially unless you get stuck. If you get stuck, leave it, and go to the next place you can pick up. Fill in holes later. HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR BOOK BE? We tell our authors that their book should be as short as possible, without leaving anything out. You should not write thinking about length, but you should remem- ber to keep your book as short and focused as possible. Shorter books are much better. They sell better, they are more read, more engaged, and more impactful. The data we have on this is very clear: books under 100 pages don’t sell as well (lower perception of value), books between 100 and 199 pages sell the best, books between 200 and 299 pages sell almost hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE vOMiT METhOD) · 145

as well as the ones in the hundreds, and books over 300 pages sell the least (that length is a big investment of time). As a rule of thumb, you can assume about 250 words per printed page, so 100-199 pages is 25k-50k words. DON’T USE JARGON Make sure your voice is accessible, and not full of needless jargon. If you find yourself wanting to use jargon, go back to your ideal reader and ask yourself, “Will they understand this? Is this neces- sary to effectively communicate with them?” Now, if your audience likes jargon and wants to hear that in a book addressed to them, then use it. Just make sure it’s appropriate to your audience. TYPING VS. WRITING BY HAND This is not going to be the right choice for everyone, but it is a valid choice you can absolutely make: instead of typing your vomit draft out, you can write it out by hand. For some people, this works really, really well. It provides these benefits: • Stops them from going back and editing, because that process is now so difficult. • Makes it easier for them to get in the flow and just surrender to the writing process. • For some people, the handwriting is a cleaner cognitive con- nection to the ideas than typing. This is NOT true for all people, but definitely for some. This author sums up the benefits to her well: 146 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

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4.4 hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE SCriBE METhOD) “You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain.” —MiyaMoto MuSaShi THE SCRIBE METHOD The idea behind the Scribe Method is very simple: instead of facing a blank page and typing your first draft, you get your first draft down by speaking it out loud. You record yourself, then get the recording transcribed. You then edit that transcript into the first draft. This will not get you to a final draft, but it substantially accelerates the writing process. This method is an updated version of the old way books used to be written: they were dictated to professional scribes. If you know you want to do it this way, skip down to “How to Use The Scribe Method.” hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE SCriBE METhOD) · 149

If you still aren’t sure and need some convincing, read the next section. WHY DO IT THIS WAY? Writing is challenging for most people. Why? It’s not because they are stupid or lazy or unskilled. It’s because writing requires deep, specialized skill. The writing skill is a totally different skill from having intelligence, wisdom, experience, or knowledge to share. Think about it: How many intelligent and accomplished people do you know who have all kinds of things to say, but hate writing? Quite a few, I am sure (you might even be one). The inverse is true, as well. How many skilled and experienced writers have you read who use lots of beautiful words to effectively say nothing? Sadly, that might describe the majority of professional writers. Writing is a specific cognitive skill that is totally distinct from think- ing and acquiring wisdom. Just like the ability to do math in your head is a skill distinct from being a good mathematician (Richard Feynman, the brilliant quantum physicist, often used calculators), or the ability to read sheet music is not a necessary skill to be a - great musician (Jimi Hendrix, the legendary guitarist and per former, couldn’t read sheet music), writing has nothing to do with anything other than the ability to write. This begs the question: Is the skill of writing really a necessary part of sharing knowledge and ideas? 150 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

After all, if the ultimate goal of a book is to share your knowledge and ideas with the world, is there another way to record this wisdom without having to physically write it down yourself? Of course there’s another way to share knowledge and wisdom: by talking. Talking is the most natural way to communicate ideas and information between humans. We’ve been talking for at least 150,000 years, but we’ve only been writing for about 10,000 of those. Think about people with dyslexia. Some of the smartest, most accomplished people on earth—Richard Branson, for example— can barely write an email. Branson is not stupid, nor is anyone else just because they have dyslexia. Those with dyslexia are never able to efficiently develop writing and reading functions. Simply put, some human brains are not optimized to read or write text, but we are all optimized to talk and listen. Richard Branson can’t write, but he can absolutely talk. In fact, most of human knowledge throughout antiquity was shared and recorded through oral history. For most people, talking is easier than writing, but that still leaves the work of turning the talking into a book. Is there a way for a person to talk about their wisdom and ideas, instead of writing them down, and use that talking as the basis for the book? Yes, of course there is, and people have been leveraging this method throughout history. Here’s a very short list of people whose words still move the world, yet they never wrote anything down: • Socrates never wrote anything down, Plato recorded his words. hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE SCriBE METhOD) · 151

• Jesus Christ…never wrote down a word, the Apostles (like Paul) did. • Buddha never wrote any of his teachings, his disciples did. • Marco Polo told his cellmate about his travels while they were in jail, and his cellmate (who was an actual scribe) wrote them down. • Dostoyevsky dictated his novels to his wife, who wrote them down. • Winston Churchill dictated most of his writing to his secretary. • Malcolm X dictated his iconic autobiography to journalist Alex Haley. For thousands of years, writing was a specific job, different from thinking. People who did the writing were called “scribes,” and they were not themselves the esteemed thinkers and influencers of their era (what we would now call a “thought leader”). They were considered artisans with particular skills, like those of lawyers or mechanics. Take one of the most prolific authors of the Roman age, the great Julius Caesar. He used scribes to record almost every single line in all of his letters and books. Why did he use scribes instead of writing them himself? For the obvious reason: his time was too valuable to be spent mas- tering the skill of writing words so they read properly on the page. Julius Caesar spent his time thinking and doing things, not writing. Caesar had scribes record his thoughts as he spoke them out loud, and then he signed his name to them. His volumes of letters and correspondences are all rightly authored by him, yet he “wrote” none of the actual words down. That’s why we advocate the scribe process for some people: it 152 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

works, it saves time, and it even generally makes for better writing. It is how many of history’s most important figures recorded their wisdom for posterity. In summary, the reasons you might want to use this method: 1. Much easier: it gets you a very rough draft to edit in about 30 percent of the time it will take you to write a first draft. 2. Much faster: saves you the time and anxiety of contending with a blank page. 3. Makes a better book: it forces you to teach your knowledge in a way that is reader centric. WHO SHOULD NOT USE THE SCRIBE METHOD? Here are the main reasons not to use the Scribe Method: 1. You’re used to writing: You’re used to writing—i.e., “thinking through your fingers”—and learning a new method would be counterproductive at this point. A number of professional writ- ers are like this (myself included). 2. You don’t know the topic well: You don’t actually know your topic well enough to teach it out loud yet. In essence, you have to figure out your book as you write it. This is also common for writers, but less common for the authors we work with. 3. You’re afraid of a new method: There is nothing wrong with being uncertain about a “new” method. If you feel more confi- dent with the methods you know better, then use them. Again, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to write a book. The right way is the way that works for you and that ultimately results in a published book. HOW TO USE THE SCRIBE METHOD The Scribe process is very simple: instead of writing down the first hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE SCriBE METhOD) · 153

draft, you take the outline and record yourself speaking through it, as if you were teaching your knowledge to someone or giving a lecture. Then you get it transcribed, and then use that transcription as the foundation of your rough draft. STEP 1: PREPARE TO RECORD YOUR AUDIO Technology makes the logistics of recording your content incredibly easy. There are an infinite number of ways to record yourself and a number of services you can use to get that recording transcribed. Your computer or iPhone has a built-in recorder. You can use that easily. We recommend one service specifically, simply because they make everything so simple: The cost is $1 per minute, which is standard in the industry. There is also an app called Temi that uses AI to transcribe, and it’s only $0.10 per minute. The quality is lower than human transcription, but considering it’s 90 percent cheaper, that’s a worthwhile option as well. Because you are going to have your recording transcribed, be sure to create a quality audio file that will produce a clean and complete transcript. That means no background noise (like side conversa- tions), and a good enough microphone, placed close to your mouth, to cleanly capture everything you say. You don’t need anything fancy—iPhone earbud microphones are great. This should be obvious, but only record one chapter at a time, and one chapter per audio file. This makes the transcripts easy to manage. For a final book of 30,000 words, you’ll have around 10-12 chapters, and should aim for six to eight hours of interview recording. This means about 30-45 minutes per chapter. 154 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Obviously, you won’t be able to do this all in one sitting. It is import- ant that you divvy out the length and make sure to get enough interview material for each chapter. STEP 2: TIPS FOR RECORDING YOUR ROUGH DRAFT Here are some tips and ideas to keep in mind while you are deliver- ing your first draft—all strategies we’ve found to be true in the past: A. Frame it as teaching Think about who the ideal audience is for this book, and then pre- tend that you are talking to them. Go back to your avatar. If you can picture a real person you know who fits that mold, that will make this even easier. Anticipate what this reader will be most interested in, what they would want to know next, and what questions they would have. Be as thorough as humanly possible—even if it seems ridiculous— with the details of your instructions or inquiries. Make sure not to gloss over any steps or rungs in the ladder leading up to your conclusion, even if they seem trivial or self-evident, because the reader won’t fully understand unless you explain everything. B. Stay with the outline Your outline is sequential for a reason; don’t just move through it randomly from point to point. Stay with the outline, and on the point you mean to make. Remember, this is the foundation of the first draft, so the more you stay with the outline and on track, the easier it will be for you to use the transcript to write the book. You may realize you want to add or subtract information at some point down the line. That is precisely what later drafts are for. For now, stick with the outline. hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE SCriBE METhOD) · 155

C. Explain everything completely If you were lecturing simply to make your point, you could do it very quickly. But that’s not the point of you speaking. You are teaching so the eventual reader will learn. Your goal is to get a full, complete explanation out—far more than you probably need—so when you sit down to write out the book from your audio transcription, everything is there. The book needs to contain enough information to explain the concepts to unin- formed, as well as informed, readers. More is almost always better than less, so please say everything that comes to mind on the current point, especially anything you think is relevant. Don’t worry about phrasing things eloquently, explaining everything perfectly on your first try, or not rambling. Substance matters more than style; you only need to worry about getting the substance right. It’s much easier to cut words than to add words in places where you don’t explain enough. If you feel like you’re being too obvious, always remember this quote by Nina Paley: “Don’t be original; be obvious. When you state the obvious, you actu- ally seem original.” CREATING YOUR ROUGH DRAFT FROM THE TRANSCRIPT Once you get the transcript of your audio recording from the tran- scription service, you will start the process of “translating” that audio transcript into book prose, which will be your first draft. Here’s how to take the raw transcript and turn it into a rough draft: STEP 1: ORGANIZE YOUR CHAPTERS If you recorded each chapter as its own audio file, then you will get them back from the transcriptionist in their own separate Word files. 156 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

The easiest way we’ve found to edit these is this method: 1. Create a new document (in Word or Google Docs) 2. Copy and paste the outline sections from each chapter at the top of the corresponding chapter transcript 3. Paste the entire audio transcript for each chapter below the chapter outline This gets you the chapter structure up top, and the work on the audio transcript right below it. STEP 2: “TRANSLATE” THE AUDIO TRANSCRIPT INTO BOOK PROSE Once you have each chapter organized, you’re going to “translate” your audio text into book prose. This is not as challenging as orig- inal writing, since the words and ideas are there. But this is important: this is not editing. You will need to re-write the transcript in most cases. There are a number of ways to do this, but there is one process that is most effective for us. It’s counterintuitive, but the trick is to go slowly in order to finish more quickly. These are the exact steps we recommend going through for each chapter: • We use a two-document process. One open document that the transcript is in. The other is the manuscript draft. You should “read, digest, write,” shifting attention from transcript to man- uscript. • We recommend you go paragraph by paragraph, rewriting each one transcription passage onto the manuscript. The point is you need to physically type your new chapters, para- graph by paragraph. DO NOT just edit the existing chunks of raw transcription. hOW TO WriTE yOUr firST DrAfT (ThE SCriBE METhOD) · 157

Why not just edit the transcription directly? Because writing this way is MUCH easier than editing your tran- scription into writing that reads well on the page. There’s a tendency to want to turn off your brain and use exactly what you say in the transcription, verbatim. This leads to the need for a LOT of editing, and ends up making the process pretty painful. Once you get your transcript back, you’ll see that transcribed audio is not written English. It’s not even close. Attempting to edit it will drive you crazy. It’s much better to read and absorb the spirit of what each paragraph of the transcript is trying to say, and then start fresh with sentences that make sense on the page. This is essentially translating from one medium, audio, to another, writing. Of course, there will be places where you can almost exactly use your words from the transcript. When that happens, it’s great, and it makes your job easier. But for most people, this won’t happen often. Note: In some cases, this may include adding content that isn’t in the transcript. Some ideas require some expansion to connect properly. You will need to add transitions or connections that aren’t part of the transcript. This is totally fine, of course. They’re your ideas, after all. If this gets hard, and it will, just keep going. This is where it’s easy to give up. You’ll regret it if you do. Again, don’t worry about being perfect, as you’re going to come back and do an edit later. This is just getting the first draft done. You’re getting something down that you can come back to and per- fect later. 158 · ThE SCriBE METhOD


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5.1 hOW TO EDiT yOUr BOOk “When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” —Stephen king Congratulations! It feels amazing to get through the first draft. Reward yourself with some time to rest and relax. The hardest part is over. You now have a real book in your hands, even if it is rough. When I say take some time to rest and relax, I’m very serious. Set the entire thing aside for at least a week, ideally two. This will give you a valuable fresh perspective when you come back and begin editing. It’s possible to begin editing immediately, but the result won’t be as good. This is part of why we tell you to schedule two months for your editing—to give you a buffer to rest your mind and come back at your manuscript, fresh. [By the way, if you wrote your book using the Scribe Nonfiction Writing Principles, then all of the editing instructions will dovetail perfectly.] hOW TO EDiT yOUr BOOk · 161

HOW TO APPROACH EDITING As you start editing, there are two frames we recommend you keep in mind: 1. The book is for your reader, not for you. 2. Edit for a 12-year-old. They sound weird? Lemme explain. 1. THE BOOK IS FOR YOUR READER, NOT FOR YOU Yes of course the book is yours. Yes, it probably has a lot of your stories in it—in fact it should. Yes, the book is going to create benefits for you. But as we discussed in positioning, if you want the book to help you, then the book has to provide value to the reader. In essence, to get what you want, you must give them what they want. That is much easier said than done. Here are some facts about read- ers. They are: 1. Impatient 2. Selfish 3. Ignorant (about your subject) I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just how all readers are (includ- ing you and me). The reality is that in a book, you are buying the attention of the reader, ONE PARAGRAPH AT A TIME. You can write the book without worrying about fact, but once you start editing, it becomes very important. The point is that, as you write, you can think of yourself, but as you edit, you need to be thinking about your reader. 162 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

How do you think about them? This leads directly to the next frame. 2. EDIT FOR A 12-YEAR-OLD What’s the bestselling novel of the past three decades? 50 Shades of Grey. Which is written at a teenage/young adult level. What’s the bestselling novel series of the past three decades? Harry Potter. Which is written at a teenage/young adult level. Even though those books were written at the reading level of teen- age audiences, 80 percent of 50 Shades audience was adults, and 60 percent of the Harry Potter audience was adults. [The Young Adult designation actually is for adults who don’t want complex language, not actually for teens. Yes, people think it’s for teens, but that is not the majority of book buyers for YA fiction.] Why am I telling you this? What does fiction have to do with you? Because when you write for a smart, interested 12-year-old, it forces you to be clear and direct—which in turn makes your book MORE appealing to older audiences. I know this might seem far-fetched, but think about this: On the list of the 10 bestselling business books of the past 30 years, there are three very short and simple NOVELS. I’m not kidding: • Who Moved My Cheese? • The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team hOW TO EDiT yOUr BOOk · 163

• The One Minute Manager What is the lesson for you here? Telling simple and compelling stories to convey your point WORKS. Writing for a smart, interested 12-year-old forces you to be clear and direct—which in turn makes your book MORE appealing to older audiences. If you do that—without being condescending in tone—the book will probably be as clear and direct as you need it to be. I’m not saying to be simplistic. I’m not saying to leave out any important information. I’m not even telling you to dumb anything down—far from it. I am telling you to write your ideas in a digestible, direct way such that a smart and interested 12-year-old could understand them. To be clear, that doesn’t mean your ideas themselves have to be simple; it just means your presentation of them is simple and direct. The problem is that so many people think good writing is compli- cated and difficult to read. That is not true. There are some fields, like academia, where writing in a needlessly complex way is given high status. But outside of those fields, the more direct and simple the writing is, the more accessible your actual ideas will be, and the better the book will do with readers—which is how you get everything you want as well. THE THREE-STEP EDITING METHOD We recommend a three-step editing process: 164 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

1. Make-It-Right Edit: Make sure everything is in there, in the right order, and it all makes sense. 2. Line-by-Line Edit: Go deep into the chapters, paragraphs, and sentences to make sure it says exactly what you want. 3. Read-Aloud Edit: Read the manuscript out loud—preferably to a person—and make sure it sounds right to the ear. PART 1: MAKE-IT-RIGHT EDIT This should be the easiest and most simple editing pass. There are three goals to the “make-it-right” edit. You want to ensure that: 1. All content is in the book 2. In the right order 3. The structure and positioning all make sense This is basically just making sure the book has everything in it so you can actually begin the deep editing. All the writing and stories that need to be in, are in, and they are in the right order, and it all makes sense. That’s pretty much it. Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be. PART 2: LINE-BY-LINE EDIT This is the framework we use for our line-by-line editing. It’s simple to understand, but powerful if you do it right. It gives you the exact questions to ask yourself at each level of editing: As you read every chapter, ask yourself these six questions: 1. What point am I making? 2. Is it necessary? 3. Is it as short as possible? 4. Is it as simple as possible? hOW TO EDiT yOUr BOOk · 165

5. Is it as direct as possible? 6. Did I leave anything out? We mean this literally—ask yourself these questions, each time. Yes, this is tedious. But if you do this exercise consistently, it becomes second nature. Once that happens, you’ll find that you cannot only cut the fluff out of your book, you can also make your book sharper and more refined, and you’ll be able to hone in on what you are trying to say, and nail it. Do it for each paragraph, then do it for each sentence. If you do this, you’ll have an excellent book. [By the way, I adapted these instructions from George Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language, which contains editing instructions from arguably the greatest writer of the twentieth century.] [As an optional tool to help you do line-by-line editing, we recom- mend the Hemingway Editor:] PART 3: READ-ALOUD EDITING This is an editing process that’s not commonly taught but is a secret trick of numerous bestselling authors. Brené Brown, Neil Strauss, myself—we all do this. When I was first writing I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, I had teams of proofreaders working through the book. First I proofread it, then I had the help of professional editor friends, and finally the publishing company had their people do their copyedits. I did not think that a single mistake would sneak by, and happily locked in the manuscript. 166 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

A few months later I recorded my audiobook, and as I read through the manuscript out loud, I was horrified. There were 100 tiny little mistakes and changes I only heard once I said them out loud. Not just spelling; there were very few of those. They were more word choice or phrasing mistakes. It drove me NUTS. Don’t make the mistake I made. Read your manuscript out loud, and mark changes as you go. If the words roll off your tongue, they’ll also flow smoothly in read- ers’ heads. Because I waited until so late in the process to read it out loud, it was too late to make edits to the book. Learn from my mistake and read your manuscript out loud and make your changes before you start the publishing process. If you find taking the time to sit and read out loud difficult (and a lot of authors do), we recommend having a friend help you out. If someone is sitting in the room with you, listening as you read through the manuscript, it’ll create the social pressure you need to actually do it. If it’s something you would say out loud, then it reads clearly on the page. If it’s something you would never say to another person, it won’t read as clearly. This sounds crazy, but it works. Paul Graham explains why: Ok, so written and spoken language are different. Does that make written language worse? If you want people to read and understand what you write, yes. Written language is more complex, which makes it more work to read. It’s also hOW TO EDiT yOUr BOOk · 167

more formal and distant, which gives the readers’ attention permis- sion to drift. You don’t need complex sentences to express complex ideas. When specialists in some abstruse topic talk to one another about ideas in their field, they don’t use sentences any more complex than they do when talking about what to have for lunch. They use different words, certainly. But even those they use no more than necessary. And in my experience, the harder the subject, the more informally experts speak. Partly, I think, because they have less to prove, and partly because the harder the ideas you’re talking about, the less you can afford to let language get in the way. If you simply manage to write in spoken language, you’ll be ahead of 95 percent of writers. And it’s so easy to do: just don’t let a sentence through unless it’s the way you’d say it to a friend. The reason reading your manuscript out loud works so well is because you will catch dozens of things you would have otherwise missed. Like Paul says, hearing yourself speak forces you to notice bad or strange phrasings—even if you don’t know why it’s off, you know it’s off. STEP 1: READ IT OUT LOUD TO A PERSON If possible, read each chapter to a person. I know, that sounds awful and tedious, but reading to actual people forces you to really hear what is and is not working. It’s an incredible forcing function. If you can’t do that, then set up a microphone and record yourself as you read aloud. You can delete the recording afterward. All that matters is that you are reading it OUT LOUD. This is KEY to making this process work. 168 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

You have to read it to a real person though. It doesn’t really work any other way. If you can’t do this, then there is another solution: use Natu- ral Reader. It translates your text to speech, so it’s like someone else reading your manuscript to you: online/. Then you listen to what your words are saying—you’ll hear the errors. STEP 2: EDIT BY FEEL As you read, you will naturally ask yourself: “Does this sound the same way I’d say it to an actual person? Does it feel right to me?” You (and the other person) will inevitably hear errors, phrasings you want to change, and sentences that sound off that you want corrected. As you read it out loud, correct your mistakes. If you “feel” something is off, and aren’t sure how to change it, that’s fine—just mark it the first time through. The first time reading it, you want to hear the problems, so you can go back and fix them on the page later. “In general, what is written must be easy to read and easy to speak; which is the same.” —ariStotle HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I EDIT? We recommend that authors do each phase one time. If you do them right, one time each is enough. For some manuscripts, a second line-by-line edit makes sense. hOW TO EDiT yOUr BOOk · 169

It’s important to note: we recommend three rounds, because our authors go from these three rounds of edits to sending their man- uscript to us, where our scribes do a full content edit. That would be a fourth round of edits. Just know that if you want another set of eyes on your book after you finish the first three rounds, you can do that as well, and in fact, most authors do (even the ones who don’t work with us). WHEN TO STOP EDITING You’ll know you’re close to being done editing when you hate your book. I’m joking, but only a little. I’ve written seven books, and I hated every single book in editing. It usually happens somewhere around the 70-80 percent mark. When I am close enough that I could see the end, but far enough that it still felt like it would be forever to get there, I hate everything and want to quit. Now when I write a book, I know it’s coming, I can prepare for it and recognize it when it comes, and in a way, I actually welcome it. When I start hating my book, I know I’m close to being done, and I just need one more final push. Here’s what’s funny about this: by about the three-month mark after your book is released, you will have totally forgotten about this. I’m not joking at all. It reminds me of my wife and our children. Her first childbirth went well, at least as far as first births go. We had midwives and did a home birth, it took about seven hours, and everything was smooth. But if you’ve had kids, you know smooth does not mean pleasant. 170 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

She was in SERIOUS pain. It was seven hours of agony and suffer- ing. She hated every minute of it. Then, when our son was like, nine months old, we were at dinner with some friends and talking about kids. She said, “I can’t wait to have our next one. The first birth was so pleasant and wonderful.” I went slack-jawed, “What?? Were you not there? You were in scream- ing agony the whole time. You yelled curses at me and at God.” She kind of looked at me funny, “Yeah…I know you’re right. I know that’s all true. But I don’t remember it that way at all.” That is what writing a book is like. You hate it at the end, and love it once it’s out. If you need a frame to help you decide when and if you are done editing, you can use what we call the Edit Stop Quiz. It’s two ques- tions, and you can use it over and over again until you are done. EDIT STOP QUIZ, QUESTION #1: IS THIS THE BEST BOOK YOU CAN WRITE, RIGHT NOW? If the answer is yes, then send to publish. If the answer is no, then go to question #2. EDIT STOP QUIZ, QUESTION #2: WHAT CAN YOU DO RIGHT NOW TO MAKE IT BETTER? If there is an answer, something you can do now, do it. If there is nothing you can do now—if the answer is something like, “Become a better writer”—then send to publish. The point of this is to get you out of your spiral of “Well, if I did a hOW TO EDiT yOUr BOOk · 171

little more research…” and then two years later your book is still stuck. That is bullshit, and procrastination to stop you from finish- ing your book. If you want to become a better writer to eventually write a much better book, you can do that. But the path to that destination is publishing this book now. A FINAL NOTE ON FINISHING YOUR EDITS Most first-time authors fall into the “editing death spiral.” This is when they keep editing the same thing over and over, and cannot stop. We see this all the time. They will do the first three rounds of edits fine, then we finish our edits on the book, give it back to the author, and they spend six months with it. Not because they are making substantive changes. Instead they get lost in details, fretting over small word choices, making tiny edits, and obsessing over obscure details. We almost have to pry the book out of their hands so we can finish it, even though they don’t really have anything left to change. This can be driven by many different forces, such as perfection- ism, fear of publishing, fear of success, or fear of failure. There will always be more to work on, more to change, more to improve. That thinking will kill your book. There are two aphorisms we use to help get authors past this point: “Perfect is the enemy of good, shipped is better than perfect.” —Seth godin “[Books] are never truly finished, only abandoned.” —leonardo da vinCi 172 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Pick your aphorism, they all mean the same thing: stop editing, get your book in print, or it doesn’t do anyone any good. If you have reached this point and are editing too much, then you need to stop. We can write a whole different book about this subject, but we’re going to simply say this: At least one person, and probably many more, want to learn what your book will teach them. You have an obligation to yourself and to your audience to stop editing and put the book out. Give your knowledge to them, even if it’s not perfect. They want and need it. “Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity.” —nietZSChe hOW TO EDiT yOUr BOOk · 173

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5.2 ShOUlD yOU ASk PEOPlE fOr fEEDBACk? “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” —elMore leonard If your car broke down, would you ask a chef to look at it and tell you what’s wrong? Unless it’s the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile, what’s a chef going to tell you? At best, he’ll scratch his head and say, “Yeah, looks like it’s not working.” Thanks, super helpful. At worst, he’ll try to be helpful, and end up sending you down some nonsense rabbit hole. No, if you want your car fixed, you take it to a mechanic because a mechanic has experience at fixing cars. It’s literally what they get paid for. I know this example is silly. Yet, authors will do this exact thing. ShOUlD yOU ASk PEOPlE fOr fEEDBACk? · 175

I could tell you Halloween-style horror stories about authors who had a great manuscript, and then sent it to random friends for feedback. What happens is that the friends either feel like they have to say something, so they just make random comments, or even worse, they think they know how to write because they spend all day writ- ing emails, but they don’t know anything about books, and their nonsense comments send the author into a tailspin. If you want to get feedback, there is a right way to ask, and you should only ask specific people. Those specific people should gen- erally be a person from one of these three groups: 1. People who are experienced writers/editors 2. People who are experts in your specific field 3. People who are in the exact audience you want your book to reach Let’s break down each category: 1. EXPERIENCED WRITERS OR EDITORS This is obvious. Someone who has a lot of experience in writing and editing can almost certainly help you with your manuscript and give useful feedback. Keep in mind that many people vastly overestimate their experience and ability in these areas. Many people think because they write emails all day, it qualifies them as skilled writers or editors, when in fact they are not that at all. This is why at Scribe we have a rigorous testing process before we even begin to work with editors, outliners, and publishing manag- ers—even if they are employed full time as writers or editors, we don’t assume they’re skilled. We want to see their work, and we judge their ability by the quality of their work. 176 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

What happens as a result of these tests? We reject about 98 percent of the people who apply to work with us, all of whom have legiti- mate writing or editing experience. That should tell you the general quality of the “experts” out there. We bring this up only because we’ve seen many authors give their manuscript to a friend who claimed to be a “great” writer, only to see that friend give truly awful notes that left the author confused and hurt, and ended up creating lots of problems with the book. Here’s the hard reality of writing feedback: most people have NO IDEA what they are talking about, especially with regard to books and writing, and getting feedback from those people is harmful. 2. SOMEONE IN YOUR FIELD OR NICHE Asking someone who shares your field of expertise for feedback can be quite helpful. For example, if you are a financial advisor and you give your book to two of your trusted financial advisor friends to read it, they can give you a perspective on the book that could be both helpful and unique. The key to making this fruitful is to ask them to specifically focus on what they know well. When you give them the manuscript, ask them to read it as a financial advisor, checking to make sure you haven’t made any factual errors, and that clients will understand it, and that your tone is appropriate for your profession—things like that. Basically, you are asking them to apply their decades of expertise to your manuscript. That will work well. 3. SOMEONE IN YOUR AUDIENCE If your book is about how to build an app business, and you give it to two friends who are trying to build app businesses, that is perfect. They could tell you what helped them in the book, which parts they ShOUlD yOU ASk PEOPlE fOr fEEDBACk? · 177

wished had more content, and where they got confused or lost. That sort of feedback tends to be valuable. Just be very careful who you select, and give them very specific instructions. If you pick someone in your primary audience, make sure to tell them what you want to know. For example say, “I’d love you to read my manuscript, and tell me where it loses you, or doesn’t make sense, or is hard to follow.” ALL FEEDBACK IS WRONG Be careful with this feedback. The best piece of advice I’ve ever heard about feedback on a book is this: All feedback is wrong somehow. Your job is to figure out what’s right about it, and only pay attention to that. What this means is that most people are giving you feedback based on how they feel, and they almost certainly don’t know how to fix the issue. This quote from author Neil Gaiman sums it up: When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. His point is that the reader may know that your book isn’t working for them in some way, and you should listen to that critique. However, their ideas for solutions are probably bad, because they have no experience solving writing problems. If someone in your audience says something isn’t working for them, listen to their comments, but use your own ideas and knowledge to fix the problem. No one knows your book and your subject matter better than you do. 178 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

THE WORST THINGS TO DO (AND HOW TO FIX THEM) There are a few things you should never do in terms of feedback: DO NOT put some pages out on Facebook/Twitter for feed- back: This is a disaster. You will deeply regret it. In my 15+ years as a writer, I have never seen this work for anyone. There are so many reasons this goes wrong it is hard to list them all. Just think of it this way: If you wanted advice on your clothes, would you stand in the middle of an amusement park and randomly ask people who walked by? Of course not. Well, asking for an opinion of your writing on social media is the same thing. I cannot stress enough that you should not do this. Do pick specific people to ask for help: There is nothing wrong with asking specific people for specific forms of feedback, as dis- cussed above. The keyword there is “specific people.” Experts at writing, or experts in your field or people in your audience. That is the key. DO NOT give your manuscript to someone without asking for specific feedback: Do not throw your manuscript to someone and say, “Hey take a look at this and tell me what you think.” That is a recipe for all kinds of wasted time and effort. DO be specific in your ask. There are definitely situations where asking for feedback is both appropriate and helpful, but always say something like, “Hey, can you tell me if you think my voice in the book comes off as too unprofessional for an accountant?” SHOULD YOU LET FRIENDS AND FAMILY GIVE FEEDBACK ON YOUR MANUSCRIPT? Be very careful with asking friends and family to give you feedback. ShOUlD yOU ASk PEOPlE fOr fEEDBACk? · 179

I’ve seen a lot of manuscripts ruined by friends and family trying to be nice. What happens is they feel like they are supposed to give feedback, so they just mention things that occur to them. While they are well- intentioned, most of their advice is not only wrong, but it’s also counter-productive and toxic—a dynamic that can send authors into spirals. The bottom line? Unless your friends and family fit into the above categories, or you are okay with ignoring them, don’t let them give you feedback. 180 · ThE SCriBE METhOD


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6.1 PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE “All that is clever eschew. Do not do.” —anne herbert Shockingly, there’s little useful guidance out there about book titling. What advice exists is usually of little help: • Trite (“Go with your gut!”) • Superficial (“Browse bookstores for ideas!”) • Or worst of all, actively harmful (“Don’t spend too much time on it.”) They’re all wrong. Just like companies that spend millions on naming new products, and media companies that spend time testing different titles for posts, you should spend substantial time and energy finding the right book title. This is a very important decision, one you need to think about and get right to ensure your book has the best possible chance of success. PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 183

In this comprehensive guide to picking the perfect book title, I will walk you through how to think about book titles, then tell you how to pick yours, and how to test it. WHY DO BOOK TITLES MATTER? Your book title is the most important marketing decision you’ll make. Period. The title is the first thing the reader sees or hears about your book— even before the cover in most cases—and getting it right is the single most important book marketing decision you’ll make (even though most people don’t think about it as marketing). The title forms the basis of the reader’s judgment about your book. Let’s be clear: A good title won’t make your book do well. But a bad title will almost certainly prevent it from doing well. The iconic example of the importance of a book title is the title change that led to an obscure book becoming a #1 best seller. In 1982 Naura Hayden released a book called “Astro-Logical Love.” It bombed. She then took the exact same book, changed a small amount of the content, and reissued it with a different title, “How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time…and Have Her Beg for More!” 184 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

That book became a massive cultural phenomenon and a #1 best seller. Same book, same content, just a different title. The takeaway for you is simple and clear: Spend time figuring out the best possible title for your book, because it will largely determine what people think about your book, and thus, your book’s success. THE 5 ATTRIBUTES OF A GOOD BOOK TITLE A good title should have all of these attributes: 1. Attention Grabbing 2. Memorable and Searchable 3. Informative (gives an idea of what the book is about) 4. Easy and not embarrassing to say 5. Short 1. ATTENTION GRABBING This should be pretty obvious. There are a million things pulling on people’s attention, and you need a title that stands out. A bad title is boring. There are many ways to grab attention; you can be provocative, controversial, exciting, make a promise, etc. The point is your title PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 185

should make people stop and pay attention to it. Here is what #1 best-selling author Tim Ferriss says about titles: The 4-Hour Workweek also bothered some people and was ridiculed by others, which I took as a positive indicator. It’s not accidental that Jay Leno parodied the book on-air—the title lends itself to it, and that was by design. You can’t have strong positive responses without strong negative responses, and beware—above all—the lukewarm reception from all. “Oh, that’s nice. I think it’s pretty good,” is a death sentence. 2. MEMORABLE AND SEARCHABLE This is not the same thing as grabbing attention (even though many people think it is). It’s much easier to get a reaction out of someone and then be forgotten, than it is to get a reaction and be memorable. Remember, a book title is not only the first thing a reader hears about your book, it’s the one piece of information that a reader has that leads them back to the book itself. If your book is recommended to them by a friend, and they can’t remember the title, then they can’t go find it in a bookstore or on Amazon. Best-selling author Scott Berkun says it well: Often [the title] is all a potential buyer ever gets to see, and if they can draw interest, the book crosses its first of many hurdles in the improbable struggle of getting noticed. But titles only help so much. Most people hear about books the same way they hear about new bands. Or new people to meet. A friend or trusted source tells them it was good, and it was called . The title at that point serves as a moniker. It’s the thing you need to remember to get the thing you want to get and little more. This also means you want the book title to be easily searchable. In the world we live in, search is how people find things now. If your title does not lend itself to easy memorization and searchability on Google and Amazon, that is very bad. 186 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

3. INFORMATIVE (GIVES AN IDEA OF WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT) This is the least crucial aspect for fiction books, but very import- ant for nonfiction. The title, including the subtitle, should give the reader some sort of idea of what the book is about. People aren’t going to do your work for you; the easier you make it for them to understand the subject, the more likely you are to draw in the people who would find your book interesting. A good test is to ask yourself this: If you were to tell someone the title of your book at a party, would they have to ask what it’s generally about? If so, that’s probably a bad title. Don’t out-think yourself on your title. A title that is overly clever or somewhat unclear signals that the book is for people who imme- diately understand the word or phrase—which makes people who don’t get it right away feel unintelligent, and thus less likely to buy the book. By using a word or phrase that is either not immediately under- standable by your desired audience or doesn’t convey the point of the book, you are putting a huge obstacle in front of your success. Though your book title should be informative and easily under- stood, it does not need to spell out the whole book idea. Take Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers for example: this title does a great job of cuing the content of the book without describing it outright. 4. EASY AND NOT EMBARRASSING TO SAY Having an easy-to-say title is a concept called cognitive fluency and to make it simple, it means that people are more likely to remember and respond favorably to words and phrases they can immediately understand and pronounce. We don’t want to go too far into the PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 187

psychological literature here, but the point is this: Don’t try to be too sophisticated at the risk of becoming obscure. It will only hurt your book. It’s a basic fact of human psychology—people don’t like to feel stupid or socially awkward. If a book title is hard to pronounce, or more importantly, if it’s a phrase that sounds stupid when said out loud, it makes them far less likely to buy it, and chances are they won’t talk about it to other people. One of the most important things to think about when picking your book title is word of mouth. Think about how people will feel about saying this book title out loud to their friends. Does it make them look smart or stupid? The worst possible title is one that makes someone feel silly saying it out loud. For example, if the book title is something like “Why Racism Is Great,” no one is ever going to tell their friends about it, no matter how good the book is, because they have to then face the scrutiny of why they bought that book in the first place. Social context doesn’t just matter some; it matters a lot. Take this list of bad book titles, and imagine saying any of them out loud to your friends in a serious way—you’d never do that. 5. SHORT Generally speaking, shorter titles are best. A short title is not only more memorable and easier to say, but it also gives more space and flexibility for better cover design. People get lured into crafting titles that are exacting and long- winded in an effort to make the title signal the book idea and audience. In the title, stick to the core idea. If you want to get wordy, then leave that to the subtitle. 188 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

If you can, aim to keep the main title around five words or less. The subtitle can offer context or tell a bit more about what the reader will learn. Cameron Herold’s book Meetings Suck has a pithy title, with a subtitle that helps the reader see why they need the book: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable. Want to see the difference between a short title and a long title? Just look at this mock-up: SPECIFIC STEPS TO FIND THE PERFECT BOOK TITLE STEP 1: GET CLEAR ON YOUR BOOK OBJECTIVES Your book objectives (building authority, raising your visibility, etc.) determine what type of title you pick. If you want to build a brand out of your nonfiction book, your title options are quite different than if you want to publish a memoir with a whimsical feel. Let’s examine all the functions your book title can serve, and the PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 189

places for potential use, before we walk you through the precise process of thinking up title ideas: How A Book Title Can Be Used • To sell the book to readers • Establish the author’s authority in a subject • Be a hook for the author to get media visibility • Branding for a company, author, conference, or course materials • Advertise/market the book • Used in speeches, slides, or other in-person activities • Used in reviews, blog posts, articles, etc. • Something the author has to say in all their press appearances • Become a defining part of an author’s future bio • Decorate the cover • Identify the Amazon/B&N listing • Start a line of books • Use on T-shirts, flyers, or other promotional material The point of this whole list is simple: Know which of these objectives apply to your book, and make sure your title can serve those objectives. For example, if your goal is to build a brand, make sure your book title is your brand. Dave Asprey’s first diet book is called The Bulletproof Diet, because that’s his brand: Bulletproof. The book is about selling everything around the book, not just the book itself. If your goal is authority in your field, make sure the book title sounds authoritative to whom you are trying to speak. Whimsical doesn’t work in serious academic fields, whereas serious doesn’t work in comedic fields. If your goal is to get media attention and raise your visibility, make sure the book title appeals to media and makes them want to cover you. 190 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

STEP 2: BRAINSTORM SEVERAL POTENTIAL TITLES You’ll want to see brainstorming for titles not as a specific thing you do for an hour, but rather a long-term process. It may take you months to finalize a title. But you start by simply brainstorming titles. Literally start a file and write down every book title you can think of for your book. I know that telling someone to brainstorm is like telling someone to “be creative.” So what I’ll do is list every possible way we know of to find a good book title, complete with examples (remember, these techniques are not just for your main title, they will be the basis for your subtitles as well). Feel free to use any of these as inspiration for your brainstorming. Also, do not be afraid to put bad titles on your brainstorm list. Bad titles actually help you—because they will get you to a good title. Here are some best practices: 1. Use clever or noteworthy phrases from the book: This is very common in fiction, and can work well with novels. It also works well with nonfiction books where the concept of the book can be summed up quickly or with one phrase. Examples: • The Black Swan • Lecturing Birds on Flying • I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell 2. Use both short and long phrases: We usually start with a really long title and work our way down to much shorter phrases. The goal is to have the main title be as short as possible—no more than five words—and have the subtitle offer the context and put in important keywords. PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 191

3. Use relevant keywords: For nonfiction especially, search matters. You want to make sure that when someone searches for the subject or topic of your book, it will come up on Google and Amazon. But it’s a balancing act, because you don’t want to sacrifice the authenticity of the work for what looks and feels like a search string query. If you are unsure of this, go look on Amazon and see how often subtitles and titles use additional keywords to attract more search engine traffic. Examples: • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success • Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of 4. Make a promise of a benefit: Some of the best titles promise to help readers achieve a desired goal or get some wanted benefit. They specifically call out an end result that people want: Examples: • How to Win Friends and Influence People • Getting Things Done • Think and Grow Rich 5. Be simple and direct: Some of the very best titles are just basic statements about what the book is. There is nothing wrong with this—it can work well, especially for strictly instructional books. Examples: • Getting Past No 192 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

• Steve Jobs • The Power of Habit 6. Target an audience: As we said, people use titles to judge if the book is for them. Part of helping people understand this can be targeting them in your title. You can target specific audiences by naming them or by describing their characteristics. This works especially well if you have a series of books, and then do versions targeted to specific niches. Examples: • What to Expect When You’re Expecting • Physics for Future Presidents 7. Offer a specific solution to a problem: This is very popular in the self-help and diet spaces. You tell the reader exactly what prob- lem your book solves in the title. This is similar to the promise of a benefit, but not the exact same thing; a benefit is something addi- tive, like being sexy. A solution to a problem takes away something negative, like losing weight. Examples: • Man’s Search for Meaning • 6 Ways to Lose Belly Fat Without Exercise! • Secrets of Closing the Sale 8. Use numbers to add credibility: Specifics, like numbers, add credibility and urgency to your titles. They can provide structure for your information, or they can make hard things seem easier. Specificity enables people to engage the idea in a more concrete way, and gives bounded limits and certainty on time frames as well. Examples: PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 193

• The 48 Laws of Power • The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership 9. Pique the reader’s curiosity (but withhold the answer): Using statements that seem to be impossible, unusual contrasts, or par- adoxes can make readers curious about what is in the book. The idea is to make a claim or statement that seems a little far-fetched or fantastical but promises delivery. This is very popular now with headline writing on sites like UpWorthy and ViralNova. The iconic recent example of this with books is one we already mentioned, The 4-Hour Workweek. Everyone wants to know how to work four hours a week, except it seems impossible, so you pick up the book to see what that guy is talking about. Examples: • Networking Is Not Working • 10% Happier • Who Moved My Cheese? 10. Use metaphors or symbols associated with the themes in your book: Humans think in symbol and metaphor. Using these powerful devices can help you create a title that really resonates. The iconic metaphor-based series is “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” The title signals the warm, nurturing feeling that our culture asso- ciates with chicken soup and connects it to something else—stories that nurture your soul. Examples: • Lean In • The Untethered Soul 194 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

11. Use alliteration: Alliteration is the use of the same letter at the beginning of all or most of the words in your title. This makes things easier for humans to remember. Examples: • The Mighty Miss Malone • A Storm of Swords • The Pop-Up Paradigm 12. Alter a popular phrase: This is common in book titles and tends to work well—taking a famous phrase and altering it in a way that makes sense for your book. This works because it’s close to something people know, but not exactly the same thing. Examples: • The War of Art • Assholes Finish First 13. Use slang: Slang can work really well, especially if it’s used in a way that is nonintuitive but also novel. Examples: • Ain’t Too Proud to Beg • No Mopes Allowed: A Small Town Police Chief Rants and Babbles about Hugs and High Fives, Meth Busts, Internet Celebrity, and Other Adventures 14. Try cliché formats (or reversing them): There are a ton of book-naming tropes that can work well if used correctly: • The Art of [TOPIC] • The Myth of [TOPIC] • Confessions of [TOPIC] PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 195

• How to [TOPIC] • The Joy of [TOPIC] • The End of [TOPIC] Examples: • The Art of Racing in The Rain • The Myth of Male Power • Confessions of An Economic Hitman • How to Train Your Dragon • The Joy of Sex • The End of Science Done poorly, these kinds of titles can seem clichéd and cloying instead of fresh. This technique is best used when it offers a twist— but isn’t so far out that it confuses the reader. 15. Consider coining a phrase or new word: This is very helpful, especially if you want to create a brand or company or extended product line out of your book. The problem with this is that it’s not an easy thing to do. Many authors try to create new words; few succeed, so try this sparingly. The most important element of this technique is that the word is easy to say and understand. Examples: • Babbitt • Denialism • Essentialism 16. Use Amazon/Goodreads/Wikipedia for inspiration: If you’re feeling stuck, you can always go look at how other books are named. 17. Use copywriting manuals for ideas: If you are truly stuck and cannot think of anything, read books about copywriting. They are 196 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

not specifically about book titling, but copywriters have to under- stand sell triggers, and they will give you tons and tons of examples. These are three of the best out there: • POP!: Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline for Anything • The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost your Sales. • Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich: Create Winning Ads, Web Pages, Sales Letters and More STEP 3: CHECK COPYRIGHT, TRADEMARK, KEYWORDS, AND POPULARITY First off, let me be very clear about this: you cannot copyright titles. Technically, you can call your book “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “Lord of The Rings” or even “The Holy Bible.” That being said, copying a popular book makes it VERY hard for your book to stand out, and pretty much guarantees a lot of negative reviews from people who are not getting the book they expected. That being said, you can trademark a title, if it is part of a larger brand. For example, the term “Bulletproof” is trademarked in the health and fitness space by Dave Asprey. You (probably) can’t title a book “The Bulletproof Diet,” because it infringes on a trademark (not the copyright). If this is confusing, and you have a book title you think might be a trademark infringement, then talk to an IP attorney. Also, make sure you check that the title and subtitle have the right keywords you want to address your market, and aligns with any domain and brand issues you have. PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 197

STEP 4: PICK YOUR FAVORITES At this point, you should have a long list of title ideas. Once that’s done, you can move on to the next step: picking your titles. I cannot emphasize how important this next step is: Everyone has opinions on book titles. Most of those opinions are stupid and wrong. Even people who get PAID to come up with book titles (editors, publishers, etc.) are usually bad at it. Test #1: Imagine People Saying the Title Here’s a great test as to whether or not you have a good book title: imagine one of your readers talking about your book at a party to other people. If you can see them confidently saying the book title aloud, and the people listening nodding and immediately either understanding what the book is about based on that (and perhaps a sentence or two of explanation) or asking for further explanation because it sounds interesting—then you’ve got a good title. If you imagine any other reaction than this one, you need to re-think your title, and probably change it. Remember, so much of book marketing boils down to word of mouth, and word of mouth is all about people signaling things to other people. You want your book title to inspire and motivate the right people to talk about it, because it lets them signal the right things to their friends. Test #2: (optional) Test Actual Clicks Here’s one of the keys to testing your titles: test both the main title 198 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

and subtitle, and test them in many different iterations. Usually what you’ll find is most things test about the same, while there will be one thing that clearly tests better as a title, and another that clearly tests best as a subtitle. • This is a great piece about the step-by-step process of using Google Adwords to test a title: project-google-adwords-title-subtitle-testing/ • If you have a large audience already, you can also use • For real customer feedback, I recommend using I would also recommend Google Survey. This is real-market testing of real people, and can be done fairly cheaply. HOW NOT TO TEST YOUR TITLE Most of the things authors do to test their title are very, very bad. For example, posting on social media is NOT TESTING YOUR TITLE. In fact, posting on social media is about the worst possible way to test a title. Why is this? Well, your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter friends are probably not your audience, so asking them about the title won’t help you. And even worse, everyone on your social media has an agenda relative to the author that will often put you off-kilter. Friends and family testing doesn’t work. Generally speaking, they want to make you happy. They don’t want to give you an objective answer. Or they want to make sure you look good, but they don’t know what will actually make you look good. Furthermore, oftentimes colleagues will be critical—because they PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 199

are jealous. It happens a lot, and they will give you bad advice, even if only subconsciously. And some authors will go to their marketing teams for title advice, which can often lead you way off-kilter. You know the saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee? When you start getting opinions from lots of different sources, you get the “camel effect” hardcore. DOES YOUR BOOK NEED A SUBTITLE? If you’re doing a nonfiction book, yes, probably so. The way we like to frame it is that the title is the hook, and the subtitle is the explanation. The subtitle is the promise of the book. Books need a subtitle if it’s necessary to contextualize the subject alluded to in the main title. Typically, the subtitle tells the reader some combination of what the book’s central premise is, who the book is for, and what promise the book delivers on or need it meets. Some examples where subtitles help contextualize the title, and deliver the promise of the implied title: 1. THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK: ESCAPE THE 9-5, LIVE ANYWHERE, AND JOIN THE NEW RICH See how the title hooks you by being interesting, and the subtitle explains the premise? Very well done. 2. DARING GREATLY: HOW THE COURAGE TO BE VULNERABLE TRANSFORMS THE WAY WE LIVE, LOVE, PARENT, AND LEAD It’s a bit long, but the same thing is going on here; the subtitle con- textualizes and frames the title, which is clear, easy to understand, and say. 200 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

3. KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL This originally had a subtitle, Adventures in The Culinary Underbelly, but it was later dropped. No subtitle was needed on this work of nonfiction, because the meaning is clear, especially when paired with a picture of a chef on the front (and because it became very famous, which helps). 4. THE LOOMING TOWER: AL-QAEDA AND THE ROAD TO 9/11 This is an example of a book where the subtitle is very important. That title could mean many things, but the subtitle quickly signals what the book is about and who it’s for. PiCkiNg ThE PErfECT BOOk TiTlE · 201

The Scribe Method by Tucker Max - Page 202

6.2 WriTE yOUr BOOk DEDiCATiON “We are the stories we tell ourselves.” —Joan didion WHAT IS A BOOK DEDICATION? A book dedication is a device that some authors use to bestow a very high honor on a person (or small group of people) they want to praise or otherwise spotlight. It is not fundamentally different than dedicating anything else, like a ship or a monument. This proclamation usually goes on the dedication page, which is in the very front of the book, after the Title page. WHO CAN AN AUTHOR DEDICATE THEIR BOOK TO? Anyone you would like. A dedication section is short and usually focused on one person (or specific group of people). It is usually personal, rather than professional. Here are categories of people that are common focuses of a book dedication: 1. Family members (spouse, children, siblings, parents) WriTE yOUr BOOk DEDiCATiON · 203

2. Close friends 3. People impacted by the book or featured in it 4. The readers of the book 5. Inspirational or supportive figures in one’s life 6. People the author believes should be highlighted in some way DO YOU NEED TO DEDICATE YOUR BOOK? No. Most authors dedicate their books, but it is not required or mandatory. HOW TO DEDICATE YOUR BOOK 1. DECIDE WHO WILL BE THE FOCUS Think about the people to whom you want to dedicate this work. Who was the most important person? The seminal influence? The people you care the most about? Many people write their book dedication to a child or dedicate their book to a friend who has impacted their creative process. There’s no magic formula, and you don’t have to get everyone in there. This should be short and sweet, and there are no wrong answers. You are expressing a personal sentiment, so only you can decide. The worst thing you can do is get stuck on it. Either do it or don’t, and if you do decide to have one, don’t fret over it. Go with your gut. Anyone you leave out can be thanked in the Acknowledgments. 2. REMEMBER: EVERYONE WHO READS THE BOOK WILL SEE THIS As the dedication is at the beginning of a book, many of the read- ers will read it and be influenced by it. Think not just about the person or people named in the book dedication, but also about all of the readers who will pass by this page and be impacted. Make a conscious choice about what you want that impact to be (if any). 204 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

3. MAKE IT SHORT (IT IS NOT ACKNOWLEDGMENTS) In contrast to an Acknowledgments section, the dedication should be short and to the point. You should not mention everyone who contributed to the book’s creation. You can thank everyone you’ve ever met in the Acknowledgments, if you want. 4. REVIEW BOOK DEDICATION EXAMPLES (IF NECESSARY) The easiest way to get some examples of dedication is to pick up any book on your shelf and look. Almost every book has a dedication, so you can find endless examples. Most of them are very basic and simple, something like this: For my wife Megan and children, Ava, Jaxon, and Elle. George R. R. Martin, who wrote the Game of Thrones series, has a unique dedication in A Song of Ice and Fire: For Phyllis, who made me put the dragons in. This concise line holds enormous depth for both the readers and the person mentioned. If you’ve read the books or seen Game of Thrones, you’d know that dragons and the fantasy world they rep- resent were a big part of the appeal. To imagine the book without them would be nearly impossible. Phyllis clearly played a big role in the creation of this piece (it’s also an inside joke for fans). Here’s the dedication that C. S. Lewis wrote to his goddaughter in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: My dear Lucy, I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take WriTE yOUr BOOk DEDiCATiON · 205

it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. LEWIS This book was listed as one of Time magazine’s top 100 novels ever written, and yet he wrote it for his goddaughter. This dedication gives real substance to the book, and the author, before you even dive in. This next example is a short-and-sweet dedication from a book I co-wrote with Dr. Geoffrey Miller: To our 17-year-old former selves, and to Bishop, Atalanta, and all the sons and daughters who deserve the great relationships we want for them. 5. WRITE YOUR BOOK DEDICATION The number one thing to keep in mind is that there is NO specific formula for this. The dedication is one of the most personal sec- tions in the book, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to use it. What’s inside of your book is more important, and getting it out into the world is the MOST important thing. 206 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

6.3 WriTE yOUr BOOk ACkNOWlEDgMENTS “The only two things that can satisfy the soul are a person and a story; and even a story must be about a person.” —g. k. CheSterton WHAT IS THE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS? The Acknowledgments section is where you recognize and thank everyone who helped you with your book. It’s a way to display your appreciation to them in a public and permanent forum. WHO SHOULD YOU THANK IN THE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS? This is entirely up to you. Recognize whoever you feel contributed enough to your book that you feel they deserve it. For example, common groups of people that authors thank include: 1. Family members (spouse, children, parents) 2. Friends 3. Editors/people who worked on the book production 4. Publishers 5. Coworkers/assistants WriTE yOUr BOOk ACkNOWlEDgMENTS · 207

6. Agents/managers 7. Contributors/advisers/sources of information 8. Teachers/mentors/bosses 9. Inspirations DO YOU NEED ONE? No. Most books do have them, but by no means are they required or mandatory. HOW TO WRITE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGMENTS SECTION 1. REMEMBER: PEOPLE WILL READ THIS People will read the Acknowledgments section and it will impact them—especially the people who are in them. This section is about those people you are naming, not about you, so approach this as you should your entire book: make it good for the people you are naming, who will read it. 2. START WITH A LIST OF WHO WILL GO IN (BY FULL NAME) This method has worked well in many situations: write out all the people you want to thank, BEFORE you start writing this section. Doing this allows you to see them all together in a list, and helps ensure that everyone is on the list who should be there. Note: A great way to make sure you are not missing anyone is to group people by category, so that you are more likely to remember them. When you put your family members together, you are less likely to leave any out. 3. BE SPECIFIC FOR THE IMPORTANT PEOPLE For the most important people, the more specific you can be in your thanks, the better. 208 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

For example, this is not specific: I want to thank my wife, Veronica. Thank you. This is specific: I have to start by thanking my awesome wife, Veronica. From reading early drafts to giving me advice on the cover to keeping the munchkins out of my hair so I could edit, she was as important to this book getting done as I was. Thank you so much, dear. Being specific in thanks is all about making them feel special. The more detailed you can be in your thanks, the more you’re show- ing that you recognized and appreciated their help. It is rewarding when someone thanks you for a particular thing you did, as opposed to just thanking you overall. As you go further into your list, you can group people. But again, be specific in your thanks, even to groups. For example, this is not specific: Thanks to everyone on my publishing team. This is specific: Thanks to everyone on the Scribe team who helped me so much. Spe- cial thanks to Ellie, the ever-patient Publishing Manager; Meghan, my amazing Scribe; and Erin, the greatest cover designer I could ever imagine. 4. BE SINCERE IN YOUR THANKS The worst thing you can do in an Acknowledgments section is say things you don’t believe. If you aren’t willing to be sincere, then you are better off not doing one at all. WriTE yOUr BOOk ACkNOWlEDgMENTS · 209

Sincerity means honestly and deeply thanking the people who helped you (mentioning the specific ways they helped, as noted above), and remembering the way that they sacrificed for you. At the same time, don’t feel the need to go overboard. You’re not accepting an Oscar, so don’t go on and on or say things just to make yourself look good. Make it meaningful and sincere. 5. DON’T WORRY ABOUT LENGTH You might see some people recommend the Acknowledgments section be only one page. Ignore that. This is the only section I will tell you that you can go long if you want. You may only write one book in your life, and if that is the case then take all the time and space you need to thank everyone who helped you. At Scribe, we put the Acknowledgments section in the back, so it doesn’t interfere with the average reader’s experience. Readers can skip this section if they are bored, but you can never go back and re-thank the people you left out because of some arbitrary “rule.” EXAMPLES OF ACKNOWLEDGMENTS SECTIONS You can pull almost any book off your shelf and read the Acknowl- edgments section for examples. Here are some examples of different Acknowledgments sections for books we have done. This is from I Got There: Writing a book is harder than I thought and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. None of this would have been possible without my best friend, Bishop. He was the first friend I made when I moved to San Antonio. He stood by me during every struggle and all my successes. That is true friendship. 210 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

I’m eternally grateful to my uncle Bobby, who took in an extra mouth to feed when he didn’t have to. He taught me discipline, tough love, manners, respect, and so much more that has helped me succeed in life. I truly have no idea where I’d be if he hadn’t given me a roof over my head or become the father figure whom I desperately needed at that age. To Mr. Gentry, who took a chance on a twenty-three-year-old kid and let him run his offices in Portland, Oregon. He never saw my age, my race, or my lack of formal education. He just saw a kid hungry to learn, hungry to grow, and hungry to succeed in business. He never stopped me; he only encouraged me. Although this period of my life was filled with many ups and downs, my time in the mortgage industry was worth it. My time in the industry wouldn’t have been made possible without Guy Stidham who taught me the honest mortgage game. A very special thanks to Dustin Wells who brought me on as the lowest- paid employee at Headspring and then allowed me to rise through the ranks to become president of the company. Thank you for introducing me to company culture. Writing a book about the story of your life is a surreal process. I’m forever indebted to Tucker Max, Mark Chait, and Amanda Ibey for their editorial help, keen insight, and ongoing support in bringing my stories to life. It is because of their efforts and encouragement that I have a legacy to pass on to my family where one didn’t exist before. To everyone at the Scribe Tribe who enable me to be the CEO of a company that I’m honored to be a part of, thank you for letting me serve, for being a part of our amazing company, and for showing up every day and helping more authors turn their ideas into stories. To my family. To Aunt Jean: for always being the person I could turn to during those dark and desperate years. She sustained me in ways WriTE yOUr BOOk ACkNOWlEDgMENTS · 211

that I never knew that I needed. To my little brother, Mario, and sisters, Rachel and Kristin: thank you for letting me know that you had nothing but great memories of me. So thankful to have you back in my life. Finally, to all those who have been a part of my getting there: Jennifer Jackson, Kay Oder, Sharon Slonaker, Julie Fisher, Kathy Chesner, and Brother Smith (RIP). To the original Headspring team: Kevin Hurwitz, Jimmy Bogard, Mahendra Mavani, Pedro Reyes, Eric Sollenberger, Glenn Burnside, Justin Pope, Sharon Cechelli, Anne Epstein. JT McCormick names people that made his book possible in rel- ative order, from most to least impactful. Note how he writes it directly “to” the people who made an impact, rather than to the reader “about” those people. He rounds it out with a series of names at the end to make sure people do not feel forgotten, even if he does not have the space to devote a full paragraph to each person. Bill Hicks, in The Leadership Manifesto, starts his acknowledgments off with a blanket acknowledgment of leaders everywhere, before naming a handful of them by name. He then thanks his book pub- lishing team and closes with a paragraph acknowledging his CEO. This is a good example of an acknowledgment from a business executive: The world is a better place thanks to people who want to develop and lead others. What makes it even better are people who share the gift of their time to mentor future leaders. Thank you to everyone who strives to grow and help others grow. It is the business version of The Lion King song “Circle of Life.” To all the individuals I have had the opportunity to lead, be led by, or watch their leadership from afar, I want to say thank you for being the inspiration and foundation for The Leadership Manifesto. Without the experiences and support from my peers and team at 212 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Ultimate Software, this book would not exist. You have given me the opportunity to lead a great group of individuals—to be a leader of great leaders is a blessed place to be. Thank you to Chad, Dan, Dave, Gretchen, JC, Laura, Patrick, Scott, and Susan. Having an idea and turning it into a book is as hard as it sounds. The experience is both internally challenging and rewarding. I especially want to thank the individuals that helped make this happen. Complete thanks to Joanie, Randy Walton, Patrick O’Neill, Barbara Boyd, Carol Raphael, and Dan Bernitt. Scott Scherr, thank you for being a leader I trust, honor, and respect. I will always welcome the chance to represent you. “Au Au Au!” Tiffany Haddish, a well-known comedian, continues her “simple yet emotionally powerful” style from her book The Last Black Unicorn into the acknowledgments. She thanks her close family and then closes with a joke in line with the subject matter of the book, and a blanket acknowledgment to the untold masses who have encouraged her. I want to thank: My Grandma. My Mama. My Aunties. My Daddy for donating the sperm that made me. All my brothers and sisters. My best friends Selena, Shermona, Aiko, Shana, Richea. My old agent, my current agents and managers, and Tucker Max. WriTE yOUr BOOk ACkNOWlEDgMENTS · 213

Department of Children Services and the court system for taking care of me when no one else would. I want to thank EVERYONE who ever said anything positive to me or taught me something. I heard it all, and it meant something. All the dudes I ever slept with, I appreciate the experiences, but I ain’t naming none of you! I want to thank God most of all, because without God I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. 214 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

6.4 WriTE yOUr BOOk fOrEWOrD Before you read this, let me emphasize this point: Most books do not need a foreword. If you are unsure if your book needs a foreword, then it does not. However, if you think it might, this guide is designed to help you think through whether it does, and if so, how to get one written. WHAT IS A BOOK FOREWORD? A foreword is basically an introduction that’s written by someone other than the author. The reasons for it are twofold: 1. CONFER STATUS AND CREDIBILITY ON THE AUTHOR A foreword is often written by someone who is a credible authority or expert. Having this person write a foreword is a great way to show that a first-time author should be taken seriously. For example, when James Altucher released Choose Yourself, he WriTE yOUr BOOk fOrEWOrD · 215

asked Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter at the time, to write the fore- word. Many readers did not know who James Altucher was at the time, but they knew that the CEO of one of the largest tech compa- nies in the world was willing to vouch for him and his book, which was a strong signal of credibility. 2. PROVIDE CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND FOR THE READER For some nonfiction books, a foreword explains why readers need this book, and says things about the book that the author cannot. This context could also say nice things about the author that the author cannot say about themselves. It’s much more powerful when someone else calls you a “thought leader,” but (like blurbs) it has to be the right someone. For example, we did a book with a man who was well known in real estate, but not known outside that space. He was friends with Kevin Harrington, who wrote the foreword. Kevin is well known in many business areas, and not only conferred status on the author, but also said some great things about him that he could not say about himself, or they would have come off as bragging. Note again that great forewords do both—they confer status and provide context. If the foreword won’t accomplish one of these two things, then it shouldn’t be written. As long as it’s doing at least one, then the foreword is doing its job. WHO WRITES THE FOREWORD? If you want a foreword for your book, the first question is “Who do you know that could write one?” If you have a good relationship with someone who makes sense, great. Move down to the “how” section. 216 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

If you do not know someone that makes sense, then you have two options: 1. Reach out to people you don’t know and ask them to write a foreword 2. Do not have a foreword For many reasons, #2 is the best option. While it may be possible to get a foreword from someone you don’t know, it will be very hard. It’s easier to get a blurb than a foreword, and the best people to ask are those who you have a personal con- nection to. The best way to ask someone to write a foreword is to call them on the phone. If you’re not comfortable picking up the phone and dialing their number, then they’re probably the wrong person to ask. If you don’t know them to call them, why would they ever write a foreword for you? A foreword tends to be a “personal vouch,” and that sort of thing is much easier to get from someone with whom you already have a relationship. It’s also a lot of work. Unlike a blurb that is only a few sentences, this person has to be willing to write a substantial piece of work for you. Also, their name in your book reflects on them, either positively or negatively. If you reach out to someone you don’t know, it is hard to ask for both of those things. If you are unsure about asking someone to do a foreword, you are better off asking for a blurb instead. A rule of thumb we like to use with our authors is that if we won’t put the “Foreword by [NAME]” on the cover of the book, then you are better off asking the person for a blurb. WriTE yOUr BOOk fOrEWOrD · 217

HOW DO THEY WRITE THE FOREWORD? Writing a foreword seems pretty obvious: ask someone to write a foreword, and they do it, right? Some people do exactly that. And in a perfect world, they would all do that, but they don’t, for two reasons: 1. People don’t have time to sit down and write. 2. They’re not a good writer, so they get intimidated. For these reasons, we recommend that authors give their foreword writers two options if they do not have the time or desire to sit down and write it the conventional way. LETTER TO READER OPTION This is a really simple framework that helps someone get started. You can send these exact instructions to your foreword author: “Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. Here is all I need: • A very short piece, 500 words or so. • It can be framed as a “letter to the reader” where you tell them why they should read the book. • If you want to say nice things about me, I won’t be upset :)” For this option, make sure that, if you need to make any edits to the foreword (aside from obvious misspellings), you get the approval of the author. RECORDING OPTION You can also “record” their foreword and then have that written (we do this for our authors if they ask). The process works like this: 218 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

1. The author (or someone they hire) interviews the foreword author via phone. 2. The author transcribes the interview (we use 3. The author (or the person they hire) writes the foreword based off that call. 4. The foreword is then sent to the author who makes any changes and then approves it. This is the basic list of questions we use for a foreword interview: 1. Who is the author? Tell me about them. 2. What is remarkable about the author, especially as it relates to the book topic? 3. What is important about the subject matter of the book? 4. What does the reader need to know about the subject matter of the book? 5. Why should the reader care about this book’s subject matter? HOW LONG SHOULD THE FOREWORD BE? Only rarely should a foreword exceed 500 words. If it’s over that, it needs to be exceptionally good. The mention of the foreword author on the cover is enough to confer status and credibility, and any more than 500 words may detract or distract from the book itself. The foreword is like a movie trailer—tell the audience what they need to know in a short amount of time, then get out of the way for the main event. DOES THE FOREWORD AUTHOR NEED TO READ THE BOOK FIRST? Not necessarily. WriTE yOUr BOOk fOrEWOrD · 219

The two reasons for a foreword (confer credibility or provide con- text) don’t necessarily require any commentary on the content. The foreword should really be focused on the author: who are they, what is their work, and what are they aiming to do with this book? They don’t always need to have read the book to understand the background and context of what’s going on in the industry or space that the author is writing about. They can—but it’s not crucial. Now, of course if the foreword author wants to read it, then let them, obviously. But generally speaking, you should know them so well and have such a good relationship with them that they have plenty to say about you without knowing the specific contents of the book. START THIS PROCESS EARLY Understand that most people take forever to write their foreword, so start this process early. If you do not, if you try to do this last minute, it will cause a delay with your book. 220 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

6.5 hOW TO gET iNCrEDiBlE BlUrBS fOr yOUr BOOk “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” —Steve JobS WHAT PURPOSE DO BLURBS SERVE? There are more than 500,000 books published each year in the US alone. How is a potential reader supposed to know that yours is actually good? How are they supposed to know that you and your book are worth their time and money? There are several ways to signal that your book is serious and pro- fessional. The book cover, book title, and book description are three examples. Once you have those locked in, a way to add credibility to your book is through the use of blurbs. A “book blurb” is a quote from someone that says something pos- itive about you or your book. Here are some blurbs from Mona Patel’s book, Reframe: hOW TO gET iNCrEDiBlE BlUrBS fOr yOUr BOOk · 221

“Why not? What if? If those questions give you pause, it might be because you’ve been carrying around the wrong frame. In this personal book, Mona Patel wants to outfit you with a new way of seeing and working.” —Seth godin, Marketing guru and Multiple tiMe New York Times beStSelling author “Part business, part personal development, Reframe is full of practical ways to jumpstart innovation.” —adaM grant, wharton profeSSor and New York Times beStSelling author of Give aNd Take “This book, like its author, is innovative, clear, and able to open path- ways to new ideas.” —nir eyal, author of Hooked: How To Build HaBiT-FormiNG ProducTs Done properly, a good blurb will: 1. Signal that the book is important 2. Provide social proof that the author is important 3. Help readers see the book is relevant to them 4. Most importantly, convince a potential reader to buy the book Blurbs are a great way to “credential” a book (and more importantly in many cases, an author as well) and help it stand out from the field. ARE BLURBS NECESSARY? Absolutely not. Do not get obsessed with them. Again, blurbs are not a necessity. Many famous books have launched and succeeded without them. Blurbs fall into the “nice to have” category, and not the “must have” category. They do impact the book, but don’t move the needle anywhere near 222 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

as much as reviews. Actual reviews on Amazon or barnesandnoble. com are much more powerful in terms of selling copies. It is generally better not to have blurbs than to have bad ones or ones from unknown sources. For example, name your favorite three books. Who blurbed those books? You probably don’t recall. WHERE DO BLURBS GO? Blurbs are multipurpose, and can go several places. For example: 1. Front of book cover: Usually only one can go on the cover, and that would generally be from someone very high status to your audience. 2. Back of book cover: You can usually put up to three of them here, without crowding the back. 3. Inside flap cover: This is for hardcovers usually, and they can go on the inside or back, depending on various decisions. 4. Before the title page: If you have a lot of blurbs, you can put them on their own pages, usually right at the beginning of the book. This is usually called the “Advance Praise” section. 5. On the Amazon/B&N book page: Putting blurbs in the book description or the About the Book section can add a lot of social proof to the book. 6. On your website: Another place to put them, though only one or possibly two tend to work here. 7. In your press materials: This is definitely a place to put them as well, as they will help land you press. WHAT IS A GOOD BLURB? A good blurb generally has these attributes: hOW TO gET iNCrEDiBlE BlUrBS fOr yOUr BOOk · 223

1. COMES FROM A RELEVANT, HIGH STATUS, OR CREDIBLE PERSON This is key. You want your source to be one that sends the right signals to the audience of the book, and conveys the authority you want to achieve with your book. There are a lot of subtleties to this we will explain later in this section. 2. HELPS THE READER UNDERSTAND WHY THE BOOK MATTERS TO THEM It’s not easy to frame or explain your book to a reader, and a blurb can help them understand why they need to buy and read your book. 3. IS NOT PITCHY OR OVER THE TOP The worst thing you can do is get a great person to leave a gushing blurb that sounds paid for or ridiculous. Realistic is better than explosively optimistic. People tend to discount things that seem too good to be true. WHERE CAN BLURBS COME FROM? There are three basic types of blurbs, and we’ll walk through each one in detail. 1. Quotes from Credible, High-Status People 2. Press Mentions 3. Reader and Customer Testimonials QUOTES FROM CREDIBLE OR HIGH-STATUS PEOPLE Most people do not pay much attention to what blurbs actually say, since almost all blurbs are uniformly positive. Instead, people pay attention to who gave the blurb, and judge your book based on the person endorsing it. The more credibility and social status the endorser holds, the more 224 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

powerful the blurb. You are using some of the credibility and status of the person giving the blurb, and reflecting it back on your book. An excellent example is Give and Take. When it was published, Adam Grant was a fairly obscure professor, not well known out- side of academic circles. But his work had been influential on many famous authors, and he asked them to provide blurbs for his book. Look at the list of people who blurbed him: • Susan Cain • Dan Pink • Tony Hsieh • Seth Godin • Dan Ariely • Gretchen Rubin • David Allen • Dan Gilbert • Robert Cialdini Those people are all famous authors (at least to the type of reader to whom Adam wanted to sell). That list forces his audience to not only give it a chance, but made the media take it seriously as well. You’re trying to borrow the credibility and authority of a person, and sometimes that can be conveyed by their position, even if they aren’t famous themselves. Not all people know famous authors, and not all blurbs should come from famous authors. You can also get blurbs from people who have high-status positions. For example, look at the blurbs for Chasing Excellence (a book about fitness and athletic training). Do you know who any of these people are? • Javier Vazquez hOW TO gET iNCrEDiBlE BlUrBS fOr yOUr BOOk · 225

• Chris Hinshaw • Bethany Hart-Gerry Probably not. They’re not widely famous by name. Now, let’s look at how they are listed on the Chasing Excellence Amazon Page: • Javier Vazquez, Major League Baseball All-Star • Chris Hinshaw, Professional Triathlete, winner of Ironman Brazil • Bethany Hart-Gerry, US Olympic Bobsled Team You don’t know the names, but given their titles and accomplish- ments, you now take their comments on a book about fitness and training VERY seriously. PRESS MENTIONS Most of your blurbs will come from people that you ask. However, another good place to find blurbs is in press or media attention you may have gotten from a media source. For example: “Hilariously entertaining and thoroughly reprehensible.” —New York Times The above example was a quote about my first book I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. The article itself was not resoundingly positive, but this was a positive mention in it, so I took it and put it on my book. Having the New York Times even mention my book was sig- nificant social proof to a potential reader. Press from anywhere can make a difference—even from a relatively unknown media source. Any third-party press adds credibility to you and your book regardless of whether the praise was directly for your book or not. 226 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

READER AND CUSTOMER TESTIMONIALS You can also use customer reviews as testimonials. If you’ve written a book before, your old reviews may be a good place to search for an extra blurb or two. Early reviews can be moved up on the Amazon page, to round out the blurbs. The book Predictable Revenue does this. The authors received feed- back from people who read the book and used them as blurbs (and made sure to list their job titles, to gain more social proof): “I couldn’t put it down. It’s saved me so much time, and now revenue is ramping up. After reading the book, we closed major deals immediately with the strategies.” —kurt daradiCS, Ceo, freedoM SpeakS/CitySourCed.CoM “I just finished reading your book. Unbelievable! I now know what’s wrong with our sales process…” —pat Shah, Ceo, SurChSquad “I have read Predictable Revenue and it’s Entrepreneurial Crack!” —daMien StevenS, Ceo, ServoSity You can even solicit testimonials from actual clients (depending on what you do and how it relates to your book). The authors of Predictable Revenue did this as well: “Working with Aaron Ross has been nothing short of amazing! His meth- ods applied to our sales organization helped us produce a profitable and scalable new stream of predictable revenue. We saw at least 40+% new business growth. The best part is, we had a blast while doing it!” —MiChael Stone, vp SaleS and Strategy, wproMote (#1 ranked SearCh Marketing firM on the iNc. 500) This works because the Predictable Revenue audience is entrepre- neurs and CEO’s, and that is who is giving the blurbs. hOW TO gET iNCrEDiBlE BlUrBS fOr yOUr BOOk · 227

WHO SHOULD YOU ASK FOR BLURBS? Blurbs are ideal to request from people in your network who are well known, important, or have important jobs. The key consideration here is to focus on asking people who fit two criteria: 1. They are known to the audience you’re trying to reach, or have jobs or titles that sound credible to that audience. 2. You already know them enough to reach out to them. To decide who to reach out to, start with a big list—the more names, the more likely you are to get a yes. These should be specific people, not a list of famous people you’ve never met. If you do not have some connection to them in your network, do not put them on your list. If you don’t know the person or have a credible connection that is already established, then you aren’t getting a blurb. Ask someone who has a strong connection with both your audience and the material. It’s much better to get a quote from a person that your audience knows well but is anonymous outside that niche, than someone who is very famous but has nothing to do with your book. For example, if you write a book about pop-up retail, and you happen to be friends with a famous politician who has nothing to do with retail or any connection, a blurb from her won’t resonate with your audience. Whereas if you can get the VP of Macy’s to blurb your book—even though no one outside of retail has any idea who she is—that quote will be a powerful signal to the audience for your book (people who care about retail). 228 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

HOW SHOULD YOU ASK SOMEONE FOR A BLURB? The process of asking for blurbs can be a bit uncomfortable for most authors. The best thing you can do when asking for a blurb is to make it as easy as possible for people to give you one. In that vein, I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret: most people who give blurbs don’t actually read the book. In fact, most of them don’t even write the blurb…they just approve it. Here is the email template we recommend using when asking someone for a blurb. Of course, you need to modify this with details relevant to the person you’re asking: [INSERT NAME], Hey [NAME], I’m writing to ask if you’d provide a blurb for my upcom- ing book, [INSERT TITLE]. It would mean a great deal to me if you gave an endorsement. [INSERT SPECIFIC REASON WHY BASED ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP]. I’ve attached a PDF to this email with the manuscript, so you can read it if you’d like. Obviously I’d love it if you read the full book, but I value your time highly, so I am providing 2-3 example blurbs for you. Feel free to approve any of these, or edit them in any way you’d like that reflect your feelings: [INSERT EXAMPLE BLURB #1] [INSERT EXAMPLE BLURB #2] [INSERT EXAMPLE BLURB #3] hOW TO gET iNCrEDiBlE BlUrBS fOr yOUr BOOk · 229

KEY TO BLURBS: BLURB THE PERSON, NOT THE BOOK Most people don’t have the time to read your book and carefully consider a blurb, but they don’t feel comfortable blurbing some- thing they haven’t read. That’s okay. There is a very simple solution: have them blurb you as a person. This is more than acceptable, and a very easy give for most people. For example, I helped Kamal Ravikant do this for his second book, Live Your Truth. He is friends with Tim Ferriss, but Tim was too busy to read the book (at the time, he has since read and loved the book), so I got Tim to give Kamal this blurb: “Kamal is one of those people whose words are as powerful as his presence. When Kamal speaks, I listen.” —tiM ferriSS, author of #1 New York Times beStSeller, THe 4-Hour workweek That quote is now on his Amazon page and the book, and is a pow- erful piece of social proof for Kamal and his book. ANOTHER BLURB TRICK Speaking of Tim, he uses a great trick to get blurbs, and I helped him do this on two books. While the book is still in process, he would print the most relevant chapter to the person he was asking for the blurb, personally high- light relevant sections and passages (with a highlighter and pen) and mail THAT to the person, with the offer of sending the whole book if they want. That’s a smart, strategic, and generous move, and it worked almost every time. 230 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

HOW TO WRITE BLURBS FOR APPROVAL There is not a formula to write blurbs, but there are a few rules: • They cannot be too long, or no one will read them. • They can’t be too pitchy or over the top, or they lose credibility. The most important thing is that the blurb focuses on the benefit for the reader—why should the reader care about the book? For this, the best advice is for you to go find the 5-10 books on Amazon that you think are good comparisons to your book (or in similar niches), read the blurbs for them, and imitate their style. Dif- ferent niches have different blurb styles, and the best thing you can do with a blurb is not violate any norms the readers are expecting. EXAMPLE OF A GREAT, DIRECTED BLURB LIST Remember, the more focused the blurb list is on your audience, the better it will be for you. Here is an excellent example of the appropriate use of blurbs, from the book Common Financial Sense, by Harris Nydick and Greg Makowski: “This guide delivers the most practical and straightforward tutorial I have ever read.” —haZel o’leary, forMer united StateS SeCretary of energy “I wish I had access to this book earlier in my career! I promise to pay it forward by sending a copy of Common Financial Sense to each of my three twenty-something kids.” —Skip SChweiSS, preSident, td aMeritrade truSt CoMpany “Common Financial Sense is an insightful new guide that simplifies and demystifies retirement plan investing. Read this book! It will help you make smart decisions to successfully pursue your financial goals.” —JoShua paCe, preSident and Ceo, e*trade hOW TO gET iNCrEDiBlE BlUrBS fOr yOUr BOOk · 231

“Common Financial Sense is a breath of fresh air and should be required reading for everyone entering or in the workforce.” —dean durling, preSident and Ceo, quiCkChek Corporation Unless you’re in the financial industry, few of these names mean anything to you. But it’s still a great list, because the people have high-status job titles, and they are extremely important to the audience to whom this book is trying to appeal. This list of blurbs signals exactly who this book is for and converts those specific people at a very high rate from browsers into readers. 232 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

6.6 lOCk iN yOUr MANUSCriPT: COPyEDiTiNg “Remember, Grammar Nazis: it’s YOU’RE going to die alone.” —daMien fahey To be perfectly clear: when we say you need “a finished manuscript” to start the publishing process, we don’t just mean a document that’s pretty close to your finished book. We don’t mean a file with only a few typos left. We mean a finished manuscript. It’s crucial that you get as much of that work out of the way as possi- ble before starting the publishing process. Adding a paragraph now, rather than after the interior layout is finished means the difference between a few minutes and a few hours of work. This is NOT hyperbole. Getting your manuscript locked prior to publishing often translates to thousands of dollars of savings. It’s worth taking the time to lock everything in thoroughly. lOCk iN yOUr MANUSCriPT: COPyEDiTiNg · 233

STEP 1: HIRE A PROFESSIONAL COPYEDITOR I can’t be any clearer about it than this: hire at least one professional copyeditor to review your book. Don’t rely on spell-check. Don’t ask your friends. Don’t get your neighbor to look it over. I don’t care how confident you are that there are no mistakes. You’re wrong. They are there, and if you don’t hire professionals to find them, you’ll miss them, and then readers will think you are stupid. There is a lot of data on this, but average people only detect about 60 percent of errors, and even professionals usually only catch about 85 percent (that is why we have two different people review every manuscript we do for authors at Scribe). While your read-out-loud editing will catch a lot of the small, sloppy mistakes and wording issues, there are a whole other set of issues that professional proofreaders are looking for: small grammatical rules that native English speakers often don’t even realize exist. For example: • Do you know the difference between an en dash and an em dash? • Do you end sentences in prepositions? • Do you start too many sentences with conjunctions? These kinds of mistakes are not life-threatening, but they make the difference between a professional book and one that comes across as amateur. And beyond that, if Amazon gets too many reports about typos in your book, they will pull the book down. There are two distinct types of copyediting services: those that allow you to submit the manuscript and they manage their team internally, and marketplaces that allow you to find your own free- 234 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

lancer. The first is simpler, but the second (marketplaces) tend to be more effective. EDITING SERVICES If you choose to go with editing services, you’ll likely be charged a flat fee. You can ballpark that these options will cost about $250-750 depending on various factors. You’ll submit the manuscript, and within a week you’ll get back a finished product. Simple. Here are a few services we’ve tested and recommend: • PostScripting ( • Kibin ( • Scribendi ( MARKETPLACES The other alternative is to use a marketplace. Most of these options will allow you to list a job for free, and the marketplace will take a percentage of the cost. The copyeditors will usually work on a per- hour or per-word basis ($20-30 per hour and 0.75-1 cent per word are normal), but some will be open to charging a flat fee as well. The total cost should be similar to the prices above. Here are a few marketplaces we’ve tested and recommend: • Upwork ( • People Per Hour ( • MediaBistro ( The real benefit of using a marketplace instead of a service is the direct engagement you get with the copyeditor. Not only will you be able to choose someone who seems best suited for your project (and who has been rated well by past clients), but you’ll also be able to convey extra information to them that might be useful in their proofreading work. lOCk iN yOUr MANUSCriPT: COPyEDiTiNg · 235

STEP 2: WORKING WITH YOUR COPYEDITOR Once you’ve found the right copyeditor, you’ll need to assign them the job and work with them. We spoke to our team of professionals to gather feedback on what they need out of a job assignment. Here is their advice: 1. Define the Role: As one of our editors said, “Copyediting is rarely just copyediting, no matter what the client calls it.” There’s a lot of responsibility that can be put on a copyeditor, and it’s important to be clear about what that responsibility is. Traditionally, a copyeditor’s task is to find any mistakes, incon- sistencies, and errors, like typos, and grammatical and spelling mistakes. However, it’s not uncommon (because they’re the last line of defense against a faulty manuscript being released) for them to take on more responsibility. 2. Explain the Audience: Not every book is written in the Queen’s English. For a copyeditor to accurately distinguish between what to edit and what’s an intentional style choice, it’s important for them to understand the audience for the book and the message it’s trying to convey. This can be as high level as whether or not profanity is okay, or as specific as the country of origin, to make sure that the sayings and spellings are correct. 3. Point Out What Needs Work: You can often (although not always) anticipate issues. For example, we recently worked on a book that was written in such a way that it jumped back and forth between past and present tense. We fixed this problem in the manuscript, but it was worth explaining the situation to the proofreader so that she, too, could be on the lookout for similar mistakes. You can apply this strategy, too. If you know you have a tendency 236 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

to make sloppy typos or misuse a certain type of punctuation, for example, tell your proofreader. The more clues you can give them as to what they might be looking for, the better your book will be. STEP 3: FINISH THE PROCESS Once the copyeditor is done, they should send you back a Word document with all their changes made in Track Changes. This is the industry standard, and it’s worth confirming with them before hiring them that they’ll be tracking the changes for you. When you receive the document, you should expect to find a lot of small tracked changes. Most of these will be obvious mistakes that you’re happy to accept, but some may be phrasing recommenda- tions, or questions about pieces that are unclear. Some may be spelling or punctuation corrections that are techni- cally accurate, but not commonly used—remember, their job is to follow rules, not make editorial choices. Sometimes you may want to purposely break rules to stay current or create your unique tone and voice. Be sure to go through all of these changes and make your own decisions about what should be implemented and what shouldn’t. STEP 4: READY TO PUBLISH? At this point, you should have a manuscript that you’re confident enough to lock in and publish. We should note that you’ll probably never be 100 percent confident that your manuscript is ready to go. No writer is. But at some point—generally after all of these steps—there is noth- ing else left for you to do other than lock it in and put it out. Don’t waste weeks or months trying to get it from 99.9 percent perfect to lOCk iN yOUr MANUSCriPT: COPyEDiTiNg · 237

100 percent. It’s impossible. Recognize when diminishing marginal returns have set in, and move on. Once your manuscript is locked, it’s time to get started with the publishing process. 238 · ThE SCriBE METhOD


The Scribe Method by Tucker Max - Page 240

7.1 hOW TO WriTE A BOOk DESCriPTiON ThAT SEllS “Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and enter- tainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.” —MarShall MCluhan After the title and the cover, the most important marketing material for your book is the description. The book description goes multiple places, most prominently on the back cover and right below the price (on Amazon). It’s crucial that this short description be right. In this chapter, we will walk you through how to write and create your book description, and include some examples of authors who did it well, and those who didn’t. WHY YOUR BOOK DESCRIPTION MATTERS The book description is the pitch to the reader about why they should buy your book. It is sales copy to get them to see that the book is for them (or not) and then make the purchase. hOW TO WriTE A BOOk DESCriPTiON ThAT SEllS · 241

There are so many examples of how book descriptions lead to huge changes in sales. One of my favorite stories is for JT McCormick’s book, I Got There. Despite having a nice cover and receiving good reviews, it wasn’t selling as many copies as it should have. So we dove into the book description, figured out the flaws, and completely revamped it. Sales doubled—within an hour. This isn’t uncommon. In many cases, the description is the factor that solidifies in the reader’s mind whether the book is for them or not. If you get it right, the purchase is almost automatic. If you get it wrong, very little else can really save you (except a recommen- dation from the right source). Remember, people are looking for a reason to not buy your book, so having a good book description is key to keeping them on the purchasing track. HOW TO WRITE YOUR BOOK DESCRIPTION At Scribe, our copywriters use the Hook, Pain, Pleasure, Legitimacy, Open Loop format, which is very similar to how we write introductions. 1. HOOK The first sentence should be something that will grab your desired reader and make them take notice. If that isn’t right—or worse, if it’s wrong—you can lose the reader immediately, and then it doesn’t matter what the rest of the description says. People are always looking for a reason to move on to the next thing. Don’t give it to them. Make the first sentence something that forces them to read the rest of the description. Every good book descrip- tion you see is interesting from the first sentence. 242 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Generally speaking, this means focusing on the boldest claim in the book, or the most sensational fact, or the most compelling idea. 2. PAIN Once you have their attention, then clearly describe the current pain they are in. If you can accurately and realistically describe the pain of the reader, you will have them fully engaged in the descrip- tion and seriously entertaining the idea of buying the book. You don’t need to be gratuitous here, all you need to do is be accu- rate: what pain is in their life? What unsolved problems do they have? Or, perhaps what unachieved aspirations or grand goals do they have? Clearly and directly articulate these, in plain and simple language. 3. PLEASURE Then tell them what the book does to help them solve for this pain. Done right, this creates an emotional connection by describing how the book will make the potential reader feel after reading it. Or even better, what the reader will get out of reading the book—how will their life be different because they read this book? Will it make them happy or rich? Will it help them lose weight or have more friends? What do they get once they read this book? Be clear about the benefits, don’t insinuate them. You are selling a result to the reader, not a process (even though your book is the process). Explain exactly what the book is about, in clear, obvious terms. 4. LEGITIMACY This is simply about letting the reader know why they should listen to you, why you are the authority and the expert that they need to hOW TO WriTE A BOOk DESCriPTiON ThAT SEllS · 243

hear from. This can be very short and should not be a focus of the book description. You want just enough social proof to make them keep reading. This can also go in the hook. If there is an impressive fact to men- tion (e.g., New York Times bestseller), that should be bolded in the first sentence. Or if there is one salient and amazing thing about you or the book, that can go in the book description, something like, “From the author of [INSERT WELL-KNOWN BESTSELL- ING BOOK.]” Or perhaps “From the world’s most highly decorated Marine sniper, this is the definitive book on shooting.” 5. OPEN LOOP You state the problem or question your book addresses, you show that you solve or answer it, but you also leave a small key piece out. This piques the interest of the reader and leaves them wanting more. You do want to be very explicit about what they will learn, but you don’t have to go deep into the “how.” This is to create an “open loop” so to speak; you are keeping back the secret sauce that is actually in the book. This being said, do not make the reader struggle to understand what your point is, or how to get the reader there. This is especially true for prescriptive books (how-to, self-help, motivational, etc.). People like to understand the basics of the “how” (as well as the “what”), especially if it’s something new or novel. This is a balance that our examples will show you how to hit. EXAMPLES OF GOOD BOOK DESCRIPTIONS CAMERON HEROLD’S VIVID VISION Many corporations have slick, flashy mission statements that ulti- mately do little to motivate employees and less to impress customers, investors, and partners. 244 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

But there is a way to share your excitement for the future of your com- pany in a clear, compelling, and powerful way, and entrepreneur and business growth expert Cameron Herold can show you how. Vivid Vision is a revolutionary tool that will help owners, CEOs, and senior managers create inspirational, detailed, and actionable three- year mission statements for their companies. In this easy-to-follow guide, Herold walks organization leaders through the simple steps to creating their own Vivid Vision, from brainstorming to sharing the ideas to using the document to drive progress in the years to come. By focusing on mapping out how you see your company looking and feeling in every category of business, without getting bogged down by data and numbers, Vivid Vision creates a holistic road map to success that will get all of your teammates passionate about the big picture. Your company is your dream, one that you want to share with your staff, clients, and stakeholders. Vivid Vision is the tool you need to make that dream a reality. What Makes It Good? Three things make this good: 1. Engaging hook: Everyone knows that mission statements are BS, but how many people say this out loud? By doing so, it takes a stand and engages the potential reader immediately. 2. Important keywords: We tend to advocate staying away from buzzwords in your book description, but in some cases—espe- cially business books—the right use of them can work. This is an example of where they work. Words and phrases like “easy to follow” and “simple steps” and “drive progress” actually work. 3. Clear pain and benefit: This book is not appealing to every- one—but to the perfect reader, it’s very appealing because it clearly articulates a real problem (“slick, flashy mission state- ments that ultimately do little”) and then tells you the result it hOW TO WriTE A BOOk DESCriPTiON ThAT SEllS · 245

delivers (“detailed, actionable three-year mission statements for their companies”) and basically how it gets you there (“mapping out how you see your company looking and feeling in every category of business”). TIM FERRISS’S 4-HOUR WORKWEEK: Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan—there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero man- agement, or just living more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint. This step-by-step guide to luxury lifestyle design teaches: • How Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week • How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want • How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs • How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist • How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent “mini-retirements” WHAT MAKES IT GOOD? There are three things that make this good. 1. It has a great hook: Tim immediately tells you why this book matters to YOU—because you can stop waiting for retirement. 246 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

Who doesn’t want to retire now? OK, I’m interested, tell me more… 2. It has bulleted, specific info about pain and pleasure: A vague promise is no good if it doesn’t deliver. Tim then makes specific promises about the information in the book, both about things that have happened, and things it will teach you. 3. It makes you want to read more: After the contrast of the big, broad goal and the specific information, at the very least, any reader is going to keep going into the reviews and other infor- mation. You’re hooked—you want to know HOW he teaches this. TYLER COWEN’S AVERAGE IS OVER: Widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most influential economists, Tyler Cowen returns with his groundbreaking follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Great Stagnation. The widening gap between rich and poor means dealing with one big, uncomfortable truth: If you’re not at the top, you’re at the bottom. The global labor market is changing radically thanks to growth at the high end—and the low. About three-quarters of the jobs created in the United States since the Great Recession pay only a bit more than minimum wage. Still, the United States has more millionaires and billionaires than any country ever, and we continue to mint them. In this eye-opening book, renowned economist and bestselling author Tyler Cowen explains that phenomenon: High earners are taking ever more advantage of machine intelligence in data analysis and achieving ever-better results. Meanwhile, low earners who haven’t committed to learning, to making the most of new technologies, have poor prospects. Nearly every business sector relies less and less on manual labor, and this fact is forever changing the world of work and wages. A steady, secure life somewhere in the middle—average—is over. With The Great Stagnation, Cowen explained why median wages hOW TO WriTE A BOOk DESCriPTiON ThAT SEllS · 247

stagnated over the last four decades; in Average Is Over he reveals the essential nature of the new economy, identifies the best path forward for workers and entrepreneurs, and provides readers with actionable advice to make the most of the new economic landscape. It is a chal- lenging and sober must-read, but ultimately exciting, good news. In debates about our nation’s economic future, it will be impossible to ignore. WHAT MAKES IT GOOD? This book description does almost everything right. It quickly estab- lishes the author credentials, it immediately states the huge social question it addresses, and it does so in a way that creates an emo- tional reaction from the reader—questions of equality are highly emotionally charged. It then spends two short paragraphs laying out the context of the debate over economic equality, and then tells you exactly what the book will tell you, without giving its thesis away. This description almost forces you to read this book. EXAMPLES OF BAD BOOK DESCRIPTIONS BEN HOROWITZ’S, THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essen- tial advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular blog. While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz ana- lyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight 248 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, culti- vating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in. Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing about Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences. WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT? This description is bad because—based just on this description—the book seems somewhat bland and boring. If I don’t know anything about Horowitz before I read that description, what in there makes me want to know more? Nor does it really tell me anything about the substance of what he says in the book, and it substantially undersells both Horowitz’s prominence and the resonance and importance of the book’s message. And who cares that he likes rap? What does that matter to me, the reader? Compare this with the description for Tyler Cowen’s book above; it explains who Cowen is and why I should care, it tells me what he says, applies the book to my life, and shows me exactly why I need to care about what he wrote. The irony is that having read both books, I can tell you that Horowitz’s is just as good, if not better than Cowen’s. But you would never know this from comparing the descriptions. DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF’S COERCION: WHY WE LISTEN TO WHAT “THEY” SAY Noted media pundit and author of Playing the Future Douglas Rush- koff gives a devastating critique of the influence techniques behind our culture of rampant consumerism. With a skilled analysis of how experts in the fields of marketing, advertising, retail atmospherics, and hand-selling attempt to take away our ability to make rational hOW TO WriTE A BOOk DESCriPTiON ThAT SEllS · 249

decisions, Rushkoff delivers a bracing account of media ecology today, consumerism in America, and why we buy what we buy, helping us recognize when we’re being treated like consumers instead of human beings. WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT? Short descriptions are great, but this is too short to even tell me what the book says. This is an example of overselling, without doing it right. Look at the descriptions, “devastating” “skilled analysis” and “bracing account”—this description sounds like he’s doing what he says he’s warning us about: selling without substance. In no place does this description connect the reader to the issues in the book in a way that is engaging or compelling. MORE BOOK DESCRIPTION BEST PRACTICES 1. MINDSET SHIFT: IT’S AN AD, NOT A SUMMARY Don’t think of the book description as a synopsis. It is not meant to summarize your book. So many authors want to put everything about their book in this section. Resist that urge. It is an advertisement. Think of it like a trailer for your book. It is designed to make people want to read your book. You want them to take action and buy it. 2. USE COMPELLING KEYWORDS It’s not enough to be accurate; you need to use high-traffic keywords that increase the likelihood your book will get picked up in search. For example, if Sports Illustrated does a book, you’d want to not only say Sports Illustrated magazine but also mention the names of the A-list athletes in the book. Even better, use words that evoke an emotional response on the part of the reader. Don’t use “jerk” when “asshole” will work. 250 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

3. KEEP IT SHORT On average, Amazon Bestsellers have descriptions that are about 200 words long. Most descriptions are broken up into two para- graphs, but some are kept at one, and some run to three. 4. SIMPLE WRITING Keep the writing simple. Use short, clear sentences. You don’t want anyone to struggle to comprehend what you’re trying to convey, because you’ve strung too many ideas together in one long run-on sentence. 5. WRITE AS THE PUBLISHER, NOT THE AUTHOR This will probably be obvious to you, but the book description should always be in a third-person objective voice, and never your author voice. It is always written as someone else describing your book. 6. NO INSECURITY Don’t compare your book to other books. I see this all the time, and all it does is make the book (and the author) immediately look infe- rior. Plus, a reader may hate the book you are comparing yourself to and you’ll lose them. The only place a comparison makes sense is if you are quoting a very reputable source that makes the comparison itself. 7. DON’T INSIST ON DOING IT YOURSELF I can’t tell you how many amazing authors I’ve had come to me utterly befuddled because they couldn’t write their own book description. This is normal. The reality is that the author is often the worst person to write their hOW TO WriTE A BOOk DESCriPTiON ThAT SEllS · 251

own book description. They’re too close to the material and too emotionally invested. If this is the case, we recommend either asking a friend to help, or going to a professional editor or even better—a professional copywriter—for assistance. 252 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

7.2 hOW TO WriTE yOUr AUThOr BiO (AND Why iT MATTErS) Unless you’re one of the household name authors (Steven King, JK Rowling, Malcolm Gladwell), most people buying your book will not know who you are. So how will they learn about you? And why is this even important? That’s what this chapter will explain: how to properly write your author bio, and why it’s so important. WHY YOUR AUTHOR BIO IS SO IMPORTANT Even though very few authors think about it, and even fewer writ- ing or publishing guides talk about it, the “Author Bio” section will impact sales and reputation, and often determines what media you get. It impacts sales directly. “Author reputation” is consistently cited as one of the main factors that influence book buying. If you can establish yourself as an authority on your book topic, readers will hOW TO WriTE yOUr AUThOr BiO (AND Why iT MATTErS) · 253

be much more inclined to buy your book, read it, and regard you the way you want them to. People are considering spending their income and time on your book, and they are looking for a reason to do it or not do it, and a great bio helps them do it (while a bad bio will often stop them). Furthermore, if you want your book to help create a business for you, or establish your credibility or authority in a subject, often the author bio is more important than what’s actually in the book—the sad but true reality is that more people will read your author bio than your actual book. It takes a long time to read a book, but it’s very easy to make a snap judgment based on a short paragraph, and most people do that. This is doubly true for media. Most people in media work very hard under tight deadlines, and don’t have time to read long books or even long, meandering pitch emails. But a good author bio cuts right to the point by saying: this is a person who is important, and I need to pay attention to them. HOW TO WRITE YOUR AUTHOR BIO Writing about yourself is typically a task that most writers shy away from, but writing an effective author bio doesn’t have to be painful. A few simple steps can get you to an effective bio that will not only impress interested readers and media, but also help sell your book: 1. DEMONSTRATE YOUR AUTHORITY AND CREDENTIALS ON YOUR BOOK SUBJECT (BUT DON’T OVERSTATE THEM) Whatever your book is about, it’s important to establish your creden- tials in that area. For example, if you’re writing a diet book, mention professional degrees or training or accomplishments, or other things that clearly signal your authority and credibility in that space. If you struggle with what to say about yourself, remember that the 254 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

idea is to make it clear why you’re credible and professional (as opposed to an unknown, untrusted source), i.e., why the reader should listen to you. For some types of books and authors, this is harder to do. If there’s no clear way to signal direct authority or credentials—for exam- ple, a novel or a book about your life stories—then don’t make up things or try to “invent” authority. Focus on the other parts of the author bio. 2. INCLUDE ACHIEVEMENTS THAT BUILD CREDIBILITY OR ARE INTERESTING TO THE READER (WITHOUT GOING OVERBOARD) In your author bio you’ll want to include some things you’ve accom- plished in your life, especially if you don’t have direct credentials and authority in the book subject matter. This will help your audi- ence understand why they should spend their time and money reading what you’ve got to say. If you have something about you or your life that is unusual, even if it’s not totally relevant, you should still consider putting it in your bio. For example, if you were a Rhodes Scholar, or you started a major national organization, or won a national championship in ping- pong—whatever. The point is to show the reader that you have done things that matter, even if they don’t matter to the book. If you are lacking on credentials or exciting things, you can always put in your passions and interests—anything that you enjoy doing, writing about, or consider a hobby, especially if they are relevant to the book topic. That being said, do NOT ramble on and on about things that reader doesn’t care about. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes, and ask yourself, “Does this fact really matter to anyone but me?” hOW TO WriTE yOUr AUThOr BiO (AND Why iT MATTErS) · 255

3. MENTION ANY BOOKS YOU’VE WRITTEN, AND YOUR WEBSITE (BUT DON’T OVERSELL THEM) If you’ve written other books, especially on that subject, make sure to mention them. If they’re bestsellers or won awards, even better. If you’ve won multiple awards and you are finding that listing them all is becoming tedious, aim for brevity instead. Simply writing “John Smith is an award-winning author whose works include…” is more than enough to show your readers you know what you’re doing. If you have a website, a longer bio page, or anything else that helps promote your brand, then you should make sure you include it at the bottom of your bio (assuming this meets your goals). Again, you don’t want to brag here, so just be humble and simply put some- thing like: Find out more about John at It’s simple and has a clear call to action. 4. DROP SOME RELEVANT NAMES, IF THEY’RE APPROPRIATE (WITHOUT BEING CRASS) Yes, name dropping can put off readers if it’s done wrong. But there is a right way to do it. For example, if you are relatively unknown, you can say something like, “The woman that Seth Godin called “the most important writer of our time” reveals to you the secrets of…” This way you are trading on Seth Godin’s reputation, and establishing your cre- dentials at the same time (assuming he said this). Also, if you’ve worked for or with very well-known people, name- dropping is not seen as bad; it’s seen as an effective signal to the reader of your importance and ability. What matters is that there is a reason that you are using someone else’s name that makes sense, and is not just a gratuitous name drop. 256 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

5. KEEP IT SHORT AND INTERESTING (WITHOUT LEAVING ANYTHING IMPORTANT OUT) While your readers are interested in finding out more about you, they don’t want to get bored, or listen to arrogant braggadocio about how great you are. If your bio is too long, or too full of over- stated accomplishments and awards, it will turn your readers off and actually make you look less credible. Typically, if you keep your bio under 200 words, you’re going to be OK. Anything longer than that means you’ve gone on too long about your accomplishments, your personal life, or both. Also, it will make your back cover look cluttered and amateurish. Cut it down to the most important things. TEMPLATE FOR AUTHOR BIO INFO This is a template you can use to write your author bio. I’m not saying it’s the very best way to write an author bio; in fact, many of the best ones above do NOT fit this template. But many people asked for an easy-to-follow template, and this is the template we use with our authors. 1. First sentence: “[Author] is [statement to establish credibility on this subject and/or authorship of previous books.]” 2. Second sentence(s): Statement(s) further establishing credi- bility or qualifications of author to write the book. 3. Third sentence (optional): Historical “before that” informa- tion that is at least tangentially relevant to the book, or very compelling in another way. 4. Fourth sentence: Endorsement of author’s credibility by others, awards, or some other social proof, if available. 5. Fifth sentence: Tidbit of personal information. 6. Sixth sentence: Link to website or other resource (if relevant). Here is how that looks in practice: hOW TO WriTE yOUr AUThOr BiO (AND Why iT MATTErS) · 257

Will Leach is the founder of TriggerPoint Design, a leading behav- ior research and design consultancy specializing in using behavior economics and decision design to drive consumer decision-making. He is a behavior design instructor at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University and has more than twenty years of behavior insights experience working with Fortune 50 companies to solve their most important behavior challenges. Will is the only two- time winner of the EXPLOR Award for his work in behavior design and is known as America’s foremost authority in applying behavior science to marketing. Will lives in Dallas with his wife and family. IF YOU CAN’T WRITE ABOUT YOURSELF, HAVE FRIENDS HELP YOU People, especially writers, have a hard time writing about them- selves. Often, the Author Bio is the most difficult part of the marketing process for an author to write effectively. If you are unsure about whether your author bio seems either incomplete or too arrogant, run it by a few friends for feedback. For example, when I was doing my first bio, I made all the mistakes I outlined above. I eventually had to have my friend Nils Parker write my bio for me. It’s always easier for your friends to praise you and see the amazing things you do. EXAMPLES OF DIFFERENT AUTHOR BIOS I’m going to show you a lot of different bios, to give you an idea of how many different authors did them: HIGH STATUS AND SHORT: LYNN VINCENT This bio is the perfect “less is more” for an author with a lot of cre- dentials. When you have done what Lynn has done, you can just say it quickly and succinctly. Lynn Vincent is the New York Times bestselling writer of Heaven Is 258 · ThE SCriBE METhOD

for Real and Same Kind of Different As Me. The author or coauthor of ten books, Lynn has sold 12 million copies since 2006. She worked