One of the biggest challenges in writing a book is to figure out how to ensure your book is current and in-step with the times, yet has a long shelf life.
At first glance, this may seem impossible.
“Current” means in the here and now. “Timeless” means everlasting.
So, how do you write a book that’s up-to-date and hip to the now that will feel ageless in years to come?
Here are two tips.
Don’t Date Yourself
When writing a non-fiction book, authors have a tendency to point to their many experiences. This is a great move, as you can draw upon your history to illustrate a point while boosting credibility. But beware of a couple of language traps that can cause your book’s shelf life to dissipate faster than a banana left out in the sun.
The first error I see a lot is using the term “recently.” While it may be true you had a recent experience while writing your book, this will no longer be the case by the time your book is published.
Similarly, another common misstep is to refer to your years of experience in relation to the date that you’re writing about it. For example: “In my 10 years of experience as a fitness expert…” Or “I’ve been working on this for the past decade.”
Again, by the time your book is out, 10 years will have become 11, and 5 years later, you actually will have been working on it for 15 years, then 5 years after that it will be 20 years, etc. But your book will forever say that your experience tracks back for a measly 10 years.
The way you can avoid falling into either trap is simple: use dates to describe time periods.
For example, instead of saying, “I recently read an article…” say, “In an article published in April 2021, I read…”
Or, instead of “For 10 years I’ve been [insert the blank],” say, “Since 2011, I’ve been [insert the blank].”
Just like that, you extend the expiration date of your experiences from a few months to eternity.
Leave Openings for Current Events to Change
Equally as important, when writing about current events in your book, you can’t know how everything is going to play out.
Be aware that whichever event you reference probably will have evolved, changed, and/or reached some sort of conclusion by the time your book hits the shelves.
A big event will continue to morph long after your book is published, so be cognizant of how you share the details.
Frame your reporting in a way that allows room for future changes. Do not say anything too definitive about something that is still an evolving situation. Use language that leaves the door open for multiple outcomes. Otherwise, readers may perceive your book as less credible.
For example, imagine if you wrote in April 2020, “At the peak of the COVID pandemic,” for a book with a pub date in March 2021…well, that would be pretty awkward today, wouldn’t it?
The April 2020 “peak” of the pandemic, we now know, was a mere bump compared to what we experienced this past winter. And even the January 10, 2021 peak may not be the worst of it.
The author who wrote, “During the first peak of the COVID pandemic in April of 2020…” would be way better off, as their account would have left room for various future outcomes.
The Bottom Line:
When writing your book, use language that ensures your book is current, yet remains timeless.
For added tips on how to boost your book’s credibility, check out this post.