This is what I call The Killing Question, the one that will completely derail your book, mute your voice, and end your message – all before you even start to write.
And guess what?!
I’m not even being melodramatic!
(Okay, maybe I am I little bit.)
I have had thousands of phone calls with authors over the years. We talk about their book and how they want their message to change the world. And, almost without fail, there comes the moment in the conversation that I just hate. It goes like this:
Author: Have you read XYZ book by so-and-so author? I want my book to be Just Like That One.
Me: No, I haven’t read it. (Heart sinking.)
My heart used to sink in my chest because MOST of the time I’d never even HEARD of the book, let alone read it. I was worried that the author would judge me and my literary choices.
But then I realized something more important:
When the author wanted their book to be Just Like That One –
it meant that they were willing to do ANYTHING to emulate their hero.
In love with a memoir but writing a process book? They’ll write a memoir about a story they don’t really want to tell.
Delighted by a sparse book with just 50 pages? They’ll pare down their message to the point that it doesn’t make sense, just to hit that magic page count.
Enamored by a process book? They’ll try to bring meaning, or worse and acronym, out of their life story so the reader can have a five-step system to follow.
Here’s how the Killing Question derails the book:
As an author, you’re suddenly trying to shoehorn YOUR story and YOUR message into someone else’s format or formula.
I once worked with an author as a ghostwriter how decided that all her chapters had to be exactly four pages long. The problem? One of her important concepts was actually much quicker to explain. I had to pull out all my old college tricks to pad the word count.
Two OTHER of her concepts were important but hard to explain. It was impossible to cut it down to just four pages. It didn’t make any sense at all.
We both left the project frustrated. Her readers never got to read the book because it is, to this day, unfinished.
Here’s how the Killing Question mutes your voice:
When you’re in love with a book, you often find yourself copying that author’s writing style – rhythm, word choice, sentence length.
At best, your writing voice and your speaking voice won’t match. What is far more likely is that you won’t be able to write in that other author’s voice AT ALL because it’s too far from how you think, feel, and write.
One of my VIP Mentorship clients sent in her weekly writing for me to review. And I was… puzzled. It didn’t sound like her AT ALL and was strangely staccato. It was nothing but sentence fragments and paragraphs that were crazy-short. It was especially strange because she had been working with me for MONTHS – and suddenly she’d developed all these weird habits. It didn’t even SOUND like her (and I asked her if a ghost had written it.)
Turns out, she’d been reading a book from an author with an extreme minimalistic style. Absolutely no wasted words – and no descriptive language at all.
My client was in love with that book – and it had muted her own voice.
Here’s how the Killing Question ends your message:
When you’re in love with THAT BOOK and THAT AUTHOR, you write as if that author were telling your story. What would she think about this? How would he explain that?
And if that author disagrees with you on something? You’ll change your thoughts to match theirs; and end your message.
One of my clients wanted to write a process book about how to manifest. She had a different way of approaching it – but she felt like the first book she had to write was all about HOW she’d come to this way of manifesting, the science, the research, the hard facts. Because an author she admired was all about the proof. And she was completely unable to write HER book because she had to live up to HIS standards.
Once I gave her permission to write the book on her heart, the one she was called to write, she wrote THREE books on manifesting – and shared her message with the world. (No additional research or proof of expertise required.)
You see, it’s not really about having your book be Just Like That One.
What you really love about that book isn’t the book. It’s not the trim size, fonts, layout, or cover. And it’s not the voice of the author – how she writes, her sentence structure, her pacing, or her voice.
What you really want is to make your reader feel the way that author made YOU feel.
That it’s possible.
Warm and fuzzy.
So go ahead, love your favorite authors or books. Enjoy reading them over and over. But know when you want to write YOUR book it’s not about imitating or emulating that other author’s style or format.
It’s about reaching into your heart and putting your message on the page so your reader feels…
That it’s possible.
Warm and fuzzy.
Our first day together is all about how to discover your message so that you can help your reader. Day two is about making your reader FEEL – through the use of impactful stories. (Not through drama!) Day three puts it all together with a custom writing plan – so you can finally write your book.
This is a virtual event so you don’t have to travel. Tickets are affordable at $97. And when you register before August 31, I’ll even send you a swag box of goodies to make it FEEL like we’re together in person.
- The hidden days in EVERY year are almost here! What’s your plan? - December 5, 2023
- Do Authors Need to “Get Out There”? – aka Are You Afraid of Being Seen? - November 28, 2023
- 56 Best Gifts for Authors – 2023 - November 21, 2023