Monday, 7 April 2014

Day Seven: Becoming an Expert on your Book Topic

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Writing a non-fiction book on a topic that is dear to you might be a terrific idea, especially if it's something that you know a lot about and have a lot of experience with. You might even be certain that you know everything there is to know about your topic. But do you? And how are you supposed to convince others that you are an expert on your topic if you don't have a Phd behind your name?

The standard belief is it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Those 10,000 hours can be spent reading about a subject, studying a subject or gaining experience through working in a certain field related to the subject. For example, Robert is a realtor and has been selling houses for 40 years. If you consider that one year is 52 weeks, and a regular work schedule is 8 hours a day for 5 days a week, and take away four weeks for holidays, sick days and so on, then Robert has been spending time on his job for 1,920 hours a year and that makes 76,800 hours that he has in experience as a realtor. That is a more than ample amount of time to become an expert in his field. If we follow the belief that 10,000 hours equals an expert knowledge in a subject, then Robert was an expert in real estate after only a little over 5 years.

Robert can claim to be an expert on his subject based on his many years of experience, but what about those people who work in something that is less measurable? What if you are a writer who hasn't published much, and you are writing on the topic of writing for publication? In that example, you can do several things to increase your credibility as an expert. First, you have to become an expert by spending time studying and reading about the craft of writing, specifically in whatever age category or genre you intend to teach in your non-fiction books. You also need to gain the experience of actually writing. You can't know what it means to be a writer or how to go about the craft of writing without actually spending time writing. If you are writing about health and fitness, then you need to learn everything you can about health and fitness, by both reading and studying the topic and making sure your body is healthy and fit. Doing these things gains you the knowledge and the expertise, but it doesn't gain you the credibility.

In order to gain the credibility, there are more steps you have to take. If you are writing a how-to on writing for publication, then get your writing published. You can write short articles and submit them for anthologies, writing magazines or well-known writing blogs. You can self-publish short stories or even whole novels, as long as you make sure that they are as ready for publication as possible. Publishing poor writing will not help you; it has to be great. Every publication gains you more credibility. If you are writing about health and fitness, become your own success story and take the same steps mentioned above for writers, publish your writing on the topic somewhere. This is true for anyone trying to establish themselves as an expert on any topic.

Another method that could help you establish credibility as an expert in your subject is to utilize videos. YouTube is a great place to publish videos to reach a wide audience. Make videos that are informative, interesting and eye-catching for your viewers. Make sure that the videos impart some knowledge to your viewers, some inside information that will make them want to know more.

Become active on social media. This includes blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. You don't need to overwhelm yourself with a dozen different social media platforms to maintain a presence on, but pick one to three to focus on and use them to help establish your credibility as an expert. Facebook has a "Pages" function where you can create a page dedicated to your topic. You can also link your blog to one of those pages and have every blog post automatically show on your page. But don't just post things that show your expertise; make sure you connect with your followers on a more personal level as well. This will inspire loyalty. Just be careful not to post anything controversial on your business-related page. That page is for your branding as an expert, and expressing personal opinions unrelated to your topic, you can damage your standing with current and future fans.

There has been a lot of controversy about whether or not authors need to have a platform. If you are writing non-fiction, then you definitely need to have a platform. You don't have to have a huge following on social media, but you do need to have enough of a social media platform that if someone looks up your name, they will easily be able to find information about you and link that information to the topic of your expertise.



It's time to announce the one Blog Your Book in 30 Days member who wins a Writing Voices journal. Winner. The winner was drawn by a random number generator.

And the winner is: 

Cecilia Clark!

Congratulations, Cecilia!

1 comment:

  1. squeal squeal squeal leaping up and down... I am an expert! Now I know I am an expert! whoot whoot squeal. I have been reading and studying my whole life. I could read before three and have never stopped reading since. I have been a parent for half a century so I must be an expert in that too and gosh as for writing, there is not a day gone by since I picked up my first crayon that I have not written something. I studied professional writing and editing over seven or eight years along with many other things and am a life long learner so I claim expert status in life long learning too. Noe I am learning poetry and rhyme and expanding my digital platform and learning all that that entails. A year ago I had a few small bits and pieces published, the odd magazine article, a few flash fictions and fourty million committee documents not to mention teaching and training lesson plans. So here I am a year after deciding that writing was my new career focus and wow, what a year. I think the cover of that prize is perfect for me. Thank you Becky.


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