I get a bit frustrated with most “business” books. They have a tendency to give about 12 chapters coverage to an idea that could be expressed in one. I have many on my bookshelves that I’ve given up on after about a quarter, not convinced that the rest will add much more to what I have learned already. These books tend to land somewhere between a manual and story, and end up being unable to perform either role particularly well.
I want to write something that is readable, in the sense that you want to actually finish the whole thing. To do that I really want to tell a story, not just a loose set of anecdotes strung together with a simple thesis.
I want to take the reader on a journey, in both the Northern Line and X-Factor senses of the term.
The two books in the last 12 months that I have enjoyed the most both told a story: Dan Lyon’s Disrupted of his journey as a fifty-something journalist into the world of startups, and Will Storr’s The Heretics into the realm of science and pseudo-science. Both authors are bona fide journalists. Am I expecting too much of myself?
I want to explore the idea that trying to do things differently needs different approaches, not just following the rules and processes. I want to see where that idea takes me. I want to meet people, talk to them, find out how they do things and then try and synthesise something out the experience. I have some hunches, but I don’t know if my thesis is correct.
I’m not sure that the structure to which I’m currently working will do that. But the structure is what the publisher wants to see if I want involvement before I’ve actually written the whole thing. Maybe the promise of a deal up front is the problem here. Maybe I need to focus on alternatives to the traditional publisher…
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