Why Speakers Fear Writing Books


It would seem like a natural progression for a speaker to become an author but all too often the transition does not take place, or if it does it is years in the making.

Dear Speakers:
Let’s first review your talent as a successful speaker…

  • You obviously have quality content, or why else would you take the risk of standing up in front of 100’s or even 1,000’s of people and talking?
  • You have studied the interests and needs of your target market in order to fill a need, solve a problem and establish rapport.
  • You have done your research to present tangible and credible facts.
  • You have spent countless hours on PowerPoint or Keynote slides to visually represent your gems of wisdom.
  • You have crafted funny, inspiring and compelling stories to get your point across.

If you have agreed with the above statements, you already have a solid book inside of you so what is stopping you?

Fear #1:  I am overwhelmed by the sheer mass of it all.  I have all of these notes, copies of my speeches, blogs, newsletters, ezines, and audio files of my content but I don’t even know where to start.  Whenever I think about trying to organize it I give up.

Most people feel the same way about their taxes.  Our financial lives are all on paper in different files, in different drawers, closets and boxes and we don’t even want to start trying to organize them.  But isn’t it great when your tax person gives you an assessment tool that reminds you of different areas for deductions you forgot about and you can simply fill in the blanks?  Those receipts are the gems of your financial life.

All of your existing content, regardless of the medium, are your writing gems.  A quality collaborator or editor will be able to provide you with tools and ideas to help “chunk” out these nuggets for you or even simply take your “receipts” and create a quality product for you.  A new, second set of eyes is often the best method for getting things organized.  You are not alone – what a relief!

Fear #2:  I am articulate when I am speaking to my audience, but when I try to put thoughts down on paper, I freeze up.

You have a talent for the art of speaking and engaging a room full of people while making each audience member feel like you are talking directly to him/her.  I admire your ability to make it look so effortless.  Honor your own talent and don’t feel badly because it is not a seamless process for you to put it down on paper.  Remember that not all writers make great speakers either!  Take action and ask for help.  Collaboration can be an incredibly energizing creative process.

Fear #3:  If I am considered an expert or thought leader in my field, I feel like my manuscript has to be perfect and so I don’t even want to begin.

We tend to be procrastinators with certain projects out of a fear that it, or we, will not be good enough.  How many times as a child did you say you didn’t feel like playing a game or a sport because you didn’t know how and did not want to fail?  We are afraid to start something that could possibly verify our sense of inadequacy.  Perfectionism can be a paralyzing force in many areas of our lives.

The great thing about writing is it does not have to be a solo event.  Just like any other professional project, your results are much better when you surround yourself with talented people who can help.  A good editor knows how to ask the right questions and weave your message.  She should also know how to “rookie-proof” your content so that it speaks to your target market regardless of their education level or demographics.  (This concept of rookie-proofing will be addressed in more detail in a later blog, so stay tuned.)

Fear #4:  I just presented most of my content to my audience, why would they spend money on the book?

Why do you buy other speaker’s books?  Why do we go see John Gray, Wayne Dyer or Suze Orman and still buy their books?  Because we want more time to absorb the content.  We want to work through the exercises in the book, or reread sections that were a-ha moments for us.  We want to learn more on our own time, at our own pace, with the opportunity to find new nuggets each time.  Your content has value and depth.  Allow your audience the opportunity to go deeper.

Dear New Author:
Your book has arrived.  It is on stage with you.  It is in the hands of your audience members and you can see it on the tables in the back of the room.  Congratulations!  Next…

7 Responses to “Why Speakers Fear Writing Books”

  1. 1 Christopher

    Excellent insights!
    Both speaking and writing are rare gifts – few people possess both, let alone excel at either. Capturing the unique essence of a speaker’s message and delivery is a challenge; making it “authentic” is best accomplished when the writer does so using the speaker’s “voice”. Thanks, Christine, for accomplishing this consistently!

  2. 2 Amy

    Christine, This is a fantastic blog post! I need to forward it to all of my speaker friends because they deal with many of these fears. I often hear them talk about their struggles of going from stage to the writing phase and how overwhelming it is for them. You make a good point here that they do not need to do it alone. Getting help with the creative process is a surefire way to get all your ideas out of your head and onto the page! And what speaker does not want to see their book in the hands of their audience? Priceless!

  3. 3 Mary Marcdante

    Christine, I agree with Amy. Every speaker needs to read this blog post.

    I’ve been speaking for close to 30 years, and even with two books published – one with Simon & Schuster and one sponsor-published, I still confront those fears you’ve described. I wonder how many more books I could have shared with the world had I known in the early years of my career how much easier, less stressful, and fun editors can make the process.

    Each of my books had a minimum of two editors during the writing process as well as readers and I couldn’t not have accomplished what I did without them. I am a good writer and yet, it still took ten years to get my first book My Mother, My Friend out of me because of exactly what you’ve identified – feeling overwhelmed, wanting it to be perfect, thinking I might not measure up to the task, and not asking for help soon enough.

    My second book, Living with Enthusiasm, which was requested by a sponsor/client for a conference, was completed in five months (their timeline, certainly not mine) because of the great editors I worked with and what I’d learned from my editors the first time around.

    Editors rock! Thank you for all the good you do.

    Mary Marcdante

  4. 4 AmyK

    Even Einstein said he worked better with a deadline! For speakers, who hold the hands of those in the audience, it is a great thing when someone else can hold theirs. To have poignant content and a stimulating, engaging delivery holds true for both a great speech and a great read, but they often require a different approach. This blog is a must read for speakers and writers alike! How comforting to have another brilliant brain on your team when you embark on your next creative adventure! Now, about all my notes, copies of speeches, audio files and ezines… ;-)

  5. 5 Teresa

    Spot on Christine! Insightful and thoroughly accurate. Fear aside, there’s also the discipline it takes to get from mind to manuscript to marketplace. Another reason why a published author’s book will always be the gold standard. Once again, great commentary.

    Teresa Jache

  6. 6 Barbara

    Christine, you must be a mind-reader. I’ve been speaking for 10 years and the thought of writing a book makes me ill – yet I know it must be done. Thanks for giving me the ok to ask for help. You rock!

  7. 7 Christine

    It is my pleasure. I am inspired to help people succeed and work through what is holding them back. I welcome the opportunity to support your endeavors.

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