Writing a book | Dr. Liz Alexander’s talk at ThoughtWorks

Dr. Liz Alexander visited ThoughtWorks Bangalore today (Sunday Apr 29, 2012) to give a talk about writing a non-fiction book. Many thanks to her for agreeing to give a talk on a sunday morning. It was great to hear from someone who has written 13 books and has a readership of a million.

Below are my key takeaways from talk.

Why to write a book?

  • The question I like to answer is ……
  • Who is my target audience?
  • Where are the audience and how do I find them?


  • Establish a writing platform, show up at places, expand reputation. Blogs, magazine, conferences matter.

SEO of book writing, it is OES

  • O-Opt-in identifier. Take into account demography and psychography.
  • E-Emotional hook. Can people relate themselves to the book?
  • S-Special sauce. Our knowledge and expertise.

Help from others

  • We need the help of proof readers, critical reviewers, layout artists, cover artists, page look and feel designers for a book to be of publishable quality.


  • Vanity publishing vs commercial publishing
  • Vanity publishing requires upfront investment from the author to get it to the market.
  • Commercial publishing takes a lot of effort, credibility, being at the right place right time. Also pays upfront but a lion’s share of revenue goes to the publisher for the risk taken.

Ego vs care for readers

  • It will be tempting to push an idea into a book through vanity publishing which is like a startup idea being tried in a small office space at the corner of the road without any business plans.
  • The desire to sell the books written will also focus on what the readers want than trying to get the book published and not sell much.
  • Critical reviewers are very important to shape the final look. Friends, relatives and fans will just praise the effort without helping to improve.

Once again I thank Dr. Liz Alexander for her presence and sharing the knowledge, Rajiv Mathew for arranging the meetup.

Image: Rajiv Mathew/ThoughtWorks

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