Tuesday, April 24, 2012

5 reasons to never postpone writing YOUR book.

I have brainwaves about blog topics. This blog is about the business of running a small, entrepreneurial legal practice, and ideas occur to me all the time.

But I had a major brainwave when I read about the latest offering from the American Bar Association's publishing arm. There it was: MY book.

The book I've wanted to write. The book I am DESTINED to write. It's about the end of lawyers, and what lawyers have to do to meet the new challenges predicted by Sir Richard Susskind in his wonderful book of the same title. I memorized that book while I was speaking in England, Ireland and Southeast Asia last year. The topic? Trends and solutions to the current globalization of the practice.

There it was. Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, by Mitchell Kawalski. Interested parties can find it here.

Staring at me in the face like a mocking, but very polite (Kawaaski is Canadian) older brother. That is an AWFUL feeling.  I've been telling myself all weekend that it's not so bad, the Canadian system isn't anything like the American legal system, and I still have time to tell people what I think of the antiquated ABA policies on electronic media, law firm  ownership and investment, and countless other topics addressed in Susskind's book.

But I haven't written it YET. I spent the weekend painting and complaining about the rain and the wind.

I wrote this topic on my whiteboard, so I could think about it. My husband wrote the small print editorial:


Bless his little heart. Don't put off writing a book. Here are the top five reasons you should start AND FINISH a book:


An additional bonus for lawyers - it makes you published. And we all know how much other lawyers are impress by lawyers who are published.

You can be an author even before your book is published. I have friends all over the world who are getting speaking gigs and client leads based on a cover design and some nice postcards. They introduce themselves as authors and create workshops around a cover design and some nice postcards.

Being an author instantly makes you an authority on the topic you've addressed. All of a sudden people want - NEED - to talk to you, which generates publicity.  You can promote yourself through your book. And, people think you're cool.


We are designed to respond to authority. It's how we survived. Robert Cialdini, who has spent his life studying the power of influence on behavior did this experiment. He had a student give directions to tell people when to cross a busy intersection. The student was dressed like most students. He looked Cheap and grubby. No one paid attention to him, and crossed whenever they liked.

Then the kid put a suit on. EVERYONE listened to his instructions, because he looked authoritative.

Your book is your suit.


There are lots of systems out there that teach you how to throw a book together. Just get it down, whether you use the normal outline system, or someone else's tried and true method. Just get it down and fix it later. 

Besides, no one reads it. how many books have you been given and actually read? I rest my case. And if people do read it and respond, awesome. fix the problems in the second edition.


This whole myth of writing in a garret, sending the manuscript to Knopff and hoping for the best is piffle. Publish it yourself. People really don't care. Honestly. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen found a publisher and paid for their first printings of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Find a small to midlevel publisher, get some sponsors to help pay for the thing, and publish it. 

Better yet, while you're looking for a publisher and figuring out a way to pay for it, throw it up on Kindle, or offer a downloadable version on your website.


In our lovely unique culture known as America, we have one cardinal rule:


(c) Harlequin Romance
I HAVE read this one.
I threw away a boxful of Harlequin Romances last year while finalizing my mother's estate. They are sort of fun to read, but they are crap. (Sorry HR fans. Wait. No I'm not.) But that didn't stop me from feeling terribly guilty for tossing "Love's Tender Heart" or whatever into the recycle dumpster. I felt like I was taking part in Nuremberg rally in the '40's when I tossed that box. 

People throw aways business cards, but they don't throw away a book. While your contact information languishes in Outlook, your book will be staring down at your prospective client for years to come.

One my mentors, Gerry Robert, got a recurring speaking gig from the president of a huge company 15 years after Gerry presented his book to the man. He found it 15 years later, as he was moving into the corner office. He called Gerry, paid him  a big fee, and brought him back for years.

NO ONE THROWS AWAY A BOOK. Especially if you give it to them. And, you can write something inside that will permanently fix you in your prospective client's mind.

SO write it already:

Pick your objective for the book, identify your target population, figure out what makes them tick, outline your topic and go for it. One more thing: do not spend more than 5 minutes at a time writing your book. Be disciplined. If you spend more than five minutes, your brain starts to think that it will take too long to write the thing and you will talk yourself out of finishing it, like I have. 

5 minutes. That's all it takes - neither you nor I have any more excuses.

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