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How Much Do I Share?

Your Book Writing Coach
Your Book Writing Coach

One of my private coaching clients called today as we’re wrapping up her book proposal and making our short list of agents. She had a number of next step questions on her list, but one stuck out for me.

A colleague had asked to interview her for a chapter in the colleague’s book. The colleague had written a successful first book and things looked good for book two. Seemed like an opportunity.

But something just didn’t feel right to her.

Fortunately, she listened to her intuition. I took her through an exercise to meet and communicate with her muse. We asked her muse what she wanted her to know in this situation.

Her muse was a fairy. Whats your muse look like?
Her muse was a fairy. What's your muse look like?

Her muse was clear:

  • Set boundaries: Don’t do a live interview.
  • Control your communication: Ask for questions you can answer in writing.
  • Keep the “hot” stuff: Don’t share the information you plan to put in your own book.  Share tangential information.

Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to withhold information, but books are about timing and freshness–so, please don’t give it all away.

Another client is working on a groundbreaking book  on relationships. We knew that once he put his ideas out there, it will be easy for others to apply his perspective, techniques and tools–a good thing. But this made it very important to  wait until the book is published before sharing the gems.

He’s done radio interviews and several interviews for articles on top dating websites and magazines. Early on we brainstormed about what information was tangential to the book and okay to share with the media and what information he needed to keep under wraps until his book comes out.

Another reason to keep information about your book to yourself is to protect yourself emotionally. Only share with people you know will be supportive.

And a third reason for reticence is that you can dissipate your creative energy if you talk about it instead of writing it.

Copyright your training materials
Copyright your training materials for your protection

Are there times to be more open? Absolutely. You may be teaching workshops on the material and need to use the juiciest bits for your teaching. Do put a copyright sign on your training materials for one level of protection.

I don’t mean to make you paranoid. Most people will not steal your ideas, but once the ideas are out there, it’s just harder to have your stuff be seen as fresh. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, an ounce of protection keeps your writing pure!

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Cathy says

    I loved this item in your newsletter so much I went searching through your archives for more tips. But I got a bit confused. In this article you say “once the ideas are out there, it’s just harder to have your stuff be seen as fresh” but in you comments for your blog about the novelist serializing her book in her blog, you imply that blogging the book is a point of strength. Which is it? And if it’s both, how do you walk that line?

    • lisatener says

      Hi Cathy,

      Often publishing advice can sound contradictory. Blogging a book can work as a strategy, as in Made to Stick, a book that was first blogged and was very successful. However, it can also backfire if someone takes your ideas (particularly for a nonfiction book) and runs with them while your blog audience is still small. It may be hard to be seen as the originator of the ideas even if they are fresh to begin with. One client of mine is sharing some of his tangential information but keeping the “hottest” and freshest information in his book, which comprises the core of the book, private until the book comes out.

      It partially depends on your goals and the subject of your book. For a book in a very competitive category (dating, weight loss), where someone could take your ideas and spread them through online articles, a book, print articles, etc. you might be best off keeping the core of it private. If you start to get a large following on your blog, that may be a time to be more public with some of the info. For a novel, I have less experience, but either strategy can work (or backfire). Intuition may come in handy here. And research how other novels have done that were serialized in blogs.

  2. Michele says

    How can I ensure that no one has already taken my book title? Other than searching online in Amazon etc. – Is there somewhere else I need to check like a main registry where I can copyright the title of the book.

  3. lisatener says

    Great question, Michele,
    One cannot copyright a title. Hence you may see some books with the same title. The negative of having the same title as another book is any confusion it may cause to someone looking to buy your book. You can search Bowker’s Books in Print to see if a title is “taken.” Often libraries have access to this resource.

  4. Hollis Chapman says

    Hi Lisa, thank you very much for all your helpful tips, and thank you in advance for coming on our show on Sept. 3. Hope you are enjoying R.I. I love the place–I am a RAM

    Hollis

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