Are You Enough of an Expert?
06 Jul

Are You Enough of an Expert?

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By Denise M. Michaels

Daily I talk with people who want to become book authors. They understand the influence and authority the status of “book author” confers. People who can include that title as part of their accolades on their LinkedIn profile, website, business card, CV and other places are perceived as notches above others.

It’s a powerful way of telling people you know your stuff and are someone to be reckoned with in your specialized niche. When “Book Author” is listed on your business card and other places – that’s quiet influence. When you speak on platforms or become a featured guest on radio and TV, interviewed for your expertise from your book, you get to shout it from the rooftops.

I often hear these two questions when I meet people who are “book-curious:”

  • What should I do if I feel I’m not enough of an expert to qualify for book author status?
  • Should I author a book if I don’t have an advanced degree and those all important initials after my name?

In many cases the answer is, “Yes, of course!”

Okay, when should a person not author a book?

  • If the book is about business or reflecting on your profession in some way and you have less than ten years of experience or are still at an entry-level position, I suggest holding off.
  • If you don’t have a passionate interest in the topic but figure it’ll sell like hotcakes so you intend to do a bunch of Google searches, don’t bother. Don’t waste your time or ours.

Successful WomanHowever, do you envision a motivational book, spiritual book, relationship book, wellness book or other topic unrelated to your business or profession? Do you have a story to tell and tips, ideas, strategies or keys to share based on your experience that’ll help readers rise above and improve their lives? If so, don’t hold back.

Even if your career or entrepreneurial path has taken twists and turns I believe nothing is wasted when it comes to your experience and expertise. You build your point of view or perspective on the totality of everything you’ve done. Never throw anything away or decide it doesn’t matter. There’s a way of tying it all together into a seamless book premise that’s marketable, expresses and leverages you and will be one you enjoy talking about for years to come. I call my process of helping aspiring book authors do this “crystallizing.”

I’m highly skilled at helping people figure out that unique, fresh book premise that’s marketable and helps them stand out and differentiate themselves from the pack. If you’re curious, let’s schedule a Discovery Session. Many people wait and wait to get started because they don’t have that “perfectly baked” idea yet. I can help you get there, often in just one conversation.

Your story is your expertise.

Your story is your expertise.

Yes, I wrote that sentence twice. Your life journey makes you an expert or authority on the topic that matters to you – and you want to share with readers. It’s not about a specific number of years of experience. If you:

  • Successfully lost a significant amount of weight, have kept it off for several years and along the way you became a personal trainer, a nutritionist or did a lot of research on “superfood nutrition” for example – you may wonder – is it enough to author a book? Yes, it is.
  • Overcame sexual abuse and went on to have a successful, healthy marriage, family life and spoke out to help other women survivors of abuse should you author a book? Yes.
  • Don’t have any formal education beyond high school but worked hard to have a successful business, learned the ropes through trial and error and beat all the odds, should you author a book? Yes.

The caveat to the answers above is yes, author a book if your intention is to branch out beyond what you’re doing now and use the book as leverage to sell your expertise in other ways. That means you intend to consult, train, speak, coach and use the book as your way to get the word out and tell people you know your stuff and you’re worth hiring for it.

I once knew a Chiropractor named Lisa. She was in practice 15 years when we met. Ten years before, she started incorporating energy healing techniques into her practice. We had several conversations about the book she envisioned. However Lisa came from a family with a lot of Ph.D.’s and a highly competitive streak. Calling each other out with superior intellect was common practice. She felt her 15 years of experience and stellar academic achievements didn’t stack up because her family was one where uber-scrutiny and skepticism were commonplace. Sadly she never authored a book. Her knowledge and wisdom remained limited to her patients in the mid-sized city where she lived.

Your situation may not be as extreme as Lisa’s. However, you may have friends and family who are the nattering nabobs of negativity. They say things like, “You can’t write a book!” Don’t listen. Ignore their negativity. You know your knowledge and what you’re made of far better than they do. Make your book happen and I guarantee they’ll come around and change how they see you. It’s called respect.

This brings us to the question of academic degrees. Many people feel they can’t author a book until they have a Masters or Doctoral degree to prove their knowledge. Did you know many universities now give credit for life experience? They see the value in your experience. You should, too. Unless you want to author a book about brain surgery or certain intricacies about the law, in most cases additional degrees aren’t necessary. Don’t hide it, either. Mom was right. Honesty is the best policy.

Take what you see as a negative and turn it into a positive. In the introduction to your book include something like:

“If you’re looking for a book on (business planning, organic wellness, raising teens or add your topic) from an author with a lot of advanced college degrees and experience based on years spent in the ivory towers of academia, this isn’t the book for you. However, if you’re looking for a book from an author who’s been in the trenches, has years of hands-on experience and emerged victorious (in business, organic health, as a Mom who raised five successful, happy adults, add your success), keep reading.”

Position the knowledge and wisdom you have as a benefit and a plus for readers. Be honest and unapologetic. A few people will set down your book or click over to the book written by an author with an advanced degree. I believe your ideal readers will see an author who’s self-made and self-taught as more intriguing and one with a fresh point of view.

No matter what, no one will come to your house and throw tomatoes at your living room window shouting, “How dare you author a book! You don’t have a fancy-schmancy degree!”

You dealt with the question upfront and with honesty. Now, help your readers solve the problem you solved in the pages of your book.

My husband Ernie and I recently celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. But back in our dating days there was a time when our relationship crashed and we broke up. Three months later he wanted to get back together. I said I’d consider it if he’d go to relationship counseling with me. He agreed.

The primary requirement I had for a counselor or therapist was that he or she was in a long-term, happy relationship. I’d known friends who ended up in marital therapy from an “expert” with a lot of initials after their name who’d been through one or more divorces. Not a ringing endorsement for a successful relationship or marriage in my estimation.

A married couple who called themselves relationship counselors and who worked as a team kept coming up again and again. They had no advanced degrees to their name. But they had a successful 25 year relationship, including 20 years of marriage. They were expensive – $300 a session back in 2001.  We bought their workbook ($180) and went for five sessions with them. Ernie and I have remained together ever since.

Chances are you have everything you need in terms of experience and credentials to author a great book that helps readers right now. You’ve endured the scars of battle and emerged with knowledge and wisdom that can help readers and help you become more influential and in demand for years. Don’t waste time thinking you must have five more years of experience or a specialized degree before you can even consider becoming a book author. A book is a snapshot in time. It’s about where you’ve come and how you’ve grown now. Connect with me and let’s talk about your book idea and what being a book author can do for you.

PrintDenise M. Michaels is a ghostwriter and book coach. She helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, therapists, speakers and aspiring book authors become more recognizable, influential and in-demand. Using the leverage a book provides – you can become the go-to expert in your niche. To contact Denise about your book or book idea click here now.

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