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Are You Enough of An Expert to Write a Book?

write a book, become an expert

On April 25,  I was quoted in the Women’s Advantage Calendar  as saying, “To be seen as an expert, write a book. To write a book, become an expert.”

Are you an expert? Or are you becoming an expert?

Sometimes people stop themselves from writing their book because they question their own expertise.  This theme came up for several people in my book writing classes this week.

author, expert anne burnett
Anne Burnett‘s self-help book for parents of autistic children had a strong memoir element. This both established her expertise and focused on the area where she truly was an expert–her own experiences!

Sure, there may be reasons to wait to write your book, but maybe there are other ways to establish your expertise:

  • If you’re serving clients, or even friends, with the model or wisdom you want to share, you possess expertise and even results! Lean on the stories and results people have obtained with your help to frame your expertise and remind yourself that you do have something worth sharing.
  • If you don’t have years of experience or training, interview people who do and include those interviews as sidebars—or even chapters–in your book
  • If you have an amazing story, you can write your memoir–you’re an expert on your life.
  • See if your past experiences can be framed to be relevant to your current subject.
  • Ask experts to contribute to your book.

    bestselling book, tama kieves
    bestselling book this time I dance
  • One participant in class said, “I’m writing the book that I need myself to step into my power.” That’s a valid path–and the starting place of many authors. In fact, after my presentation at the International Coach Federation of New England last week, I stayed to hear bestselling author Tama Kieves speak. And guess what she shared? That when she wrote This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love, she wrote the book she needed to work through her own barriers, step into her passion and develop the livelihood that stirred her soul. If this is you, you’re in good company!
  • Research the subject and find a fresh way to present it–maybe you can use an interesting metaphor. Just be sure to cite any research, articles or authors you reference.
  • Ask an expert to read or edit your work to be sure you’re on track. Of course, you will probably need to pay them (and be sure to acknowledge them in your book) but it will be well worth the investment.
  • Ask an expert to co-author your book.

author expert lisa tener's first book

When Peaco Todd and I began writing The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Anger, we realized we needed an expert on board. My only expertise in anger was personal! We were creative about researching and identifying experts who seemed to have a similar orientation to ours. We lucked out when Jane Middelton-Moz got excited about our book idea.

No question her expertise made the book marketable, practical and much more valuable as a tool for readers. But we had to start somewhere. We didn’t wait until we had an expert on board. We started our book proposal and then had a solid foundation to show her and interest her. I’m not sure she would have been as interested in our book if we had not given her a solid proposal and sample chapters to see we had done our work.

Unlike me when I wrote my first book, most of the people in class actually are experts in their field, but sometimes we tell ourselves we’re not good enough. You don’t have to wait until you’re the top expert in the field to write your book. Write from what you know, research the rest and quote the other experts. Pretty soon, you’ll publish your book and people will be asking to interview you!

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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