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Another Way to Show Your Expertise: Write a Book!

Maybe you should write a book! This is not as difficult as it sounds. You're already an expert in a field by virtue of your work experience and/or academic credentials. And even more important, you are enthusiastic about your field and would like to share it.

Fine, but with whom? Decide what specific group of people, such as lawyers or gardeners or teachers or social workers or colleagues, as an audience for your book. What would your audience be most interested in and why? How would your book address that audience's needs?

Next, make a list of tentative titles for your book and keep adding to it. Words such as "how to" are effective. Find other possibilities by visiting a bookstore and browsing in the stacks of related books. Pay attention to books that you pick up and leaf through and glance at their tables of contents. What material do those books cover and who are their publishers? What aren't they covering? How could YOU fill in what is missing?

Put yourself in your reader's shoes. Suppose he or she wanted a book in your topic, but was unable to locate it in a library or bookstore. What material would he or she be most interested in?

Go back and review your list of titles. Which one(s) would literally grab your attention and why? Show your list to family members and friends and invite them to choose their favorite title. And finally, consider what you have and select one of the tentative titles.

Now you are ready to develop a list of chapters for your book! Each chapter should support your title and "speak" to your intended audience. If your book is about developing great websites, for example, then every chapter should tell your reader how to do just that, from start to finish.

Next, write 2 or 3 sample chapters and while you are at it, check references such as the Writer's Market for possible publishers. Make a list of ten of these possible publishers for your book and create a letter that describes your book. Such a letter is known as a query letter. In it, mention your book's tentative title and a few of its highlights. Explain how your book is better than competing books and why you are the best person to write it. Then send that query letter, accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to each of the ten editors in your list.

In the meantime, continue writing your chapters.

Editors will probably not respond immediately and when they do, their letters may state their interest in your book, and would you submit two or three sample chapters? On the other hand, quite a few editors may politely decline. Find five or ten more possible publishers to contact about your book.

In a few months from now, you may be busily at work on a book which has been commissioned by a publisher and will likely be published. Don't worry about rejections. Experienced, published writers get them all of the time, but keep going, nevertheless. That is what you should be doing too. Recognition of your expertise awaits! Happy writing.

Dorothy Zjawin's writing credits include published articles and a book that are based on her teaching experience. Her website,, is a resource site for all writers and features a free forum.

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