Wednesday, March 05, 2008

True Value

I woke up feeling manifesto-ish. Since I started calling myself a writing coach, I've heard about a lot of people who will:

1. Strategize your book launch so that you rise to the top of a bestseller list.
2. Write your book for you, so you don't have to.
3. Do both together.

I truly believe that these actions, especially when done together, will eventually cause the value of being a "Bestseller" to plummet, and raise the resistance of readers to buying books.

In other words, if you use marketing tactics to push low quality goods, not only do the tactics become ineffective, but the perceived value of all associated goods also falls.

In short, I think this is evil.

Now, it's not necessarily evil to market something excellent. Nor is it necessarily evil to hire a ghostwriter to create a book for you. But, if someone creates a poor quality book, then creates a massive marketing campaign to make it a bestseller, then books, bestsellers, and readers all suffer. And that is evil.

For me, evil is taking actions that reduce the size of the pie for everyone. A book is a significant commitment of time for most readers. So, having been sold a bad book, the reader's time is wasted, and she becomes less willing to buy the next one. The marketing strategies that sold her that book begin to stink in her mind, tainting anything else associated with them. And when she sees that that book has become a bestseller, she discounts the value of the next bestseller.

So, I've been a bit appalled when people hear what I do and say, oh, you're like so-and-so -- who does one of the actions above. I'm apparently not getting my point across.

The fault is mine, of course. I need to let people know clearly how what I do is different.

For a start, here's a small manifesto:

The Value of Writing Authentically

1. I believe that each person is unique, and the true expression of that uniqueness is the best gift they can give to the world.

2. I believe that some people have a calling to write a book and share their experience, knowledge, wisdom, voice, and ability to entertain with the world. Yes, that includes fiction.

3. I believe that such aspiring authors gain immensely from the process of writing the book themselves. New knowledge emerges in the process. They discover themselves and learn how to speak of their topic. They gain the well-earned self-respect and prestige of being an author.

Oh, it's terribly old-fashioned of me. But I believe that doing the work yourself has value.

And creating true value makes the pie larger for everyone instead of smaller.

That is why I offer writing coaching and editing instead of ghostwriting or bestseller creation. I make the process of writing easier and more fun -- and you still do it yourself -- and I work with you to make the completed manuscripts excellent and authentically yours.

If you want the journey and the learning as well as the final product, talk to me. If you only want the final product, and you don't care if it is truly an expression of you, and you are willing to accept the credit for a low value book, as long as it sells well -- please talk to someone else.