68. 3 Types of Books You Shouldn’t Write

Anyone who wants to write a great book, should absolutely go for it.

With the knowledge that you’re creating value for your readers, nothing should stop you from pursuing your writing goals.

In this episode, you’ll discover the 3 types of books that make readers question your expertise, credibility, and integrity and how to do avoid writing them. 

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.

Mentioned in This Episode

Jump-Start: A free guide to help you jump-start your nonfiction book.

Episode Transcript

Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis.

I hope your week and your writing are going well.

When I first started my business—such as it was—I subscribed to so many different email lists.

I wanted someone to just tell me what to do so I could implement it and be successful.

Suffice to say, that approach did nothing for my business.

But I did find some brilliant people to follow, and I still follow them.

Honestly, I probably subscribe to too many newsletters.

But there are only a few that I always read.

One of those is from Chris Brogan from Owner Media.

Chris (in my head we’re on a first-name basis) sends an email every Sunday.

Now, back in the day, these were less business focused, even though he’s a marketing expert.

If I’m perfectly honest, I miss those Sunday letters.

They felt like they were written just for me.

They made me think.

And they made me feel like I knew, or at least was getting to know, Chris on a personal level.

Even though his Sunday emails are less philosophical, Chris still makes me think.

In a recent email, he wrote about a conversation he had with a friend around the idea that most of the content published on the internet every day is basically junk.

I happen to agree with that.

So if you’re a coach, speaker, or business owner, you probably do some amount of content marketing. 

You share content—on social media, via email, in webinars, on podcasts, and through other platforms—as a means to get visibility for your business and promote your products and services.

Writing your book may be another way for you to introduce people to your expertise or your story, which is great. No issues there. That’s wonderful.

But just like some of the content marketing that we see is basically empty calories for our brains, so are a lot of the books being published—more specifically being self-published—these days.

Listen. I believe anyone who wants to write a book can absolutely create something of value.

And your book doesn’t have to be deep or heavy to provide value.

You can decide to inspire, educate, enlighten, or simply entertain with your book, and as long as you achieve that goal, your book can add value to the world.

I follow personalities like actor Leslie Jordan on Instagram because sometimes I just need a laugh.

I follow thought leaders like my coaching client Brandi Harvey because I like to be inspired.

I follow several life coaches, like my life coach Jody Moore and sales coach Stacey Boehman, because I’m constantly learning from them.

These coaches and thought leaders provide value. Yes, they absolutely give us a little gravy with the meat.

They post pictures of life events, or vacation with their families, or their kids’ achievements.

And every post doesn’t have to have a lesson with it. But if I look at the totality of their content, it does provide value.

Your book should do the same thing.

In most cases, except perhaps technical manuals or very focused how-to books, you want to add a little entertainment. Your stories can do that for you.

But whatever value you promise to provide, you need to make sure it’s in your book. Otherwise, you’re just contributing to the noise. You’re just adding to the ever-growing inventory of bad books we have to wade through to find the diamonds.

Here are 3 kinds of books you don’t want to write so you can avoid contributing to the empty-calorie content that’s already out there.

#1. Don’t write a big pamphlet and call it a book.

Listen. I often encourage my clients to write short books. Attention spans have grown shorter, and if all you need is 100 pages to say what you need to say, your readers will likely appreciate that.

But too often I see “books” that are 50 pages long, have 16-point font and 2-inch margins, with huge line spaces between paragraphs.

These are not books, friend. They’re just not.

These are pamphlets masquerading as books.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some lovely gift books and inspirational books that are quite short. In those cases, though, the author has taken the time to make sure every word creates value. There is no fat to cut.

Can you call yourself an author after you write a big pamphlet? I guess so. You can call yourself an astronaut if you want to.

But if I buy your book online or at an event, and what I receive is less than a book, I will question your expertise and so will your other readers.

If you don’t have enough content for a book, then maybe this isn’t the right book idea for you.

More likely, though, is that you just need to dig deeper, go wider, and give your readers more.

#2. Don’t write a book that’s really just a sales pitch.

I tell this story all the time because it’s really important.

A few years ago, I attended a client’s live event, and because I trust her and her judgment, I gave her speakers the benefit of the doubt in a way I might not at other events.

One of her speakers gave away free pdf copies of her book to anyone who opted in to her list.

I had enjoyed her talk and gotten value from it, and I wanted to support her so I went to the table where she had her books for sale, and I bought a paperback version of her book. Not a big investment, maybe $20, but I figured if the book fulfilled its promise, I might join one of her programs.

Her book did NOT fulfill its promise. Instead, it was 200 pages of her telling me why I needed to do XYZ and not a word about how I could do it.

The subtitle of the book promised to teach me how-to. But the content didn’t give me any steps to take. Instead, it kept directing me to join her program.

If you write a book that doesn’t fulfill its promise, readers will question your expertise.

#3. Don’t write a book that just rehashes other people’s ideas.

I’m a firm believer that, at least when it comes to ideas, there’s nothing new under the sun.

You’re not going to be the first person to write a memoir about a tragic childhood.

Your leadership principles will probably not be totally unique.

Your take on marriage, or entrepreneurship, or personal finance, or homeschooling, or weight loss, or whatever topic you choose to write about, will likely have elements of ideas that other people have shared in their own books or other content.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

But too often authors fall in love with an expert’s ideas and decide to write a book about those ideas.

Please don’t do that.

Tim Ferris famously said that if you read 3 books on a subject, you’re an expert.

I would agree that if you read 3 books on a subject you absolutely know more than the average person about that subject, but you’re not yet an expert, friend.

Now, you don’t have to be the world’s most knowledgeable expert to write a book on a topic.

In fact, you may write about that topic for beginners who’d be happy to get the basics in a simplified way. It doesn’t necessarily take a master to do that.

Or you may write about your journey as you apply that material. Many people have written successful books that do just that.

But you can’t just regurgitate other people’s ideas.

Bring something new to the topic. Go deeper. Apply the information in new ways. Find the places where your opinion diverges from those of other experts.

Write something that’s unique to you and it will inherently provide some value.

Our world is filled with so much noise and empty content.

We have all the knowledge of the world at our fingertips, but often we have to wade through unoriginal, uninspiring garbage content to get to the wisdom, the enlightenment, the true entertainment, or the inspiration we’re looking for.

Bad books do us all a disservice, especially when they’re self-published. Don’t contribute to that nonsense.

Don’t write a book that’s just a big pamphlet.

Don’t write a book that’s just a 200-page sales pitch.

And don’t write a book that just rehashes other people’s ideas.

You can do better.

That’s all for this episode my friends.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on IG @candiceldavis.

Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m Your Author Coach, Candice L Davis. And I’ll see you next time.

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