Are you trying to be perfect?
Instead, you need to work on being imperfect.
I know, I know, this seems like weird advice. But hear me out.
If you want to create just one, massive nonfiction book, you might get away with being perfect.
However, if you want to write a series of books (like I do) what you need is a loyal readership. You want to gather followers who want to read your next book, and your next book, and then your… (you get the picture).
Okay, so here is the clincher:
If you want to sell a lot of books, you need to be imperfect.
Let me explain. –
The Goody Two Shoes and the Rebel
Cast your mind back to your years at school. I bet there were some goody two shoes in your form, right? They always did their homework on time, were the teacher’s pet, worked very hard, and were clean, wholesome people who simpered and preened when they were praised.
I was never in that mold. My classmates would hold their breath while I spun yet another yarn why I couldn’t possibly have completed my homework: My cat destroyed my book; my auntie broke her toe, the cupboard fell on my head…
Luckily, I had a no-fail way of distracting a teacher, if necessary. I learned to fall over with my chair—without injuring myself. You can imagine the clatter…!
But what about the goody two shoes? Where they beloved?
I don’t think so. The lack of love can be a great disappointment for ‘perfect’ people. Many of them go through life, wondering: “I’m so perfect; why don’t they love me?”
What’s the connection between lovability and selling books?
If you want to sell a series of books, your readers need to love you (even just a little). And they will only love you if they see your imperfections. Because imperfections make you lovable.
Of course, you also need respect. After all, you want to be a thought-leader. And people will only listen to what you say if you have some credibility. Whether you have academic credit or street credit—no matter. All you need is to be passionate about a topic and show how that passion has shaped your life.
But credibility alone won’t cut it.
You Need to Cultivate Imperfection
Let me ask you: do you know exactly what your weaknesses are?
I must admit, I don’t. It’s difficult to see oneself as others see us. But now and then I catch a glimpse.
Just a few days ago it dawned on me what an annoying student I am.
For example, as a CrossFit newbie, I’m still learning Olympic weightlifting. A few days ago at the CrossFit gym, when we started lifting weights, the trainer, Altus Lategan gave me clear instructions on what to do.
5 minutes later…
I call the trainer: “Hey, Altus, do you think I should put on just a little more weights on the bar?”
“No, Mary, as I explained to you, I want you to practice just with the bar so that you get the form right.”
“Yes, yes – of course!” I nod enthusiastically.
10 minutes later…
“You know,” I say, bouncing the bar up and down a bit. “This feels just a little light for me. Shall I add just a couple of tiny weights?”
“NO, Mary. I want you to do EXACTLY what I told you to do.”
“Yes, of course! Absolutely. No question!” I beam at him all eager beaver.
From then on, I catch him watching me out of the corner of his eye to make sure I don’t surreptitiously add some weights.
An annoying student!
Luckily, the others in the class aren’t perturbed by my antics because, at 70, I’m more than thirty years older than most of them and I have some leeway.
Yes, I can catch glimpses of my imperfection, but I need to know exactly what my failing are.
Because of the bio.
Yes. The Bio You Need to Write
When you write a book or a blog, you need to write about yourself. Ever tried it? If so, you’ll know that this is a cringe-making exercise.
In the next few days, I’ve got to start writing the author bio for my forthcoming book “Youthful Aging Secrets’, so I’m keen to get a handle on my vulnerabilities. I’ve asked colleagues and friends to contribute to a list of my weaknesses.— and, strangely, they seem to be enjoying the task; I wonder why …?
Meanwhile, I’ve created my own list. Here is my confession:
- Always on the back foot with tax, and late paying bills.
- I eat more chocolate ice cream than I should.
- I always have too many projects on the go.
- I’m a slow writer and my first drafts are ugly.
- I pretend I’m not competitive.
- I hold grudges.
- I’m a klutzy clown: when I get excited and start gesticulating at the dinner table, people duck for cover because I’m likely to swipe a wine glass off the table or land the soup in my neighbor’s lap.
Now it’s your turn. What are YOUR weaknesses?
Please respond in the comments or on the WTD Facebook Page. Be honest 🙂