Monday

HOW TO WRITE A HOW TO

Writing a "How To" book has changed forever. Now, before you write and tell me that you prefer to have a hardcopy book to refer to and how you will never use any other source of information to learn how to do something new, or different, or better, or whatever, let's look at the facts.
The cost of information today is virtually zero. If you have "access," which means a connection to the internet, then you have more information than any one person could digest in 10 lifetimes, maybe that should be 100 or a 1000. How to change your life, learn Spanish, fix a leaky faucet, make cookies, make love, write a book, take a picture, build a bomb, paint a house, travel cheap, lose weight, cure illness, play Sudoku, improve a golf grip, plant a tree...you get it - anything is available...for free. It may be a bit unruly, trying to organize all of the information and sort through the accurate and inaccurate, but it's all there.
This is a bit self-defeating in my case, but writing a book to show people "how-to" is going the way of the dodo bird. For those tasks that require pictures, there is You Tube, the second biggest search engine in the world and besides clandestine videos of partiers gone wild, there is also an unbelievable number of factual and informative videos posted by professionals and amateurs alike who will show you exactly how to perform a task. Can your self-published, hard copy book that suffers from under-financed marketing and promotion compete - maybe..but yours will be the exception. BTW, thank God for exceptions but really, from a business point of view, there are thousands upon thousands of videos, blogs (like this one) and other online resources who are giving it away for nothing.
Most of the people who read this offering are writers and I realize that my tone today is rather cynical but reality is hard to sugar coat and besides I read a blog saying that too much sugar isn't good for us - writing a book for simply "informative" purposes is rather risky. Assuming of course, that you are also writing to make a living or at least return your investment of time, perhaps we should consider some alternative projects to write about. Now, sometimes there is SO much information available that is contradictory, ill-informed or unreliable (think climate change) that it begs for a reasoned, objective and updated approach and perhaps you are the person to tackle it - go for it! But, to simply offer a plain "how-to," full of lists of instructions is unlikely to start any viral marketing fires.
So here is a thought, if we truly want to change the world, provide "access" to the third world so that they can learn to fish and feed themselves for a lifetime - of course, we might also create competition for those of us comfortably ensconced in our safe worlds of information at our fingertips. OK, I'm climbing down from my soapbox but their are still millions of opportunities to write non-fiction and make a difference - what are you writing?
I have also heard a rumor that there is information online about punctuation and grammar - a new search starts!!!