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Help, Someone Already Wrote My Book

Your Book Writing Coach Lisa Tener
Your Book Writing Coach Lisa Tener

My Bring Your Book to Life students are preparing for the start of book writing class next month. They’re researching their markets, creating the vision for the their books, and starting to outline. Some are calling me for their book concept consultation.

I love the consultations as we brainstorm to take good ideas and make them even better. Today was no exception–fun and creative. The possibilities for this book seemed endless.

Eight hours after today’s session, I received a desperate e-mail with the above subject line, “Help, someone already wrote my book.” The book covered exactly the material my student planned to cover…and the author–someone with similar credentials–seemed to have a very similar take on the subject.

My advice, “Don’t panic. Your book will have its own voice and flavor.
Sounds like he does a good job, but maybe by adding a brief story to the start of each chapter, your book will have something his doesn’t. And the forms will be an excellent addition.”

In fact, when publishers and agents consider a book, they want to know there are other books like yours out there. They’re very concerned when there aren’t! If there are no books like yours, there may be no market.

Students finding their unique voice in the "in-person" version of my book writing class
Students finding their unique voice in the "in-person" version of my book writing class

At the same time, if your book is exactly like another book, why write it? You want to add something unique to what’s out there. How do you do that?

1.  Go back to your readers. What do they want and need? Are there ways to give that to them? Perhaps your book will have stories that address readers’ concerns, or you’ll add another two chapters that the other person missed, or you have a new point of view on certain topics. Perhaps your book is more experiential and offers exercises or journal prompts.

After all these centuries, books still sell.
After all these centuries, books still sell.

2. Trust in your unique writer’s voice. Your tone should capture your personality in a way that meets a need of your audience (humor, emotion, a degree of irreverence, or playfulness, for instance). It may take time to find your voice, but trust that you will.

We can go back to Ecclesiastes to find, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Yet, there are fresh ways of saying things or books would have stopped selling a more than a century ago.

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.

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