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Writing a book? Make sure you set the tone right for your reader. PART THREE

Read time – 4 mins.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve witnessed it since being in publishing consultancy. A dynamic and brilliant leader with a following of thousands would come to consult with me. They ticked all the boxes in terms of being an influential leader—they had a massive social media presence, tens of thousands read their blog and they were loved and adored by their followers. Yet when it came to securing a conventional publishing deal, they had consistently fallen short. First, I’d ask to see their blog posts—usually well-articulated with a ton of engagement. Then I’d ask to see their book manuscript, and more often than not, it would read the same as their blog posts.

As a general rule, your blog post sounds more like your speaking voice, but if you are writing a non-fiction book—especially if you want a publishing deal—most publishers will be looking for a manuscript that is written more formally. This is because a greater percentage of them are still currently adhering to more conventional writing styles, and an informal tone is not usually going to cut it.

In this three-part article series we’ve been exploring tone, particularly as it relates to the written world. In part one, we looked at the difference between your tone in the spoken and written word, setting the right tone for your audience, how your personal tone affects your writing, and engaging different emotions.

In the second part of this article series we looked at some of the common pitfalls with tone.

In this article we’ll be looking at formal and informal styles, so you can choose the most effective style for your book.

New Program for Authors Starts July 16th 2019
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STYLE OF YOUR MESSAGE

There are many elements to style, but one of the key ones is whether you make your style more formal or informal.

(1) FORMAL

A formal writing style is one that adheres to the conventions of writing. It is going to be grammatically correct, with carefully structured sentences that are more professionally constructed and sometimes less personal. An informal writing style is more casual. It is not going to conform to strict conventions and will resemble the spoken word for most people (unless you speak very formally).

A formal writing style will deliver contrasting benefits to an informal style:
    •  It can sound more authoritative and professional in some settings
    • If your audience is more likely to respond to a formal style, it can be a wiser choice (i.e. if your audience is more conservative in nature)
    • It can be a solid container for breaking up stereotypes and smashing up preconceived perceptions, particularly in a social evolutionary context
    • For publishers and some magazines, it can be the deal breaker for getting an article or book published.

(2) INFORMAL

An informal communication is likely to be closer to your spoken voice. Depending on how you speak, it might be grammatically incorrect, with any of the colloquialisms and language adaptations that come from your upbringing or unique vocabulary.

An informal writing style will deliver a number of benefits:
    • If your own speaking style is fairly informal, then an informal writing style will feel and sound more familiar to you
    • If your audience is more likely to speak in an informal style, it can create a more recognizable connection to them
    • You can often have more fun with an informal style, using street-smart language and slang
    • It can feel a lot more personal.
New Program for Authors Starts July 16th 2016
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How formal or informal your writing is will change in different situations.

As we highlighted above, if you are writing a blog post, it might be more appropriate to create an informal piece that is closer to how you speak, but if you are writing a book, it is more traditional to write formally. On a video promoting your brand, your tone might be more formal, but on a live social media broadcast where you are ripping your heart open about something you care about, your tone might be more informal. So your tone needs to adapt, depending on your vehicle of communication.

Whether you communicate more formally or informally depends on a number of interrelated factors. They include:
    • Your audience, and the desired effect of what you share
    • How you present yourself in life.

1 – Audience and the desired effect of what you share

The other key consideration for whether you choose an informal or formal style is your audience. You need to consider what the best way to communicate with them is so that your message is effectively received.

If you already have an informal speaking voice (using lots of slang, swear words, adapted grammar, etc.) and you are calling people in who are similar to you, then it is likely that you will speak or write in a way that is closer to how you yourself communicate. But if you are usually pretty informal and are trying to smash up stereotypes, build bridges, and connect with others outside your usual sphere, you will likely need to write more formally.

 

If we understand that the many challenges that we are working to overcome are based upon our being entrained to notice each other’s differences and not similarities, much of the work that we are doing will be to build bridges with our words. Often pulling back on our informalities (if we are usually more informal) or softening our formalities (if we are usually more formal) can help to build these bridges.

2 – How you present yourself in life

Sometimes we will need to write in a different way to how we present ourselves in life. A particular speech or presentation might call for a more (or less) formal approach. It’s essential that we see the difference between doing this because we understand the impact we want to have versus doing this because we are playing a role.

 

Adapting the formality of your tone isn’t a mask that you wear. It’s more an understanding that you can morph into different styles of speaking or writing to create a better connection and communication with the intended receiver of what you are sharing.


NEW PROGRAM FOR AUTHORS STARTS JULY 16th 2019

For the past decade, Sasha Allenby has been a ghostwriter for some of the greatest thought-leaders of our time. Her journey started when she co-authored a bestselling book that was published in 15 languages worldwide by industry giants, Hay House. Since then, Sasha has written over 30 books for global change agents. Following the events of the last couple of years, she turned her skill set to crafting social messages. Her latest book Catalyst: Speaking, writing and leading for social evolution supports thought-leaders to craft dynamic messages that contribute to change. 


You are a catalyst or visionary who is crafting an evolutionary message. You want to be part of a community that supports you to make a difference with your spoken and written word. Sign up to receive weekly blogs and updates that enable you to craft your unique message.


Writing a book? Make sure you set the tone right for your reader. PART TWO

Read time – 4 mins.

“I’m not sure why I’m not getting more speaking gigs,” Solomon confided. It was obvious that he ticked all the boxes. An authentic and heartfelt spiritual teacher with a bestselling book, a solid reputation, a unique message, and a dedicated following, Solomon was not only a powerful speaker but also a  “rare gem” in his industry. We sat down for a couple of hours tracking back to see if we could find where the gap was. It seemed that his issue was closing deals, so I went back over his last few emails where a speaking gig had seemed imminent and quickly identified the issue. Although he felt the way he was asking for money was warm and professional, in writing it sounded blunt and demanding.

Although Solomon’s case was an email communication, the same applies when you are writing a book. In Solomon’s case, there was a disconnect between what he was saying and the outcome that he wanted. The same applies to the relationship between you and your reader. If you don’t set the right tone and connect to your reader, they will likely close your book and you won’t create or sustain the vital connection that is required to influence your audience.

 

In the last post we looked at the difference between your tone in the spoken and written word, setting the right tone for your audience, how your tone affects your writing, and engaging different emotions. In this post we’re going to go deeper. We’ll be looking at some of the common pitfalls with tone so you can check that you haven’t fallen into patterns that are likely to lose your reader.

New Program for Authors Starts July 16th 2019
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Common Pitfalls with Tone

We’ve already established that tone can be your most powerful ally. But what about when you get it wrong? The following tones are likely to make your reader close your book.

Dry

If your tone is too dry, you’ll find yourself speaking or writing with no personality, inspiration, or emotion. It won’t ignite any fire or passion in your audience and it may feel like you are reading from a script or overloading your audience with facts that don’t connect to them.

Condescending

If your tone is condescending, it will sound like you know better than anyone else. These tones accompany an idea that there is an “us” who knows better, and a “them” who needs to learn. It will sound like you are talking down to your audience and you will alienate them from what you are sharing.

Angry

Some “kick-ass” qualities can be essential for getting your statement across. However, it can also fall the other way. Often a tone becomes an expression of unprocessed anger. This can occur when a voice has been repressed and unheard for some time and then suddenly finds a channel for its expression. It can feel so good to be consistently angry after a lifetime of oppression, but if you get stuck there, you will be back in the sphere of generating rage without the ability to move yourself, or your audience, through it productively or create impact in the world. It’s essential to distinguish between cathartic writing—for your own growth and healing—and the writing that needs to be presented to your audience in your book.

New Program for Authors Starts July 16th 2016
click here to learn more and register

Unsuccessfully Comic

Sometimes a piece of well-timed humor can cut through tension like a knife. When we can laugh at some element of our current situation, however absurd it is, it takes us out of survival mode and enables us to step back, see the bigger picture, and get creative in our ideas for creating change. However, comedy can be easier to imagine than it is to carry out, especially in the written word. I’m naturally lighthearted and humorous in life, but that has rarely translated well into my writing, and any attempts at comic writing so far have left me cringing on the reread. If your comedy is off, it can alienate your reader.

Flaky

If you are a visionary, a luminary—someone who has an image of creating a brighter future—then you need to take care how you present this to an audience. Again, if you don’t ground your vision in the present, if you only focus on what might be and ignore what is, it can feel like you are presenting from within a bubble, and your audience is likely to dismiss what you say.


SUMMARY AND EXERCISE

In this article we’ve looked at some of the common pitfalls with tone. When I work with authors who are crafting their books, one of the exercises I often give them is to write a blog post or a section for their book, then practice writing in the above styles in a really exaggerated way. This exercise can be very helpful, because once you’ve emphasized the above styles in writing, it can be easier to spot if you fall into them when you are writing your book.

 

Now that we’ve looked at some of the common pitfalls, in the next article we’ll be asking, “How do you stay connected to your reader when you need to be fierce or blunt with your tone?” We’ll also be looking at formal and informal tones, so you can choose the most effective style for your book.


NEW PROGRAM FOR AUTHORS STARTS JULY 16th 2019

For the past decade, Sasha Allenby has been a ghostwriter for some of the greatest thought-leaders of our time. Her journey started when she co-authored a bestselling book that was published in 15 languages worldwide by industry giants, Hay House. Since then, Sasha has written over 30 books for global change agents. Following the events of the last couple of years, she turned her skill set to crafting social messages. Her latest book Catalyst: Speaking, writing and leading for social evolution supports thought-leaders to craft dynamic messages that contribute to change. 


You are a catalyst or visionary who is crafting an evolutionary message. You want to be part of a community that supports you to make a difference with your spoken and written word. Sign up to receive weekly blogs and updates that enable you to craft your unique message.


Writing a book? Make sure you set the tone right for your reader. PART ONE

Read time – 5 mins.

Have you ever had someone react negatively to a text or email you sent and wondered what went wrong? Nine times out of ten it was because of how difficult it can be to convey tone in the written form. Maybe there was a time when you found yourself confused about why you ended up in an argument based on something that you said? Again, it’s likely that your tone was the problem, and not the content of what you shared.

In communication, we often put far too much emphasis on what we are saying when, in fact, tone can be everything. Mastering tone is the key to artful communication in both the spoken and written word. However, it’s especially vital in the written word when your reader can’t hear the subtle nuances behind what you are saying.

 

If you are writing a book, setting the right tone for your reader is crucial. There are so many different elements to consider that we’ve divided this article series into several parts so you can get some clarity around the essentials of tone, and apply it to writing a book (or other forms of written communication).

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Difference Between Tone in the Spoken and Written Word

There are two types of tone, and we want to distinguish between them here.
1.  The tone of voice that you use to convey a spoken message

This includes the pace of how you speak (fast or slow), the volume (loud or soft), the energy behind your words (flat or passionate), etc. It also includes the different words that you decide to emphasize.

2. The mood you create with your spoken or written word

This includes your choice of words and how you arrange them to create a mood or atmosphere. It’s a combination of the types of words you choose—whether they are words that instill hope or fear, for example—and the context within which you present them.

When you are writing a book, your tone can set your reader’s heart’s on fire. It can also shut them down. A successful author has to become masterful in creating mood and climate on the page. Just as a director of a movie is not only thinking of the words that the actors are saying, but also how the set, lighting, and music add to the ambiance of a film, so do you, too, need to consider the mood you are creating when you write.

Perhaps one of the most vital understandings about tone is that our spoken and written word conveys a different feeling. An example of this can be seen in the work of spiritual teacher Anthony de Mello. His book Awareness was crafted from an eight-hour workshop that he gave. The workshop was hysterically funny, but his light, humorous and heartfelt tone did not translate to the page and, although brilliant, the book reads more like a dry, spiritual scripture with no humor whatsoever. Perhaps you have experienced something similar if you created an audio recording that you tried to transcribe.

 

You can still use your transcribed spoken material for the content of your book, and many great leaders record their lectures, talks or workshops and craft them into writing, but if you are doing this, you need to ensure that what you have said translates well into the written form.

New Program for Authors Starts July 16th 2016
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Defining Your Audience Helps Set Your Tone

Most people imagine that writing a book starts with developing concepts or telling great stories. While these are essential elements of book writing, there’s a crucial step before you start. You need to figure out who the book is for, what their needs are, and why your book is going to meet those needs. One of the most common mistakes that a potential author makes is that, if asked the question, “Who is this book for,” they answer, “Everyone, from 18 to 80.” If your main audience are millennials, for example, then that’s going to require a totally different tone than if you are speaking to spiritual entrepreneurs or academics. So part of tone mastery is adjusting your tone to the needs of the reader you are reaching. Really considering the communication that is required in order to create a connection.


Finding Your Voice as a Writer

There is often a force behind how we speak and write that is so imperceptible that it can be difficult to pinpoint. Many factors contribute—where you are on your own life journey, how congruent you are with the words you are sharing, how authentically you are living what you are teaching, as well as how much personal power you feel you have in your self-esteem, confidence, and courage to bring your statement forward.

If there are any parts of you that are conflicted about what you are sharing, then the tone of your writing can feel off. If your words ring true to the core of your being and you can share them with tenacity and confidence, they will likely have a completely different impact on your audience.

 

The mood you are in will also affect your tone. Many great authors have experienced writing a section for their book while they were in a certain mood. It might feel good to write it at the time, but when they read it back it sounds off or unaligned with their message or the needs of their audience. So it’s crucial to read back what you have written when you are in a different mood, and be prepared to let it go if it doesn’t align with the overall mission of the book.

Engaging Emotions

Part of tone mastery is your ability to engage emotions. If you are writing a nonfiction book that is designed to inspire change in others, then one of your core focuses is engaging the emotions of your reader. If you write a book that does not touch upon the emotional experience of your reader, however unique your concepts are, it will fall short of igniting a fire within them.

You need to inspire your audience beyond their apathy, fear, or inaction. You can start a fire in their hearts that makes them feel “Yes, this is possible. We can do this together. I can play a meaningful role in the times to come.” Part of your ability to ignite your audience will depend on your ability to engage their higher emotions, such as:

  •     Hope
  •     Inspiration
  •     Compassion
  •     Joy
  •     Peace
  •     Love
  •     Faith
  •     Passion

To be a catalyst for these qualities, you need to be in touch with them in yourself. To convey a vision of hope / faith in a future of greater equality / passion for your cause / inspiration to others to step up and take action, etc., it’s essential to mirror these qualities in your own inner experience so that they are authentically expressed in the tone of your written word.

In igniting these qualities you want to make sure you don’t ignore or gloss over the more difficult emotions your audience is experiencing. If you want to foster inspiration, hope, and faith, you would also want to touch upon:

  • any anger at the injustice your reader may be facing
  • any exhaustion, especially if they have been dealing with the same issues for a long time
  • any fear and disappointment that they may have encountered.
And so on.

You would balance out the vision of what is possible with the reality of the moment. Acknowledging and engaging with the full range of emotions in yourself is part of this. If you only communicate from the higher emotions and don’t acknowledge the weight of the issues that your audience carries in their hearts, your tone may appear too flighty and disconnected from the very challenges you are attempting to address and transform.

SUMMARY

In part one of this article we’ve looked at the difference between your tone in the spoken and written word, setting the right tone for your audience, how your personal tone affects your writing, and engaging different emotions. In the second part of this article series we’ll look at how to use tone effectively to challenge your reader, some of the common pitfalls with tone, and whether to use a formal or informal tone for writing a book.


NEW PROGRAM FOR AUTHORS STARTS JULY 16th 2019

For the past decade, Sasha Allenby has been a ghostwriter for some of the greatest thought-leaders of our time. Her journey started when she co-authored a bestselling book that was published in 15 languages worldwide by industry giants, Hay House. Since then, Sasha has written over 30 books for global change agents. Following the events of the last couple of years, she turned her skill set to crafting social messages. Her latest book Catalyst: Speaking, writing and leading for social evolution supports thought-leaders to craft dynamic messages that contribute to change. 


You are a catalyst or visionary who is crafting an evolutionary message. You want to be part of a community that supports you to make a difference with your spoken and written word. Sign up to receive weekly blogs and updates that enable you to craft your unique message.


Can Every Act of Business be an Act of Love . . . and Still be Effective?

MARK SILVER INTERVIEW

QUICK LINK TO:

 THIS INTERVIEW IS FOR:

Speakers

Writers

Leaders

Who are developing social impact, social entrepreneurial or other heart-based businesses, and want to know how to market themselves authentically.


ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW

WHAT IF EVERY ACT OF BUSINESS COULD BE AN ACT OF LOVE . . . AND STILL BE EFFECTIVE?

This is the question we addressed in a recent interview with Mark Silver from Heart of Business, Inc.
If you are either just starting out, or developing a business, and are having challenges with how to get your message out there in a way that is authentic and heart-based, then this interview is going to provide you with so much value.
We talked about the difference between some of the more traditional forms of marketing, versus how to market from the heart, and addressed some of the more sensitive issues of marketing a social impact or social entrepreneurial business.

 
About Mark Silver, M.Div.

Mark Silver is the founder of Heart of Business, Inc. Since 2001 he’s been a pioneer in integrating spirituality and business, in a way that is effective and nourishing. His team has helped thousands of spiritually-oriented, heart-centered entrepreneurs feel really good while finding plenty of their best clients and making more money.

He’s found that you really can have both: every act of business can be an act of love, and still be effective.

Latest Program:

Doors for the latest program at Heart of Business close on June 24, 2019.

 

https://www.heartofbusiness.com/training-programs/heart-business-basics/


 
About Sasha Allenby

For the past decade, your presenter—Sasha Allenby—has been a ghostwriter for some of the greatest thought-leaders of our time. She co-authored a bestselling book that was published in 15 languages worldwide by industry giants, Hay House. Since then, she has ghostwritten over 30 books and her skills are sought after globally. Her new book, Catalyst: Speaking, Writing and Leading for Social Evolution was a global #1 Bestseller in Social Sciences in Jan 2019. 

New Program for Authors Starts July 16th 2019
Click here to learn more and register

You are a catalyst or visionary who is writing a book or crafting a message that creates change in the world. Sign up for weekly updates at Equality Hive so that we can support you to share your message with the greatest effect.


Are You Ready to Write a Book? Checklist for Social Entrepreneurs

Read time – 5 mins.

As an aspiring author you have a vision to create great impact in the world with the power of your written word. There is something inside you telling you that you’re here on this planet at this time because you are supposed to make a huge difference. And you also know that you’re going to have the greatest impact if you share your message in a book.

Truthfully, we all know that humanity is facing many great challenges on a number of levels at this time. And what we need are leaders, down on the ground, stepping up to answer those challenges with a new perspective and fresh ideas.

 

If you are one of the ones that is feeling that calling—whether you want to tackle some of the social issues that are prevalent in our world today, build something great, create more equality and consciousness, or share an idea that could shift humanity in a different direction—if you are ready to step up and play your part and a book feels like the most powerful way to reach the greatest number of people, the following checklist will ensure that you have all the pieces in place before you begin.

New Program for Authors Starts July 16th 2019
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#1 – ARE YOU READY TO LEAD?

First and foremost, we need to take a look at you as a leader. You may be already out in the world presenting your ideas to an audience or taking your first steps to do so. One of the initial considerations is getting yourself ready to lead. In a fiction book, an author can hide behind the story. You’ll find some of the most reserved and introverted authors who never give interviews about their material, but who have touched their audience through their characters to the point where they can stay hidden behind their creation.

 

You won’t have the same luxury with a non-fiction book, particularly if you are writing one that shares a unique point of view. You’ll need to be prepared to stand by your message, and in these current times, that can also mean being prepared to stand by it in the face of those who oppose it or don’t agree with what you have to say. So developing your conviction as a leader is going to be vital. It won’t just affect any talks or interviews you give about the book; it’s also going to affect the tone of the book so that you can stand by what you say with veracity and the reader feels your confidence in what you are proposing.

#2 – HAVE YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY?

Having ghostwritten over 30 books, as well as having 4 best-selling books of my own (one of which was published in 15 languages), as time went on I began to see a pattern in those that had the most success. Either the author had a unique thing to say or a unique way of saying it. In today’s current market, with so many new authors finding their voice through the written word, you want to ensure that your book falls into one of these two categories, so that your reader sees you as someone who is bringing a fresh perspective and solving some of the challenges that they are facing individually, or we are collectively facing in humanity.

#3 – IS YOUR IDEA GROUNDED IN REALITY?

Often a prospective author will reach out to us with an idea for a book but it won’t be grounded in reality. This means that they had an interesting idea about a message they want to share, but it hadn’t been tested on real life human beings, or tried out in the real world.

 

If you are just starting out with your idea and you feel like a book is the best medium to share it, you need to be prepared to try it out in the real world to give it some depth as part of the process of writing your book.

New Program for Authors Starts July 16th 2019
Click here to learn more and register

#4 – ARE YOU AWARE OF YOUR AUDIENCE AND THEIR NEEDS?

On a similar theme, many thought-leaders launch into writing a book without a single thought for who their reader is going to be. There needs to be a connection between what you want to say and what your reader might need to hear, so that you are writing it for them and not just because you’ve got something burning in your heart that you want to share.

#5 – IS A BOOK THE BEST MEDIUM FOR YOUR MESSAGE?

Most people dream of seeing their name on the cover of a book. But it’s always crucial to ask if it is the most powerful medium for your message at this time. This includes some tough questions around whether you have the skillset to put it together (or the funds to hire someone else to do it for you if you don’t). But it also includes considerations such as whether you have enough quality content for a book or whether what you have to say could be more effectively distilled in a video, a blog series, or another medium.

#6 – ARE YOU READY TO MARKET YOUR MESSAGE?

There was a time in publishing when a quality deal meant that the publisher would take care of many elements of the marketing for you. And while a good publishing deal still might include some input from the publisher in this area, it isn’t guaranteed. In fact these days, particularly if you are sharing a non-fiction message, the publisher is going to be looking at other aspects of how you share that message outside of your book, such as how you show up on social media and what kind of audience you have built. Even if you self-publish your book, you are going to need an audience to share it with (or a number of joint venture partners who are willing to promote the book for you), so if you have zero interest in marketing your message, then putting all your efforts into writing a book will be unlikely to yield the results you are looking for.

SUMMARY

So if you are ready to step into a leadership role (or expand the one you are already in), you have something unique to say or a unique way of saying something that’s already been said, you are aware of a need your audience has and you have an idea that could meet that need, you are sure that a book is the best way to reach your audience, and you are ready to get out there and market your message, you have all the basic pieces in place for starting to write a book that could make a significant impact on humanity.


NEW PROGRAM FOR AUTHORS STARTS JULY 16th 2019

For the past decade, Sasha Allenby has been a ghostwriter for some of the greatest thought-leaders of our time. Her journey started when she co-authored a bestselling book that was published in 12 languages worldwide by industry giants, Hay House. Since then, Sasha has written over 30 books for global change agents. Following the events of the last couple of years, she turned her skill set to crafting social messages. Her latest book Catalyst: Speaking, writing and leading for social evolution supports thought-leaders to craft dynamic messages that contribute to change. 


You are a catalyst or visionary who is crafting an evolutionary message. You want to be part of a community that supports you to make a difference with your spoken and written word. Sign up to receive weekly blogs and updates that enable you to craft your unique message.