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Trust: 7 Golden Rules for Expert Authors

‘For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest, that holds human associations together.’ - H L Mencken

Even in the age of GoodReads and Wattpad, when reading is suddenly social again (though arguably not as social as when we all sat round the fire together and listened to the clan story-teller), there's something very intimate about reading a book. Essentially it's a one-on-one connection across time and space between the mind of the author and that of the reader.

And if you're an expert writing a book to build your business, that's very good news. It means you have the opportunity to build a relationship with your readers, your potential clients, so that they like and trust you even before they've met you.

Trust is one of the most powerful of business assets, but it's also one of the most fragile, and once broken it is not easily repaired. Here are my golden rules for expert authors wanting to showcase their expertise in a business-building book.

1. Write with authenticity

Let your personality come through and speak in your own voice, don't try to use high-falutin' words to impress. A good tip if you find it hard to begin is to start by speaking your book out loud, using an app such as VoiceRecorderPro. You can transcribe and tidy up later.

2. Tell the truth

Don’t be tempted to exaggerate or bend the facts. Obvious, of course: if you get caught in a lie - and you will - you've just destroyed your reputation. But choose the truth you tell: not everything is helpful or edifying. There's no place for self-indulgent navel-gazing in a book designed to help potential clients, so save the unburdening for the therapist and focus on what's useful to your reader. And perhaps most importantly, be sure that you deliver on any promise you make in your book.

3. Be generous with your expertise

Make your content of real value to your readers, don't hold back through fear of 'giving away your secrets'. We all know more than we can possibly write; your readers will extrapolate the value of your expertise based on the evidence in front of them, so if you hold back you effectively undersell yourself. And frankly if you don't claim that expertise, someone else will.

4. Involve your champions

Engage existing customers and peers in the writing process – and acknowledge their contributions. Give credit where credit is due wherever you can: to collaborators, to customers, even to competitors. Highlight content or products or information of interest to your customers no matter where it’s found and they will be more likely to trust you when you point them to yourself too.

5. Admit your mistakes

As long as you learned from them, and share those learnings, your mistakes will endear you to your readers and demonstrate that you have earned your stripes. (But see point 2 above. What happens in Vegas...)

6. Make your readers laugh (but only if you really can)

We can’t help but warm to people who make us laugh. However if you can’t, don’t try – there’s nothing more excruciating than someone trying to be funny who doesn’t have the knack. (See point 1 above.)

7. Get the basics right

Ensure the grammar, style and spelling are flawless, that all your facts are correct and that your page layout and cover are up to the mark (this will almost certainly require the services of a professional copy-editor and designer respectively, if you're not working with a publishing partner). I can’t trust your advice on my finances if you’ve muddled up your gross and net profits, and I simply won’t trust another word you say if you’ve used ‘should of’ instead of ‘should have’.

Good content builds trust, and a good book is perhaps the most powerful expression of this. Don't fluff it up.

This entry was posted on 28 January 2015 at 15:35 and is filed under publishing | content strategy | writing | books. You can leave a response here.

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