March 19, 2007

News & Opinion: You Have 10 Pages To Convince Me

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 6:04 PM – Filed under: Publishing Industry

We tell authors and publishers all the time about the importance of the first 10 pages of a book. For Jack and I, the author has about three pages to catch our attention. If not, we are on to the next book. Leading for Growth is a great example for delivering in those first opening pages.

How often do you read the Table of Contents and see "Chapter 1: Introduction, Chapter 2: How We Started..." Ray Bard made a great point at our author workshop—"The Table of Contents should be written like it was marketing copy." I rarely see this. Here is a sample of what authors Ray Davis and Alan Shrader did in this book:

  1. What Business Are You Really In?
    Umpqua started to take off when we decided we were really in the retail business, not just the banking business, and started learning from successful retailers like Nordstrom. This chapter offers advice to help you discover what business you are really in.

  2. Never-Ending Discipline
    Leaders need to realize that growth is not a project, not a quick fix. You must have the discipline to realize you never have made it.

  3. Have Position Passion
    Be relentless about your vision. Know what you stand for. We call ourselves The World's Greatest Bank. It helps us stand out with our customers, but more than that, it creates positive passion within the company.

You can't underestimate the importance of the introduction either. This is where people are going to find out what the book is about. Someone told me the other day they always skip the introduction. I told them that it was a big mistake, because a reader always knows from the introduction whether the book is going to be good and more importantly whether it is going to work for them. Davis starts the introduction with this:

The simple fact is, you get better or you get worse. You cannot stay the same. There is no Door Number Three.

From this, you know it is about growth and my case I firmly believe what he is says. The great Table of Contents and what Tom Ehrenfeld calls "a great promise" pulled me through the whole book. More tomorrow on the book itself.