More than anything else, I work with authors on books. It is endlessly fascinating, deeply rewarding, and occasionally frustrating, but always, always worth it.
I have always loved reading. I have always wanted to write books. When I was 48, I said to myself, “If I don’t write a book by the time I am 50, who am I kidding?” So I gave up my day job and wrote one. It was successful, and I was off.
From that moment forward, I defined myself as an author. Since then I have written, coached, edited, ghost written, and shepherded books. This is who I am.
In a reflective moment, I asked myself, why books? What makes books so different from something else I could do, like writing code, managing people, helping marketers market, or giving speeches?
Here’s an incomplete and randomly ordered list of answers to the question, “Why do I work on books?”
- When I am working on a book — writing, editing, ghost writing — I am in a flow state. This is deeply pleasurable.
- I love words. So I love writing. So I love books.
- I love ideas. Books are about ideas, moreso than any other medium.
- I love stories. Books are full of stories. Stories are about people, and people are fascinating.
- Books expose you to the world, so you can grow.
- Authors are so ambitious, and yet so vulnerable. They need help, and they are worth helping.
- When you help an author, you not only help a person to realize their dream, you allow their ideas to get out into the world and do good. This is noble and rewarding.
- The world of publishing is perverse and full of hucksters and bad deals and disappointment. Authors need an experienced person to help them navigate that world. That’s a public service to good people.
- Book titles are a cool puzzle to figure out.
- Book covers are so diverse and interesting. I like working with graphical artists with talent to make a visual icon for an idea.
- A book is a big project. It takes months and years to plan, prepare content, write, edit, and publish a book. I like working on big projects where work over a long period generates a really worthwhile result.
- The research that goes into books enables you to discover wonderful things. Writing a book is, more than anything else, a learning experience.
- Figuring out the right turn of phrase — as an author or as an editor — is transformative. It turns a good idea into a great idea that is easy to spread. That’s a peak experience.
- Structuring a book is a puzzle. I like puzzles.
- Sitting in a library full of books — like my office — is an immersive experience. You can feel all the knowledge and talent surrounding you.
- I like seeing my name on the front of a book. Purely egotistical, sure, but it somehow says, “This is a person you need to pay attention to!”
- Books are physical objects. They have a heft to them. They seem substantial; when you help create one, you can point to it and say “I helped make this,” as you would with a piece of furniture. Other acts of creation, like coding software or making video, feel somehow ephemeral by comparison.
- Anyone reading a book is in a relationship with the author for at least a couple of hours. This is not true of shorter pieces like articles. Getting my brain to engage with yours for a few hours — well, that seems worth doing.
- Books change people’s minds. If they are successful, the reader does things differently after reading them. In other words, they have an impact that matters.
- They’re colorful.
- They require concentration — to create, to edit, and to read. Concentration is good for the mind.
- There really is nothing like seeing a couple hundred copies of your book stacked up somewhere so you can sign them for people.
- People who read a book will sometimes contact you and tell you how it made a difference to them. That’s an awesome and humbling thing to experience.
- If you work on books, you have an excuse to go into bookstores. And there is no store in the world better than a bookstore.
- Books smell good. The older they are, the better they smell.
Go ahead. Add your ideas in the comments. I’m sure there are more reasons to love books that I missed.