My new book, The MECE Muse, is being distributed worldwide today and I could not wait for this moment. It’s been gratifying to hear and read early accolades about a project that was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I have had professionally to date.
As I continued to reflect on this journey, I thought about decisions that paid dividends. Although each of the techniques below created turning points in my writing journey, a key theme stuck out – they all centered on feedback. Creating space to receive feedback throughout the writing process in whatever form is an area all authors should take seriously.
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard
Feedback beta reader group. Beta readers are a group of people curated from your targeted future book readers to preview your manuscript at various different points with the sole intent on giving you feedback. Based on the topic, beta readers give invaluable insights of what they need from the book. I had a diverse set of 7-12 individuals, all who were living versions of the avatar of my ideal readers. They collectively picked my book apart and helped me put it back together. If you are writing a book and do nothing else – make sure you assemble beta readers that are not afraid to provide constructive feedback.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates
Primary research. While an author may decide to conduct secondary research, taking the extra step to do your own research is a great differentiator. While primary research adds an additional layer of scope and time to your book project, it is well worth it. Not only is it a great way to laser focus on the angle of your book, what you may uncover can sometimes surprise you. In the MECE Muse, I conducted research by connecting with over 50 consulting partners and leaders across 27 different professional services firms on what makes a great consultant.
“There is no failure. Only feedback.” – Robert Allen
Bring your experiences to life. Attending events with fireside chats of consulting partners and leaders was the closest I got to finding mentorship earlier in my career. I wanted to capture the power of clarity that a leader fireside chat provides and conducted interviews as a subset of primary research for the book. I purposefully kept interviews largely intact to mimic a true fireside chat in the voice of the consulting partner that provided the story. What is interesting is that while I already had similar content to what they collectively shared, the coupling of their individual perspectives provided interesting texture while validating concepts and hypotheses I already had based on my 15 years of consulting experience.
Getting a popular vote on key visual design elements. With books, details really matter. The book cover and internal design layouts are key areas that I continue to receive praise on. It took a global village to decide on the book design elements. While I focused on obtaining feedback on content from targeted readers, 100s of people across the world – many whom were perfect strangers – in person and online gave me feedback on the book designs.
“Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.” – Jim Trinka and Les Wallace
Feedback from an online course cohort. Enrolling in Seth Godin’s altMBA leadership development program was also one of the best decisions I made for my book journey. The altMBA is a 4 week virtual immersive sprint that you experience with 100 people all over the world at the same time The program’s sole intent is to arm you with tools, concepts, and candid “altMBA style” feedback to help you take whatever your goals to the next level. My cohort provided generous feedback on all aspects of the book from angle positioning, who the book is for, constraints, storyline techniques, and much more. While this hack is not for everyone or for every program, my altMBA experience provided the momentum I needed to complete the book.
This perfect storm of feedback hacks brought clarity to my message, helped me dig deep to provide value to my targeted reader, and gave me the confidence to push through the end of this years long project.
Here’s to your journey to greatness.