Does Your Book Suffer From ‘Me-Too Syndrome’?

Me-Too SyndromeAs a publisher, I have the opportunity to read many, many books and manuscripts.  Some are wonderful, some need a bit of polishing, and others make the back of my neck tingle because they are tremendously good.

And then, there are a few books that are not ready for publication.  These books have a common problem.  They all sound alike!

I’ve coined this writing challenge the ‘Me-Too Syndrome’.  This happens when an author writes a book which repeats information he learned in a training program, workshop series, or from reading other popular books on the topic.  The problem with these types of books is that readers feel like they’ve heard all the information already and usually don’t take the time to finish the book.

Thankfully, there is an easy cure for ‘Me-Too Syndrome’.

It’s important that your book is unique and brings something new to the conversation about the topic you are exploring.

By the way, right now you may be thinking that you don’t have any fresh or unique content to share with your readers.  Don’t listen to that fear.  It’s an old story and untrue. You can do this!

To create unique content for your book, examine all the information that you want to share with your readers.  Look for ways that you can combine that information with stories from your personal life or from the lives of your clients.  Stories illustrate points powerfully and add unique content.

For example, if you are writing a book on goal setting, what successes and failures have you experienced with goal setting?  How has mastering goal setting impacted your life?  What benefits have you seen in your career, health, relationships, and finances now that you use goal setting techniques?

Explore these questions and you’ll uncover a wealth of stories that only you can tell.

Next, look at your material and see how you can present it in a fresh way.  Can you create a new process, devise a shortcut, or teach readers how to ensure that they can implement what they read?

If you cannot find a way to present your material in a new way, start to teach it in workshop or teleclass format.  As you teach others, you will naturally find ways to communicate your core information that are unique and true to you because you will filter the information through your experiences and values.

Finally, be choosy about what material from others that you use in your book.  Let me pick on coaches for a moment because I’m a trained coach.  When I went to coaching school in 2001, I learned a great tool called the Wheel of Life exercise.  I loved it and seriously considered using it in my first book.  Thankfully, my editor dissuaded me from doing so.  That particular exercise was developed in the 1960’s and is copyrighted material.  I thought it was new because it was new to me but actually, it’s been around a very long time.

Evaluate your material and use only the very best information in your book.  It’s okay to use concepts you’ve learned from others if those concepts support your premise and are surrounded by information which you create.

When you take these three steps: using stories, creating unique methods, and carefully evaluating all the material in your book, you will fashion a book that is juicy, special, and different from every other book in the world.

How does this information inspire you?  Share your ideas by commenting below.

Comments 14

  • Lynne,
    This is probably my biggest challenge. I am writing a book that I hope will simplify my particular life journey, so I am drawing on concepts that I have learned from others. Finding ways to freshen and update these concepts, and to personalize my experience with them is perhaps my best motivation for writing. I spent years thinking that I had nothing new to say and am just recently finding my voice. Thanks for the encouragement!
    p.s. Loved the newsletter story about the float trip. I grew up in Missouri and your story brought back great memories.

    • Thanks Susan. Remember that your voice is worthy and important. It may not seem that way to you because you hear it all the time in your head. To others, it is brand new and just what they were looking for.

  • Interesting – I didn’t realise the Wheel Of Life was copyrighted. Eeek! I use it a lot and now I feel bad that I’m not giving credit where its due.

  • I am glad to see someone from the St. Louis area besides myself. I have written a book about being diagnosed with cancer and changing my life. The book reflects what some doctors state today and that it does work. My question can you put too much information in a book.

    • Hi Gail-
      So nice to connect with a local writer! You can put too much information in a book. If it feels heavy or overwhelming to the readers, they may not finish it. My suggestion is to get clear on what you want to teach in your book and keep your focus on those points. Save the other material for your next book or for articles. Great question!

  • This inspires me to pursue an idea I had. I had noted an interest among young people in ways to find a like-minded date. I also realize that the economy is on people’s minds. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to have a book of tips on finding a money-wise spirit/soul mate.

  • Thank you SO much for this post. I struggle with feeling I have nothing new to say. I am going to ‘test drive’ my topic with some webinars soon. Thanks for that tip!

    • Great! I bet you’ll find that teaching really opens up new ideas for you. There is nothing like audience reaction and feedback to let you know you are on the right track.

  • Great topic, I have been struggling with what and how much to include from other sources in my book. I know my approach is unique, but need to include supporting materials for some of the concepts. I want to show that I know my stuff and also refer to the experts for credibility. A fine line to walk.

  • Lynne – This is great information. I am writing my first book and sometimes I do feel like everything “has been said.” Thanks for addressing that fear and giving some great tips on making your writing uniquely you.

  • Dear Lynne,
    Have just read your excellent advice on curing the Me-Too Syndrome. When giving lectures or presentations I found what you suggest is what really works. People want the authentic you, not what others say. They want to walk in your shoes, see through your eyes in the same way we saw those eagles soaring above you, heard the occasional dip of your paddle and experienced what you experienced. Our hearts yearn to connect at a deep human level and thereby be enriched.
    Thank you Lynne.
    Best late-Autumn wishes from Emasalo island off the coast of Finland.
    PS Today I’m “cleaning up” a book / program I’ve written, “Break Free…how to have the life and career you want” so your advice came at the perfect time.

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