One of my students sent me a link yesterday that I have to share with you.
I have already posted it on my Facebook page. The link is an 18-minute presentation by a fellow named Simon Sinek about what it takes for companies to succeed, specifically in the area of innovation. Of course, while I am watching it, I am thinking about writing books and marketing books, which is my baileywick these days.
In a nutshell, he talks about how typically companies talk about what they offer, how it works, and if they get to it, why they do what they do. Sinek suggests that we have that backwards. It’s the why that’s most important, followed by the how. Then you get to the what.
He uses the examples of Apple Computers and the Wright Brothers. And since I really want you to watch the video, I won’t steal my own thunder. But as I watched it, I realized that it comes down to believing–faith. In the early years, Steve Jobs used to use words like “crusade,” and “revolution.” He saw things that others in his own company couldn’t see. That’s why they brought him back after he retired, and that’s why Apple is the company to emulate these days. They have it right, because they know why they do what they do. They are thinking about their business in the right way.
What does this have to do with writing books, or even more, selling them? At finals time for my Narrative Writing class this past semester, I asked each student the question: “What is your life philosophy, and how is that reflected in your writing?”
Stephen Lawhead wrote a chapter in Philip Yancey’s book, Reality and the Vision, about the author who inspired him: J. R. R. Tolkien. In it, he shares the conclusion he came to about his own writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, who you are will be reflected in that writing.
And whether you write westerns, how-to books, horror, fantasy or romance, who you are and what you believe can’t help but be reflected in your writing. So rather than trying to sell your book by saying, “Hey you want to read a great western?” perhaps you need to see what the story is really about. Maybe it’s about courage, or the value of family, or growing up into a man. Whatever it is, that’s really what the reader is looking for. That is, in addition to a well-written story.
You need to believe in your work, not because you know how to put a sentence together, but because you know you have something important to say. It doesn’t have to be heavy handed and preachy; obviously, it’s better if it isn’t. But it should be a true representation of what you consider significant.
That’s passion. That’s vision. And that’s where faith comes in.