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To what degree to book formats matter?


ChristianMuntean
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I'm working on my third book with a co-author. This book will be a business fable - which is new to me. (And him.) 

We just had a discussion today regarding the ideal format for those fables. Some of the most popular ones (Spencer Johnson's / Lencioni's) both have very short chapters. Johnson tends to not have a lot of plot. Lencioni's are often more fully developed stories. 

The Arbinger Institute's books (Leadership and Self Deception / The Anatomy of Peace) both tend to be written in more standard novel form. 

I'm curious if anyone knows if there is a format that seems to work better (and why?) 

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All the popular ones ("Who Moved My Cheese", "One Minute Manager", "Fish!", etc) use the short chapters.  I'd go with that.

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Christian,

It depends on your audience. I'd argue that literate people see 'Cheese' and 'Fish' books as pretty simplistic, whereas front-line / middle-managers are the audiences for those type of fables. Ask yourself, "Who do I want as customers a year from now?" and write what they're reading. 

Andrew

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Let me admit that I hate fable books, they'd have to improve exponentially for me to call them "simplistic." They're usually most successful when done by established authors with strong brands (who want to make easy money). There have been exceptions, but they prove the rule.  Why are you writing the book? If you want to do it as a hobby and see what happens, fine. If you want it to generate business, I'd do something entirely different. Is this the best investment of your time?

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Thanks for the input. 

For this book - my co-author is doing the majority of the writing. This is a topic he speaks on frequently - basically the experience of owners/leaders who have accomplished a lot but still feel empty or disillusioned upon reaching the top of their particular mountain. He's done well as an entrepreneur launching several businesses across a number of states. 

A number of years ago I was leading a retreat - and attendees started talking about how he and I should write a book together on this topic. That idea sat for a few years until now.

He's not written before, so I'm helping with the process, shaping the concept, providing some depth, etc. So - the labor intensity on my side if very low. 

We are leaning more towards the "Leadership and Self-Deception" or "The Courage To Be Disliked" style of fable - which is more in-depth than the One Minute Manager, etc. We thought that a fable made it easier to illustrate the topic, prevent it from just feeling dry. 
 

On my side - it's pretty easy work and takes little of my time. It's interesting to play with another approach to writing (especially when someone else is doing the grunt work.) The topic is meaningful. 

Business-wise: I think it will help. 75% of business owners in the US are Baby Boomers. That's mirrored in C-Suites. Most are looking at an exit or succession soon - but often struggle or sabotage their transition because of the internal struggles it brings up identity/value/purpose/etc.  I think it could roll into retreats and coaching. 

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There is no question of the vast migration of business owners out of their businesses, voluntarily or involuntarily. First, you're talking about two different subjects: the need to exit a business successfully, and the meaning of your life after that. Second, you were told by a minute sample of people you should write a book together, which is seldom an adequate basis! Third, the very people you describe are not, in my experience, "fable readers." 

I wrote Legacy to focus on meaning in life and "post-success." I think business transition is a much more "scientific" topic, financial and otherwise. I don't think fantasies (fables) make a compelling point, I think examples of people who have made successful transitions are far more powerful and provide more realistic paths.

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I mentioned the exiting owners/CEO's just because they are such an overwhelming segment of the demographic. And that it's an event that triggers these kinds of questions. But the book isn't about exit or succession. 

That aside, I do appreciate the perspective from yourself and everyone else. It's given me something to consider and discuss with my coauthor. 

 

 

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