Bookcraft 2.0: Why Consistency Makes Authors Look More Intelligent


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.

  • At the Book Level — A consistent structure offers orderly navigation. Readers know what to expect and what will come next. The experience is predictable and repeatable. Readers can feel safe that they know where the author is going. That can make an author look smarter, because readers feel the author is following a logical, predictable progression.
  • At the Detail Level — Many companies have a house style that determines how they phrase terms and spell certain words. Publishers and journalists follow a style manual for the same reasons. A consistent style provides credibility and accuracy. If an author is consistent in matters of detail, he or she establishes trust on matters of accuracy — inconsistency undercuts that bond and makes readers wonder whether the thinking is equally inconsistent and flawed.

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
Bookcraft 2.0: Why Bloggers Choose Better Titles than Authors
Bookcraft 2.0: Book Research at Amazon, the Data Giant
Bookcraft 2.0: How Many Words Does It Take to Make a Book?


  1. says

    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”.


  2. says

    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.

  3. says


    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.

  4. says

    “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 :-)

  5. says

    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. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *