November 27, 2006

Bookcraft 2.0: Why Consistency Makes Authors Look More Intelligent

published this at 2:03 pm

books

This week Phil and I reached a benchmark. We finished the first edit on the first of four parts of his book. This first section will serve as the prototype for the rest of the book. As the prototype section, we used it to test our ideas for how the book would work. Could the vision we talked about be a reality when we tried it out across a complete section of posts from Phil’s blog?

As we moved through the section, we were to careful keep to these standards.

  1. The content and structure work together.
  2. If one isn’t working, don’t force a fit. If the structure works for all but one page, that page doesn’t belong. If many pages don’t fit, the structure needs to be refit.
  3. Consistency is a value, a benchmark of quality, and a support for readers. It also makes authors look smart.

That’s right. Consistency makes us look more intelligent.
In fact,

It’s better to be consistently wrong than inconsistently right.

Why Being Consistently Wrong Is better than Inconsistently Right

When we meet someone who thinks and talks like we do, we call that person someone who “gets” it. We think people who think like we think are intelligent . . . and those who don’t, well, they’re not.

I can adjust when I talk to someone. I can put my “best brain” forward. I can listen actively and organize what I say to meet how someone takes in information. Teachers do that every day.

But how does an author do the same thing? Book readers think in many ways. An author can’t adjust for each reader.

The answer is one word, consistency.

Why is it better to be consistently wrong than inconsistently right?

You can spell the word house as hous, and if you do so consistently, readers will accept it as an alternative spelling. Miss once and they will see the mistake.

How Does Consistency Make Authors Look Smarter?

Consistency is key to a predictable book. When a book is predictable, readers know where you’re going without thinking about it — they “get” how you think. Giving readers consistency in every facet of a book means they can concentrate on what you’re saying. Your message and it’s brilliance can shine right through.

Staying consistent lets a reader know how an author works and where he or she is going. Authors can’t adjust for readers, but they can make it easy for readers to follow their thinking. When authors do that, readers feel like the author “gets” it.

We all know that someone who “gets” it is really intelligent. — as intelligent as we are. It proves itself out consistently.

–ME “Liz” Strauss
If you’d like Liz to help you find or make a book from your archives, click on the Work with Liz!! page in the sidebar.

Related articles
Bookcraft 2.0: Find a Book in Your Archives the Way a Publisher Would
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Bookcraft 2.0: Book Research at Amazon, the Data Giant
Bookcraft 2.0: How Many Words Does It Take to Make a Book?

Filed under Business Book, Content, Strategy/Analysis, Successful Blog, Writing | 13 Comments »


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13 Comments to “Bookcraft 2.0: Why Consistency Makes Authors Look More Intelligent”

  1. November 27th, 2006 at 2:23 pm
    Joe said

    Hey Liz,

    Hope this gets through, I’m still having problems with Akismet.

    I got Phil’s book the other day, thanks (and thank you Phil). Good and helpful read.

    Lots of worksheets to help in assessing my performance and how I do things.

    As Phil says, ” Make It Great”.

    Joe

  2. November 27th, 2006 at 2:37 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hey Joe!
    Glad to hear you got it!

  3. November 27th, 2006 at 3:05 pm
    Carolyn Manning said

    Hi Liz,

    You know what thrills me most about your progress on the book? Getting a better understanding of how to manage time. Thanks.

    Carolyn

  4. November 27th, 2006 at 3:08 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Hi Carolyn,
    Thanks for your comment. It’s nice to know what’s useful. That makes me smarter.

  5. November 27th, 2006 at 4:08 pm
    Roger von Oech said

    Hi Liz,

    I feel like I’m jumping into something you’ve been writing about for a while (so I probably don’t have the whole context). That having been said:

    Of course consistency is important in a book! Each of my books (and other products) took about 18 months to complete (on average). That time period allows me to hone my message, work out its ramifications, and present it coherently. A book, after all, is about as permanent a repository of your ideas on a subject as there is. A book is your shot to get it right and in depth and convincingly. So, of course, you want to do a consistent and thorough job. If a person can’t do that, then he/she needs to take longer and/or get a really fine editor or think about expressing himself in a different medium.

  6. November 27th, 2006 at 4:56 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Roger,
    That was so beautifully said. I especially like “in depth and convincingly.” Your writing is musical. :)

  7. November 27th, 2006 at 7:56 pm
    Roger von Oech said

    Liz,

    I thought of one other thing about consistency (and, again, I’m not sure if this fits into the proper context of what you’re advocating), and here goes:

    I think it’s also important to have a “consistent voice” in your book. When have one, the reader gets to know and trust you, and the reading process is made easier.

    Here’s the point I’m trying to get to: I really don’t like to read books on a subject with multiple authors (say twenty) with a single editor introducing each piece. It’s just too jerky of a reading experience for me. It forces me to get used to too many styles and “voices.” It’s the reading equivalent of a committee meeting.

  8. November 28th, 2006 at 2:41 am
    Mark McGuinness said

    “even when it’s Sunday may I be wrong,
    for whenever men are right they are not young”
    e.e. cummings – who was consistently ‘wrong’ about punctuation, grammar and capitalisation, but it didn’t do him much harm :-)

  9. November 28th, 2006 at 7:42 am
    ME Strauss said

    Mark, What a wonderful connection!
    Thank you for raising the bar by bringing literature into the discussion. You are the Poet Laureate of Successful Blog. :)

  10. November 29th, 2006 at 1:24 am
    Mark McGuinness said

    Aw shucks Liz, that’s very nice but the credit goes to e.e.!

    Talking of Poet Laureates, at Magma we’re very pleased to have ex-US Poet Laureate Billy Collins in our latest issue, as well as Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney – details at http://magmapoetry.com/contents.php?issue=36

  11. November 29th, 2006 at 8:01 am
    ME Strauss said

    Hey, Mark,
    I know that e.e. wrote it, but around here you’re the guy who brought it. I’m not seeing other folks making those connections. The title stands. :)

    There you go bring more — proving my point and declaration to be a solid one. :)

  12. November 29th, 2006 at 1:19 pm
    Mark McGuinness said

    Oh well, some have greatness thrust upon them… :-)

  13. November 29th, 2006 at 1:25 pm
    ME Strauss said

    Exactly! Resistance is futile! :)

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