The Gist

A look at striking the tricky balance between simple and complex.

Think of non-fiction books as a sort of continuum. On one end, there are books that can’t be easily summarized. They are extremely and overly complex, not lending themselves to quick summaries or elevator pitches by authors. On the other end, there overly simple books that don’t challenge readers at all. These 80-page “books” (or manifestos, really) often come down to a single point repeated ad nasuem.

In all but the most extreme cases, you don’t want to be stuck on either extreme.

If you have something to say, a need to make a meaningful statement, then aim for a meaty book.

Yes, you have to be able to talk succinctly about your book on interviews, in meetings, and to your friends. If you can’t answer the question, “What’s your book about?” in 30 seconds, you need to work on that.

But look at many of the Amazon reviews for these 80-page books. They are often scathing, arousing the ire of people who spent the money and took the time to read the book. You’ll often see comments like, “Save yourself the 15 bucks and just watch the TED video.”

Brass Tacks

Do yourself a favor. If you have something to say, a need to make a meaningful statement, then aim for a meaty book.

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