(Warning, this is a post about intimacy, so if inviting your reader into your bedroom scares you, start running now!)
I was being interviewed by one of our writers yesterday for a piece on The Agency Post and we were comparing a book to the dating process. Turns out that thought leadership and dating have a ridiculous amount in common.
Your book has a very specific job to do in the “dating” cycle as I will lay out below. This one is a fun one, so hang in here with me.
Doesn’t it always begin with Twitter? (I kid!) Social Media is a great starting point for our analysis because it’s like flirting in the dating cycle. In less than 140 characters, or through a few pins on Pinterest, or a post on LinkedIn, the job of Social Media is to catch eyes with that special someone across the room. You know so little about this person, but something they shared catches your attention and lures you in to investigate more. Social Media is the dressed up version of you out on the town, looking good, feeling smart, and looking for love.
While a Twitter entry takes about 2.5 seconds to read, your profile might take 30 seconds to a minute. The goal of your profile (or bio) is to let someone in on your story. Just a taste. What intersections brought you here? Where do you come from? Where are you headed? In the dating cycle, if Twitter is your pretty face that catches someone’s attention, your profile is that first quick conversation that tells you what their voice sounds like, what they smell like, what kind of energy they give off when you stand side by side. And the goal is to create intrigue so they want to dive further into the essence of you.
It’s time for that coffee date! You’ve flirted, you’ve chatted, but now it’s time to up the ante. Your blog is typically a 3 to 5 minute experience with you that lets someone into your spirit and shares with them what you care about. This is an opportunity to share a single page from your personal diary. It's your first chance at letting your walls down so they can see your humanity.
While your diary entrée (blog) is the version of you in bed with a cup of coffee, your byline for another outlet (Forbes, Huffington Post, or ScaryMommy.com) is you dolled up and standing at the podium of an event. A byline typically shares the more intellectual and polished version of you, while ideally still capturing your voice and the beauty of your spirit. It’s an opportunity for the reader you’re courting to stand back and watch you in action… and to feel impressed (and turned on!).
Up til now, we’ve been in the courting phase with your readers. You’ve been engaging them in a dance, and each step of the way, what you’re putting out has intended to do two things:
- Attract those who would be a great fit for your work.
- Repel everyone else who would otherwise waste your time.
If all these pieces have done their job well, you’re ready for your official first date!!
This is so awesomely important, so please listen closely. The job of Social Media, Your Profile, Your Blog, and Your Byline are to deepen your connection with readers so they want that first date. The stakes are high as are their hopes for what the night will bring. They have set aside 4 hours for your time together and while it was important for each of the previous steps to play their role, here is where you absolutely MUST deliver. You’ve got to continue your pattern of exceeding expectations.
And this is the place that most books utterly fail.
Because they do all the talking… ugh!
Thought leaders have a nasty habit of talking at their reader. And we all know what that kind of a date feels like, don’t we? LIKE IT CAN’T END TOO SOON! The difference between a crappy date and a crappy book is that the reader is not going to feel bad about closing the book and walking away from you if they don’t feel connected.
So how do you succeed at writing a book that keeps your reader wanting to continue from drinks to dinner to drinks again and then maybe to an invite up to your flat?!?
Intimacy between an author and a reader is created not when you talk at them, but when you invite them into your life. Invite them into your pain, into your joy, into the deep recesses you have to offer. Because you are full of peaks and valleys and both ugliness and beauty. You’re a human being! You cannot afford to take someone on a date and not show them your humanity. A surface first date ends in a handshake and a “this was fun.” A book like that will kill your brand. It will be the greatest turnoff you’ve ever created.
And I absolutely say that with the intention of scaring you. Because I don’t want you to make that mistake. You’re going to invest so much time, energy, and intention into your book, and you want it to sing. You want it to capture all the beauty of you--not just what you’ve learned, but who you are. You want people to read it and feel that they have spent intimate time with you. Because those who do and love you to the core are going to become your future clients, employees, partners, vendors, and investors. And those who see your essence and are simply not turned on, will fade away.
So stop thinking that you’re writing a book full of what you know, and allow yourself to write the book that shares who you are. It’s a far more terrifying proposition. But I’ll end by asking you this… which version would you want to date?
With love in writing,
PS. If you want help with your book or publishing, never hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to provide whatever guidance I can to support you on this important journey. You can find me at Corey@roundtablecompanies.com.