The critique of your preliminary draft will be a detailed Analysis and Review Report of approx. 5,000 words. The fee for the report is based upon the length and complexity of the manuscript, usually starting at $2500. The final report includes:
• A broad overall assessment pinpointing strengths and weaknesses related to structure, style, and content.
• A chapter-by-chapter analysis of how effectively your main messages have been transmitted and focused.
• How and where to expand content to improve continuity and pacing.
• Tips on using language to capture your unique voice more effectively.
• Before-and-after examples of rewritten sentences – demonstrating the recommended changes, giving you a head start towards revising and shaping your manuscript into its most polished form for final editing.
Book #1, conceived as a cutting edge business manual that goes beyond standard management principles to exploring the personality traits and psychological habits of anyone in the work place. The premise here is that by understanding these underlying forces, a company can establish better communication and enhance productivity. – Full Review
Book #2, conceived as a handbook to be used during motivational seminar presentations and it draws upon a variety of self-help principles for marshaling inner resources in order to realize any life goal. – View Excerpt
Book #3 is “SO YOU WANT TO WRITE”– a practical, easy-to-follow guide for anyone wanting to write their first book. – View Excerpt
Book #4 is an autobiographical work about a woman’s challenge in releasing a “black spell” that had thwarted her emotional development, allowing her to move forward into a happier, more fulfilled life. – View Excerpt
Book #5 is a leadership guide written by the CEO of a corporation designed to enlighten both new and experienced business owners. – View Excerpt
Glenn Plaskin Manuscript Review
Feedback notes on-
Conceived as a cutting edge business manual that goes beyond standard management principles to exploring the personality traits and psychological habits of anyone in the workplace. The premise here is that by understanding these underlying forces, a company can establish better communication and enhance productivity.
A Manuscript Review and Analysis Of
Engagement is Not Enough!
You Need Passion to Achieve Greatness
I am intrigued by the idea of a cutting edge business book that goes beyond standard management principles to exploring the personality traits and psychological habits of anyone in the work place. The premise here is that by understanding these underlying forces, a company can establish better communication and enhanced productivity.
What makes this approach especially unique is the notion that intelligent corporate leadership must build trust and people skills, maximizing talent and inspiring employees to be truly engaged, self-directed, and passionate about their work.
To accomplish this, I really like the technologies you've chosen--including the DiSC model, the Whole Person Concept, and the still-fresh I'm Okay-You're Okay theory--all of which go a long way in explaining why people do the things they do. I was particularly fascinated by the differences in people who do or do not require control or affiliation in their work environments.
The promise you offer is a tantalizing one: Should a corporate executive master these principles, the result can be sterling business results and enhanced human fulfillment. It does, however, require great sensitivity and self-discipline to carry out your recommendations--and I question whether or not most corporate executives would be willing to retrain themselves and exercise the skill necessary to accomplish this goal, as you describe it.
Nonetheless, it's a provocative and inspiring model. As Tony Robbins often says, you need to be a 'practical psychologist' to maximize your effectiveness as a leader.
The book, overall, is very well-organized and carefully thought out. There does, however, tend to be a repetitive quality content-wise that must to be eliminated in order to streamline the manuscript, which is overly long. A good line editor who approaches the material with a fresh eye could cut out the 'fat' and thus make the book more readable. Throughout my report, I point out material that could be excised.
In many cases, you've offered too much theoretical detail or given too many examples, slackening the momentum of the book. To correct this, you need to do three things: eliminate the repetitions, cut down some of the theory detail, and use more dramatic examples to illustrate your points.
Remember: Illustration rather than explanation is always a more effective teaching tool--and more entertaining for the reader. This is why so many self-help books are packed with real-life stories and interventions.
Beyond the content, the writing style is serviceable--concise, clear, and straightforward--though not particularly elegant or imaginative in its choice of words. There tends to be a sameness to the rhythm of the language which, at times, can be numbing and rather textbook like. At all costs, you want to avoid the tone of an in-house company memo or an academic paper. To make the narrative more dramatic, you need to vary the rhythm of sentences, alternating punchier, shorter sentences with longer, more descriptive ones. This will give the book more energy and forward movement.
You can also employ more humor--funny, entertaining vignettes from your corporate experience that will liven up the otherwise serious tone. Also, as a technique common in teaching books, you can more often employ bold face print to underline your main points.
Most of the time, the sentence structure is grammatically correct, though I've pointed out a variety of awkward or run-on sentences that require repair. I recommend using a line or copy editor to correct such passages. I've re-written various sentences from time to time to give you an idea of how they could be corrected and how I might sharpen the meaning of your intended message.
Overall, the graphics are excellent—well thought-out and clearly designed in illustrating your main points. Particularly effective is the Passion Pyramid and the Whole Person Concept. I've indicated a few places in the text where I would create additional graphics to clarify your points.
The chapter titles (which don't always match your table of contents) are serviceable, though uninspired and pedantic. I really think you want to STUDY the chapter titles of some business or self-help books to spark your imagination in creating titles that are more inventive. For instance, just glance at some of these chapter titles designed for a new self-help book I've worked on:
Armed & Ready: An Emotional Fitness Plan For Life
Chapter 16 Time for A Change - Nature's Guarantee
Chapter 19 The Right Stuff: The Influence Of Your Peer Group
Chapter 20 The Meter's Running: The Moodscape Of Your Life
Chapter 23 Creating a Compelling Future: The Picture Of Your Destiny
Chapter 24 Bringing Your Dreams to Fruition: The Technique Of Emotional Flooding
Chapter 25 The Chokehold on Happiness: STRESS
Chapter 27 Your Global Solution: The Ultimate Safety Net
Chapter 28 Energy Tapping: The Portable Miracle
So in your book, for example, even if you were to add the word HONING to chapter four's People Skills, it would improve it. Even better would be something like: Becoming Your Own Psychologist: Honing People Skills to Excel, or something like that. Or in chapter nine: Instead of just Mentoring (too dry), choose something like: Passing On Your Skills And Support: The Art of Mentoring, or something like that.
In any case, the chapter titles here are dry and flat and need to reflect the energy and creativity you've injected into your text.
As a footnote, the Action Steps included here are not as well-developed as the rest of the text. As I write later in this report, I would recommend NOT including them in the main body of the book, but instead producing a workbook that could accompany this book now or at a later time.
Also: I would rethink the main title as I believe it should be more specific to the true content of the book, which discusses “passion” and “greatness” and “engagement” relatively little. To that end, I'd create as the main title something like Leadership Effectiveness or Becoming The Leader You Want To Be. A title like this has a promise in it whereas the current title one--Engagement Is Not Enough!--is a negative statement, while the meaning of engagement is not immediately clear.
Next, your subtitle--You Need Passion to Achieve Greatness--a declarative sentence, is too long and somehow cliche sounding. Yes, everybody knows passion is an ingredient of greatness--but in the corporate workplace, I think your book is stressing communication more than greatness.
Moreover, the word “greatness” doesn't really speak to your main point, which is the necessity of leadership understanding what makes people tick. I'd replace your current subtitle with something catchier, using the idea that intelligent leadership requires knowing the people who surround you.
The first words presented to your readers are crucially important in capturing their attention and setting the tone of your book. So often, people pick up a book, read a few pages, and close it. Therefore it's vital that you captivate the reader right from the start. Your introduction begins rather matter of factly with a question--which is fine--but it feels almost as if we're entering the book from the middle.
Remember: you're welcoming the reader into your world and you must do it with a great sense of beginning, especially since your book is quite long. Rather than immediately explaining the distinction between engaged/not engaged/actively disengaged, I would BACK INTO the concept by offering a short scenario, a story about three employees, each distinctly different. Describe each one of them and how they operate. Give each one a name. Then, once you've drawn the reader into the story, make your point and draw your conclusion. Otherwise, the text is too dry.
But even more important: Your introduction is supposed to be a welcome mat to the reader, presenting a BROAD perspective of what your book is going to cover. In other words, a Preface or Introduction offers the reader a series of PROMISES. You seem to get specific too quickly, which is one reason why it feels like the reader is entering the book somewhere in the middle. The reader, even the business person, wants to be engaged before we get too deeply into the specifics. [So I would move some of your general material about what the book includes higher up into the Introduction.]
On page 6, when you refer to the high cost of lack of engagement, you will need some STATISTICS about the revenue and time companies lose due to employee malaise. Quoting Gallup is good starting point at the bottom of page 7 but you need more. A Google search would easily produce more raw data.
Throughout your book, when you draw conclusions, it's always most effective to back up your points with specific anecdotal or statistical data. For instance, on page 7, you assert that 100% of what companies pay actively disengaged employees is lost, yet since they're physically present and doing something at their desks, surely they're worth more than zero, no? The worldwide statistics of engaged employees is shockingly low. [I hope, at some point, you're going to describe the psychological dynamics about WHY people are so disengaged at work. Are they bored? Tired? What?]
It's fascinating to read that nearly every employee begins a new job 100 per cent engaged, and six months later, the number drops precipitously. Why is that? You seem to imply on page nine that it's a failure in “leadership.” I'm wondering if the “pink cloud” syndrome of any job fades once the sameness begins to dull the senses. One would wonder if the employee becomes less engaged because they master the job and then become bored by doing the same thing over and over again. Or is it because they're not given incentives to produce and grow more? These are the kinds of questions I'd like to see answered. Also: I'd like you to talk to a PSYCHOLOGIST who can give some nonbusiness-related insight into the psychological underpinnings of employee malaise.
Otherwise, you seem to be placing all the responsibility for what happens on management/leadership--while the relationship between a leader and a team is a PARTNERSHIP. The employees, who are adults, have a responsibility to maintain their own level of energy and enthusiasm.
Your distinctions on page 10-11 about the reasons leadership fails are quite interesting, but not always adequately flushed out. How does a preoccupation with profits alienate the employee? What is right-brained thinking? You skip over all this quickly. The third point is well-made, but there's a puzzling reference on page 12: “Over the past two years, we have surveyed thousands of employees...” Who is WE? This is the first time you've mentioned that word. You need to FRAME your introduction by explaining what you do, who you are, what your company does, what your role is in the company, and what experience you have. I assume WE is your company, but you've never mentioned it. This is crucial and should come earlier.
Note: By this point in the Introduction--just eight pages into it--the text is beginning to drag. Why? It's because the Intro is too long, has too many points in it, and doesn't have the get-up-and-go, let's-get-to-work, here's-what-we're- going-to-learn quality to it. It would need significant trimming and a reworking in TONE, so that it truly offers the promises that any reader requires. Notwithstanding this point, the content of the text is fine.
Finally on page 16, we get to a very interesting point about the NEEDS of the employee, needs that must be met in order to maintain their state of engagement. The title of the first one seems too general. Perhaps you could find a better way to say it, expounding on the idea of respect, being listened to, and having a sense of accomplishment.
Your first CHART is beautifully organized but quite complex with many terms and concepts poured into it. Some of them you've mentioned in the text, but not all. It seems a bit overloaded for an Introduction. When Tony Robbins presents charts sequentially in his workbooks--they always start off rather simply, then add more layers as we progress. In this case, it seems as if you've added too much into the Pyramid too soon. I assume you're going to explain many aspects of the chart as we progress into the book. Nevertheless, I would NOT have a chart in an Introduction. It's too much, too soon.
It isn't until the LAST paragraph that we get any of the flavor one would expect for an Introduction, i.e. saying what this book is going to do. Finally, you write: “This book does just that.” It's this paragraph that really needs expanding in an interesting way. You need to explain what this book is intended to do. Who is it for? Exclusively business leaders? Or would it be useful to people in other professions as well? Define your audience.
In any case, as I said above, it feels as if the Introduction has been over-packed with information, while the actual payoff (the last paragraph) is too truncated, almost tagged on as an afterthought. This paragraph should appear much earlier in the Intro and frame the points you make around it. You might begin something like this:
“What does every business leader need to know? How can he or she not only boost profits and productivity but also manage employees so effectively that they're fully engaged and energized by
In your first chapter, you begin by directly addressing the reader: “What is your real motivation for choosing a leadership role?” I'm wondering if should address the reader so directly right from the start of the book as you don't really continue doing it much after this. Another alternative you might consider is something like this: “What drives a true leader? What really motivates someone to seek power--the position, status, recognition, and admiration of others? What moves anyone to control, manage, and inspire a team? For many leaders....” You see the difference?
pg. 19: Your Give-Get-Cycle chart is very clean and simple with an arrow in and out of the circle, but I'm not sure it really enhances the text. I DO, however, like your question about what a leader has to GIVE in order to GET benefits. The bottom paragraph of page 19, however, begins to wander off the track and doesn't directly follow from the previous paragraph. We want to know what a leader has to GIVE....and the information in this bottom paragraph feels like a rehash of what we already know.
I'd go directly to the first main paragraph on page 20: “Fulfilling your purpose means giving your best. But giving WHAT?? You never really say. It seems that qualities like patience, kindness, seeing the broad picture, tenacity, articulation of ideas, and ability to communicate effectively are traits a leader needs to “give” in order to “get” the result desired. But you don't say this.
Avoid sentences that state the obvious, such as: “And for your team to achieve its purpose...everyone on the team must give their best...” We know this and if you say it--it sounds too much like business training 101.
pg. 20, second main paragraph: The sentence is awkward and not grammatical. It should read: “What kinds of people do you need on your team in order to achieve optimum results?”
As this chapter is titled--Why Do You Want to be a Leader--I'm perplexed, as the reader will be, about WHERE you're going here. This material about building a team has nothing to do with what motivates the leader. By the middle of page 21, you're off and running about the Unity Health Center and how true leadership can create the right environment for igniting passion. And I DO like the line about “no longer light a fire under my staff, I light a fire in them.” This phrase could even be perhaps adapted and used as a subtitle for your book.
But: if this chapter is going to be about management and leadership strategies and creating the optimum environment at work, you need to change the title of it. I say this because I was expecting this chapter to be about the personality/character profile of a leader. Perhaps the chapter should be titled: The Anatomy Of A Leader.
pg. 24: The Whole Person Concept: I like the idea that the actions and personality of a leader define the work atmosphere, that a leader brings his entire person to the job. Your opening sentences of the Whole Person Concept are, however, awkward and unclear. It should read something like: “The actions and behaviors of the leader are the most influential factors in creating a work environment that ignites passion. And it's this atmosphere that will either attract or repel employees, motivating them to become engaged or actively disengaged.”
pg. 25: Most important is this sentence, which you might bold: “So to create the environment you want, you need to have a really good understanding about your behavior--why you do the things you do.” Delete the next sentence about how you're not going to get into in-depth psychological models. Instead, go directly to your Whole Person Concept. The graph for this is quite beautiful. I love the idea that what we see (someone's behavior) is just the tip of the iceberg, that most of the thoughts and feelings, values, belief, and underlying needs--are under the surface of the 'water.' Excellent! [It would be ideal if this graph could be illustrated in color in your book. Concentrating on this Whole Person Concept would lead me, as I said earlier, to renaming this chapter The Anatomy Of A Leader.]
pg. 27: Some of the sentences here are awkward, repetitive, and confusing: “When you think about something, your feelings are there at the same time.....” This doesn't work. Instead: “When you begin thinking about anything, a series of feelings will inevitably arise. These feelings vary depending on the strength of the thoughts. For instance, if you are thinking about a person you love....” What you're getting at here is the basis of all behavioral therapy, i.e. that DOING something changes how we FEEL. You began to jog a few laps, as you describe it in your anecdote, and then you felt like running. Good point!
pg. 29: Awkward sentence: “We need to go down to the next layer to where our values and beliefs are.” You cannot end a sentence with a verb. Instead: “We need to go down to the layer below, one which comprises our values and beliefs.”
pg. 29: The distinction between a belief and a thought is rather awkward here and doesn't need so much explaining Most people will understand, from the graph, that a thoughts can be random, like passing clouds--they're in a constant state of change and movement and many of them are not too important; whereas a belief is an underlying conviction that profoundly influences what we do and how we do it.
pg. 30: I think by the time you reach the top of page 30, the attention of the reader is going to begin wandering. The text is too plodding and your main points overly explained. Just state each layer of the iceberg, explain how each point relates to business leadership, and leave it at that. The example from the 16th-century isn't really necessary. More to the point are your questions at the bottom of page 30: “What are your beliefs about what it takes to achieve outstanding results?” Give a business example instead of the first two paragraphs on the top of page 31--which only state the obvious in general terms.
pg. 31: You end a paragraph with a very tantalizing concept which is just dropped: “...so getting their values aligned with your organization's values is an important aspect of your leadership role.” Yes, but how? This sounds hard to do. The reader will assume it's coming in a later chapter.
pg. 31, Needs: You might want to examine the work that Tony Robbins has done on the 6 primal needs--Certainty, Variety, Significance, Love & Connection, Growth, Contribution.] You don't need this overly-obvious sentence at the top of page 32: “When you have a need that is not satisfied, the way to satisfy it is through your behavior.” You've already illustrated this with your eating example.
pg. 32: Change>“When little children are born....”to something like this: “As infants, we're entirely driven by our biological need for food, warmth, comfort, and love.” The point you make at the bottom of page 32 is a good one, that some people are still behaving like big babies at work, i.e. yelling and screaming without thinking about or managing their emotions.
pg. 33, top: I would Delete: “Now I don't know what you think...” Just state what you think. Also, rather than saying “I don't think that yelling and screaming at people is very appropriate...” Change to: “It has been proven [and give a study or two if you can find one] that yelling and screaming at employees is a grossly ineffective management technique.” Then tell the reader why it doesn't work. Why won't it get people more engaged? This paragraph is unclear when you write: “Usually others [you mean employees being yelled at? Say so.] will do anything to make sure they [who is they? the out of control boss] You have to be CLEAR about who you're talking about. I'm not sure. In the last sentence: “Then when they [who is they?] feel like they're losing control....etc. I think you mean the boss. Clarify this.
pg. 33, Two Sources of Motivation: Delete phrase “foundational model...” It's too overblown. Instead just say: “...because it is a critical concept in understanding the anatomy of leadership.” [Remember: This is not a company memo, but a narrative book that has to be fluent and user-friendly.]
pg. 33, bottom paragraph: Use the word “first” not “firstly.”
pg. 33, bottom: I'm perplexed. Where are we going? You just got done explaining your Whole Person Concept, and now you're trailing back to Needs again: “...the only way you can satisfy your needs is through your own behavior...” I thought we read that already.
pg. 34: second main paragraph. It should begin: “Next, there is the concept of Values Motivation...”
Your chapters are, for the most part, TOO LONG. And Chapter one is definitely too long. One sign of it is REPETITION, which creates BOREDOM for the reader. A perfect example: page 34, bottom paragraph. You write: “It is your behavior that creates the environment your team members operate in.” First, it's already been stated numerous times. What is your NEW point?
Note: After you explain your Whole Person Concept on page 33, I'd end the chapter on a high note with a STORY or EXAMPLE illustrating either great leadership or how someone was able to transform their management style from ineffective to effective. To this end, you might use your “Mary's Act of Leadership” as the ending of the chapter here, though I don't think it's a powerful enough example or detailed enough to stand on its own.
In any case, remember: ILLUSTRATION is always a better teaching tool than EXPLANATION. So to whatever extent you can, try to get a real-life story that would illustrate the Whole Person Concept. If someone were to rewrite this entire chapter, it could be crisply edited and redefined into a solid 20 pages instead of nearly 40. It's simply too long and needs to be compressed. This would be the job of a skilled line editor or ghostwriter.]
pg. 34: “We all have the need for affection from time to time.” Delete time to time. It's been proven that human beings require stroking and affection for mental health.
pg. 35:This Chapter--which is the most important one of the book-- has now wandered off-track by the time you ask: What Is Leadership? Although I thought Chapter One was about what MOTIVATES A LEADER (Why do you want to be a leader?)...it becomes clear that it's really about the WHOLE PERSON CONCEPT. At this point in the game, it seems odd to trail back to defining leadership. This material should appear, if at all, in the INTRODUCTION.
pg. 36: Your narrative in “The Leadership Process” should include WHY you've chosen this particular 'Out-In-Out' form of leadership model over all others. What about it resonated with you so strongly? Could you include some EXAMPLE from your own professional life that would illustrate why you like it so much? Also, don't refer so casually to “Tom Peters' training film...” Who is Tom Peters? You need to introduce any new character in the text with a one or two sentence description. Otherwise, things seems to just come at the reader without any rhyme or reason.
pg. 39: Your distinction between follower and supporter is excellent.
Note: If you're going to have “Action Steps” at the end of each chapter, you're going to have to develop them in more detail. Just asking three questions at the end of Chapter One is not enough. In the magazine articles I've written, we typically have a “sidebar” at the end of an article, which is either in the form of a box of tips and suggestions or a list of questions. I think you will need to go back and devise some EXERCISES for your readers that would allow them to understand and develop the themes you've covered. Or, as I recommended earlier, you could DELETE this material at the end of each chapter and create a LEADERSHIP WORKBOOK to follow the publication of your book. I would choose the latter option.
Perhaps you could begin your chapter: “Accountability is a loaded word. And nowadays, it's used quite a lot. Organizations expect...” You need a better transition from your first paragraph into the story. Something simple like: Let me give you an example....
pg. 43: Your first sentence needs rewriting. It's awkward and not grammatical. It should read: “In your role as a leader, how can you inspire your team members to be accountable, especially when so many of them seem to avoid taking responsibility?” Something like that. In a variety of places throughout the book, such awkward sentences will need rewriting.
pg. 43: As I said earlier, for important lessons you're teaching throughout the book, use BOLD FACE so the text stands out. “People will not be accountable until they choose to be.”
pg. 44: Your distinction between responsibility and accountability is razor thin and I can't see it clearly. The dictionary says: “Responsibility is the act of being accountable, answerable, a duty or trust, ability to meet obligations.”
pg. 44: Who devised “the personal responsibility model?” I DO like your distinction between I have to and I choose to. I also very much like your graphic. It's vivid and easy to read and understand. Excellent.
pg. 47: Top paragraph. Instead of “and in some cases steal things.” Awkward ending for a sentence. Instead: “and in some cases, even resort to theft.” A small change like this can really improve the text.
pg. 48: I was delighted to see an autobiographical story at the bottom of page 48. It's this kind of example (together with cited studies or real life illustrations) that make the text come alive. The story, as you conclude it on page 49, seems to just end with a whimper. What was the lesson you learned as a boy? What did your father do when he got home? We need more information, color, and a good summation before you transition to the next paragraph.
pg. 51: I like your point about leaders wanting self-directed employees, yet they so often utilize an authoritarian leadership approach. But TIGHTEN UP your text. You tend to repeat things. For example, at the bottom of the page: “If you need self-directed people, you cannot....keep behaving in an authoritarian, controlling way.” Yes, you already said that! Another example: page 52, check the end of paragraphs 2 and 3. It's the same point in almost the same language. As this chapter is too long, you have to find ways to compress and make your points more succinctly.
pg. 53: When you mention the name of a book (in this case, Learned Optimism), you have to either underline or italicize it. Also, give us a little more information about Seligman as he's considered the leading authority on optimism in the world.
pg. 54: I LOVED the story of the four-year-old telling his Mom: 'I've got choices!' Bravo.
When you talk about the work environment, there don't seem to be any SPECIFIC examples. You just write in generalities: “When you solve problems and make decisions for others....” What KINDS of problems and DECISIONS? After all, you're probably targeting an audience of business people who would appreciate some specific examples. To accomplish this, you would either have to cite known examples or do some interviews of your own, or at least share experiences from your own business life.
Graphic Five is clearly-drawn and easily understood. Excellent.
pg. 57: At the top of page 57, you talk about security cameras, etc. in a 'we don't trust you environment.' At the top of page 58, you make the same point. Try to blend these points together in one place.
pg. 61: Your story about ear implants is excellent. I like your theme that a fear-based environment is ultimately a drag on employee excellence.
pg. 61: You mention “my research...” What does it consist of?
I would observe that some of your thinking as it is reflected in your graphics is BLACK AND WHITE. You see employees as either X or Y. But you don't seem to mention that people are NOT entirely consistent. Some days, the self-directed person is NOT going to behave that way, while the other-directed person might surprise you. I would include an example of this.
pg. 62: By the top of this page, it seems like you're out of new information, so you're repeating what we already know through your narrative and the graphic. When you write: “In an authority-driven environment no one wants to be responsible,” we already know that. [To avoid this kind of repetition, you might consider making a “chapter map” that visually illustrates how you're leading from one point to another. Make sure the points progress forward but don't keep circling back to the same point.]
By this time in the chapter, one longs for a LIST OF SPECIFIC ACTIONS management/leadership can take to encourage employees to become self-directed. It would also be good to have a list from the perspective of the employee.
pg. 63: At the bottom of this page, you're talking to the employee: “You may be thinking....” NOT the leader. Up until this point, it seemed as if most of your remarks were directed toward a reader who is the leader. I assume you want to address both?
pg. 65: In your anecdote here, what is the AAA Club of South Jersey? I have no idea. Is it an auto club? You need to explain what the company does and HOW Carol changed her behavior. There is no quote from her that explains how this turnaround happened.
You end this chapter with advice: “Focus on what you need to do with your team...” What DOES that person need to do? We don't know.
I'm delighted to see that you're beginning a chapter in story mode with a specific example that illustrates your point. The value of doing this is that you FIRST engage the reader with a story, and then your own voice comes in at the end with the LESSON learned. This is something you could employ more throughout the book. I'm also glad to see that this chapter is more compact, shorter, than the previous ones.
pg. 68: explain more about what the company makes. What kind of components?
pg. 69: “Trust is a feeling.” Excellent. A short sentence that will interest the reader. I'm not sure I like the distinction between building trust and being trustworthy. Please explain to the reader more about Dr. Ralph Colby. Who is he? When was the book published? I like the four element and the graphic is fine.
pg. 73: What is Integro? We know it's your company, but give us some interesting information in a sentence or two about it.
In teaching the leader to establish congruence, openness, etc. you could acknowledge that there are LIMITS to this, times when an executive cannot be open or entirely congruent. Is that true? If so, say so.
pg. 75: If you negate constructive criticism--do you accept helpful feedback? There has to be some way to evaluate an employee's work critically--not in the insulting use of the word. What would you suggest?
It would be helpful for the leader to have a TRAINING FORUM of some kind, a boot camp for LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS. The leader needs to get feedback on his or her communication skills. How can this happen?
pg. 79: Here, you effectively summarize why people have difficult with the various components of trust. Excellent.
pg. 81: Excellent scenario presented about Bill. What is especially good is your reference back to the iceberg model on page 82, demonstrating how you build trust with the tip of the iceberg, etc.
At the bottom of page 82, you again refer to employees becoming more “passionate.” At some point before this, you need to DEFINE what you mean by passion, i.e. employees demonstrating more energy, more enterprise, etc.
pg. 83: Your story about the over-controlling boss on pages 83-4 is quite good. What you might say is that, so often, it takes almost an INTERVENTION to correct the behavior of an authority-driven leader.
The Action Steps at the conclusion of Chapter Three are the most effective ones provided up to this point in the book. Likewise, the length of this chapter and overall tone of it is best. It starts with a story, has cohesive content, and is quite well-organized.
Chapter Four: People Skills
I like that this chapter is, again, a reasonable length, and that you're beginning it with a personal story. When you do this, always be as specific as possible about the DETAILS in the story, which make it colorful. You write: After finishing school.... (high school? college?) The sentence should read: “My first job after finishing high school [college]was working for a large insurance company in Brisbane, etc.”
pg. 86: delete the phrase “with a calculator.” Not needed.
Note: You write on page 87 that BUILDING TRUST is just one of FOUR people skills needed to be an effective leader. You should PRE-FRAME this point at the beginning of Chapter Three so the reader has a sense of where they're going. On page 87, you write: now let's focus on the other three people skills. NAME THEM HERE, again, so you set up an expectation.
pg. 87, last paragraph: “But it didn't come.....” is a confusing statement. You mean he didn't yell at you, right? So write: “But none of that happened. Alan didn't yell at me and neither did he fire me! Instead, as a master of people skills, he calmly pulled out the worksheets...” And I like your distinction between blame assigner and problem solver.
pg. 89: When you explain the downside of “assigning blame,” mention that it creates an atmosphere of shame and recrimination which is the antithesis of trust.
pg. 90: Note: The phrase “Facilitating Change” does not sound like a people skill. One typically thinks of good listening ability, negotiation expertise, friendliness, sense of humor as people skills. “Facilitating Change” does not fit. I think what may work as a substitute for this are words like DIPLOMACY, NEGOTIATION, etc. I guess being a diplomat IS a people skill and it's a primary technique in any negotiation.
Note: It's unclear what the next people skill is meant to be. Is it Satisfying Needs? If so, that phrase, again, is awkward. Also, be more specific about WHICH needs you're talking about.
I DO like your reference to FUN. I think that this concept is crucial to productivity and employee satisfaction. Working IS fun when the atmosphere is right and you're interested in pleasing your boss and doing a great job.
pg. 93: I'd prefer using “external/internal” vs. “extrinsic/intrinsic” but it's up to you.
pg. 95: You write: You need all four people skills to build trust. I thought building trust WAS one of the people skills. I know you mean to recap here, but it must be done in a more fluent, cohesive way. Mention all four of those people skills again: Building Trust, Solving Problems, Facilitating Change, Satisfying Needs. Notice I've made each verb ACTIVE, and I'd change your chart to reflect this.
pg. 96: You make the main point about behavior: “What counts is what you do, not what you say you're going to do,” but behavior is about a LOT more than people making a definite appointment for a meeting and sticking to it. It's about how someone RELATES to those around them--their level of friendliness and cooperation. It's about how that person APPEARS --are they well-groomed, neat, and pleasant or disheveled, etc. Is their FACIAL EXPRESSION something that invites conversation? How do they behave in social or group situations with other employees? All this is part of behavior and ultimately quite revealing. I'd therefore expand your view of it here. It's too narrow.
pg. 98: The top paragraph is nearly word for word identical to the passage on pages 27-28 where you mention the idea of not wanting to get out of bed but doing it anyway. Since this is a point you've already made, don't repeat it here.
pg. 98: Bottom paragraph is awkward. It should read: “Tying this point back to improving people skills....”
pg. 99: I like your story about the Air Force here but you don't adequately CONCLUDE what you learned and how it relates to your main point about values and beliefs. Tell us the lesson you learned, ok?
pg. 100: first main paragraph: “You are working much deeper down inside of people...” is an awkward sentence that is NOT grammatical. It should read: “Understanding the complexity of someone's values and beliefs is a daunting mission, much more challenging than merely observing their behaviors or understanding their concrete thoughts.” Or something like that.
pg. 100: Bottom paragraph. Awkward phrasing in first sentence. “Perhaps, when buying an automobile, you've had an experience similar to this one: [place a time to the story] A few years ago, when I was living in Sydney, I walked into a Mazda dealership to browse for a new car for my wife.”
Note: Chapters need to have endings that both bring the subject matter to a definitive close and raise the expectation for what is to follow. Your chapter endings tend to just fall off and end somewhat abruptly. This would need to be corrected. One way to end a chapter is to summarize the main points of it; or you can end with a story that would be inspiring or illustrative of your main point.
Chapter Five: What Makes You Tick?
It feels like there's a question missing in your opening. It's too short. You might try something like: 'How well do you really know yourself? How accurately do you perceive how you come across to others? (or something like that.) Then: In fact, have you ever had someone...” etc.
I really like the story about having a bad temper as a boy. It's really effective in demonstrating the dawning of your self-awareness. You need to make smoother transitions between the stories and the text. Why not add a few more sentences to your story about how, as an adult, you've been able to curb your temper, etc. Then segue way into your next paragraph: When someone gives you critical feedback that you disagree with, what do you do? What's your first knee-jerk reaction? Hopefully, you don't behave as I did as a ten-year-old.....Something like that.
pg. 104: You state that we're more aware of our thoughts and feelings than our behaviors. Mmmm. I'm not so sure I'd generalize the point. I'm VERY aware of my behaviors and I think many people are. Perhaps what you mean to say is that we need to step away from ourselves and get perspective on how our behaviors may be effecting others around us. And I DO like your example about golfing and filming yourself to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Excellent.
pg. 105: When you ask these questions: “How aware are you of the degree....” etc. you should raise some specific EXAMPLES that people can identify with.
pg. 106: The point you make right at the top of the page has already been made in an earlier chapter. So, when you recap things, use phrases like: As we've seen...
pg. 106: The bottom paragraph, which describes a manager oblivious to his destructive behavior, is excellent. Very vivid and true.
pg. 107-109: All this material is excellent and needs little change except for copy editing.
But by the time you recycle your main point on page 110, we already get the idea. Why ask the question if emotional intelligence matters AGAIN? You've proven that it does. Delete this material and proceed directly to the bottom paragraph.
Your metaphor using the glass of water is good, but one sentence confuses me. When a photo is taken a second later, the glass is emptier, not fuller, right? I really like the material you present on page 111. Excellent. It almost cries out for a STORY to illustrate someone's regret over something they did in the past--and how they do it better NOW. If you can find one, that would be quite effective.
pg. 112, second paragraph: By the time you get around to defining self-awareness here, it seems like overkill. You've already told us enough about it. We get the idea, so it seems repetitive and overly long. I think what you're saying is that being EMOTIONALLY REACTIVE is a poor leadership technique. I would add that when anyone is emotionally upset--it's the WRONG time to take any action at all. Do not speak to the object of your anger or do anything until you've cooled your jets. This is when the emotion is ANGER. When it's pleasure, I agree that acting out of emotion is fine in complimenting someone's performance.
pg. 113: You fail to demonstrate how being self-directed increases awareness; you only give the example of being other-directed. I'd add more here.
pg. 114, third paragraph: This paragraph is confusing and perhaps easily cut.
pg. 114, bottom paragraph: Again, this is repetitive. Earlier, you've already asked this question about wondering why people do the things they do. It feels to me like the chapter could end about now, but it goes on for another 8 pages, so it will need streamlining.
Your distinctions about affiliation and the need to control are very interesting and well-written. As these concepts are borrowed from other sources, however, make sure you credit them properly. Likewise, the graph with your DiSC Behavioral Model is excellent, but again, this is a well-known model that has been written about at length, so you need to give more history about it. You recommend on page 119 that “it makes sense for you to take a DiSC profile.” Ok. I would INCLUDE the test in your book if possible rather than telling the reader to send away for it, but copyright law may prevent that.
pg. 120: I LOVE it when you say that “Passion is below the waterline.” If that's true, and you can't visibly observe it, how can the leader actually access and incite it in an employee? Tell the reader what they're about to learn that in the next chapter.
pg. 120, bottom: I'm not quite sure how “being different is not wrong” logically follows in this discussion of your DiSC model. We seem to be dragging this chapter on for a very time. What you're really talking about now is different behavioral styles, but it's a lot for the reader to digest all at once. I think you should save this material for the following chapter. This chapter is already packed with excellent content.
Chapter Six: Using DiSC to Ignite Passion
I'd start this chapter with her name: Diane, a HR...etc. The sentence is a bit long and I'd divide it into two. Also, try to make the story more personal. Did you interview her? What kind of company was it? The more details that are given, the more warmth will be conveyed, which draws the reader in. Also, on line 7 of the opening paragraph, change “called Marie” to “named Marie.”
pg. 123, second paragraph: Notice that you start the first two sentences with the word “so.” Your copy editor should notice these kinds of things and eliminate the repetition. Likewise, later in the paragraph you use the word “confused” twice in a row. Once you get into the habit of checking for such repetitions, you'll get better at eliminating them.
pg. 124, second paragraph: “Then here Diana....” This sentence doesn't make sense. You seem to be transitioning from narrating the story to abruptly switching back to relating what happened to a different audience. It's confusing. Were you also participating in this seminar or were you relating the story afterward? In any case, you might just start this new paragraph like this. “In retrospect, Diana realized her mistake. Using the Interpersonal Theory Chart as a guide, she understood that Maria ranked very high on the Conscientiousness.....” etc. “that she had totally invaded her space at lunch that day by asking so many personal questions.”
pg. 124, DiSC in Depth: Your chapter title announces to the reader that they're going to learn how using DiSC will increase Passion. Yet on this page, you write: “We are going to explore ten factors to better understand....” You need to make the CONNECTION here, as a pre-frame, of HOW understanding those ten factors will enhance Passion. This constitutes big-picture thinking for the reader, allowing perspective and giving them a sense of momentum.
124-5: Excellent. No comments.
126, bottom paragraph: It should read: “It is your behavior that creates the environment in which your team works.”
pg. 127: You make an interesting point: “Creating a work environment which meets the needs of all styles can be quite a challenge.” Obviously, it's impossible. I'd be interested in knowing how large companies accommodate such differing personalities. It seems as if COMPROMISE on all front would be necessary. When I worked in a newsroom with 100 other people talking and moving around, it drove me crazy because I was used to a quiet, formal environment. I had to get used to working with distractions in the background and I did.
pg. 127, bottom, the Security section: The second sentence makes no sense following the first sentence. I'd change it to: “Do you think it's possible to be passionate about something and insecure about it at the same time? That would, in my experience, be unlikely, if not impossible.”
pg. 128: third line, put a period after the word insecure. Then start: “Yet, for some strange reason, many managers set out to make people feel insecure.” These kinds of corrections--putting in commas, dividing sentences into two--can easily be accomplished by your line editor.
pg. 128: I'd delete that “burned at the stake” reference. Instead, explain why inciting fear in employees doesn't work. Refer to a study on the subject. Or give us an example.
pg. 129: Outstanding Need--This is an awkward phrase and the sentence doesn't add up. Perhaps you mean: Understanding Someone's Preeminent Need.
pg. 131: You make a reference in the second paragraph to “factors to build and sustain passion,” but I don't understand the connection between these different personality styles, as described, and passion. I assume you mean that when each of these personalities are acknowledged and treated with respect, they will flourish at work. Is that it? Please explain.
pg. 131: “Measures Progress by--how each style knows they're doing well” This is very awkward. Perhaps instead: Measurement of Progress--Knowing When You're Doing Well.
pg. 132: second paragraph. the word “preferable” should be changed to “preferably.”
pg. 133: Bottom: You write that “feedback is critical.” I'd use this sentence and expand it at the BEGINNING of this section at the bottom of page 131. This is a fascinating topic, that leaders/managers/executives need to understand the PERSONALITIES and NEEDS of their employees, and then based on that knowledge, provide FEEDBACK appropriately. This is VERY difficult to do--and I doubt that many managers will adjust their style to fit each employee. It's an intriguing topic and well-explained.
pg. 134: Major Fears: You might change this to “Principal Fears: What does each personality style fear most?” In this FEARS section, you do something you do NOT do anywhere else in the list of ten, which is to divert on a tangent with an EXAMPLE. Now, I like examples, but we're in the middle of listing all ten points--so adding an extended example here interrupts the flow. This example goes on for 2 1/4 pages.
pg. 139: Irritated by--What you find most annoying.
This is the first time you've used the word “you.” You have to be CONSISTENT in your titling for each point. It should read: “What each personality type finds most annoying.”
I love this line, which I've altered slightly: “What this means is that you irritate others around you just by being yourself!” Excellent point, which means it's inevitable there will be conflict. The question becomes--how to get along with others and resolve it?
pg. 140: Excellent points here about irritability--that it sabotages your dream and controls you. [Question: All this material about DiSC personality types is quite good but has it already been presented in another book? As I said earlier, please be sure to credit whatever information you've borrowed or adapted from elsewhere. In a quick Google search, it appears that a huge amount has been written about this model, but you provide no history of it in your book. You need to give the reader a little background perspective on it.]
Glenn Plaskin Manuscript Review
Excerpt from feedback notes on;
Conceived as a handbook to be used during
motivational seminar presentations and it draws upon a variety of self-help
principles for marshaling inner resources in order to realize any life goal.
I like the idea of a crisp, snappy handbook or field guide that offers down-to-earth, practical promises for change and that can be utilized as a quick reference source for your seminars.
There's always a need for such material, for so many people sink into familiar patterns that don't serve them; yet they remain stuck in order to maintain their comfort zone. Yours is a guide that offers a method to reinvigorate and energize. It will no doubt be useful during seminars where participants can use it as their workbook with lots of space for written exercises and notes, allowing them to become interactive with it as you present your material.
Based on the material in your transcript and in the completed chapters, I would keep your book limited to handbook size, rather than a full-length self-help volume. The later would involve many months, perhaps even a year of work, with extensive fleshing out. Research and the addition of anecdotes and stories. But even as a shorter volume, what you've produced to date is really just an OUTLINE of a book with great ideas and the beginning of great content, as most of the chapters still need a considerable amount of fleshing out.
Some of the content seems derivative or reminiscent of Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, and others like them. Following is a variety of suggestions that would give your book a unique voice.
Preface: In its current form, the Preface is too short and abrupt and needs to include at least one or two examples of the way so many people get ÒstuckÓ in life–into familiar, safe patterns that don't serve them. There should be some reference, perhaps, to the forces that STOP most of us from effecting change–procrastination, fear, and the illusion that we're victims rather than volunteers.
I like the idea of chunking your work thematically into an 8-step program. The idea that each of us has staked out the ÒterritoryÓ of our lives and planted land mines and booby traps is quite vivid. I'd flesh this out more and explain what you mean. How can we, for example, MARSHALL our forces, expand our territorial range, and bypass those familiar booby traps (negative self-talk, fear, pessimism) to prevail? I so heartily believe that the Òone tiny shiftÓ you mention can impact the world. The use of language here, however, could be improved. For instance, that one tiny action, you could say, has Òa rippling effect,Ó or Òa domino effect,Ó demonstrating that every action has a consequence. Also, this guidebook assumes that people want CHANGE, that they're not currently fulfilled in their life. I would flesh this point out more. They will be encouraged to read that opportunity doesn't knock once...that it's always knocking.
I would avoid general phrases like: Òa fresh approach to clarifying things in your life...Ó ÒThingsÓ is too vague. And rather than ÒWe've figured out how to handle things.Ó Better: ÒWe've strategized techniques for facing any challenge–and so can you!Ó
Chapter Two has a MUCH STRONGER opening than Chapter One, but again it's way too short and doesn't really flesh out the excellent themes. You really nail the idea of how life begins with infinite possibilities. I'd expand the lovely notion that a child is emotionally open to adventure and variety–whereas as adults we become stuck in routine, our playing zone or field of engagement getting Òsmaller and smaller,Ó the comfort zone immense. The writing here is quite good. You give two great examples delineating what feels safe and what feels dangerous, depending on our Òpersonalities and value structures.Ó I'd give at least three more examples, taking in more people. I'm not sure how long you want your book to be–but many of the good points you raise would need more expansion to be really effectively made.
For example, if you're going to mention FEAR, you need to say a little more about it. Also, there has to be some understanding of WHY this happens...and how it can be corrected. As you know, Tony has a 5-step Òtransformation of changeÓ process that requires one reaching a level of ÒsatiationÓ with the old way of doing things. Is this applicable here?
I like the idea that one goal of the book is RECLAIMING that infinite territory left behind in childhood. How do we do it? What prevents us? I'd give a whole list of BOOBY TRAPS we invent to keep us back. You talk about Òreconstructing your field.Ó This is actually a very profound concept, the idea that we've decided how wide our territory will be. I think this needs more expansion. What kind of land mines are you talking about? What can we do to defuse them? Perhaps these questions will be answered in later chapters.
I LOVE the analogy of the Invisible Fence for Dogs! It's a fantastic visual. Your point that we all have our internal electronic shock systems really rings true. We keep ourselves hidden behind those fences–largely out of fear, rarely out of ignorance. Pushing through this fence to freedom sounds quite liberating!! Excellent point.
I like the theme: Experience Your Emotions and Act on Your Commitments. When you discuss the elusive quality of emotions, I'd add that FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS, that so often we are too REACTIVE, allowing momentary moods and emotions to affect our strategic decision making. If I were writing this book, I would add passages like this: You might feel worthless, but it doesn't mean that you are. You might feel like killing somebody, but it doesn't mean you should. You might feel that it's hopeless, but it doesn't mean it is! Feelings are subjective, variable, most often temporary, and like clouds, they will pass by if you're patient enough. Don't let them distract you from your mission.
Remember: Illustration rather than explanation is always a better teaching tool. That's why the best self-help books use so many stories and clinical examples. You have very few stories but lots of rules, lists, and exercises– but they should be balanced with good examples.
Glenn Plaskin Manuscript Review
Excerpt from feedback notes on;
So You Want To Write–a practical, easy-to-follow guide for anyone wanting to write their first book.
From liftoff, your book is propelled by your natural ebullience and enthusiasm. Very quickly it conveys its message with a user-friendly, step-by-step approach. This congenial style will be instantly appealing to anyone wanting to write a book.
The title itself, in a metaphorical sense, is openhanded, welcoming, and conversational, which sets the perfect tone. Although many readers may have previously viewed writing a book as a daunting task (and will have procrastinated about getting started), you make it seem possible and doable, which allows the writer to feel empowered.
I would draw a line, however, between upbeat and effusive. In the first paragraph, for instance, I find phrases like 'great learning experience,' and 'exciting adventure' to be a bit formulaic and too predicable. Instead: 'Having worked on dozens of books, newsletters, and magazine articles, I can tell you that writing is one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done. Yes, it can be difficult at times, but I promise [make a promise] that when you finally see your thoughts expressed on the page, your sense of accomplishment and satisfaction will be unmatched [or complete].
Also, I'd tone down the hyperbole at the bottom of page 8 where you use words and phrases like: 'honor and pleasure,' 'amazing,' 'extraordinary.' For me, it's a little bit gushing. You might write: 'For the last ten years, I've had the honor of working alongside many of the nation's leading motivational thinkers, self-help practitioners, and self-made businessmen. And now I'm going to share with you all the strategies and techniques I've learned from the very best of the best!' Something like that would be meatier.
I like the idea that ANYONE can write a book, for I believe that EVERYONE has a story to tell. Nobody has a boring life if they take the time to honestly describe it. Most of the time, your language is simple and easy to read and it seems to get better as the book progresses; but throughout the manuscript, there are a variety of sentences that need correction or repair.
For instance, the sentence on page 13: 'This book that you desire to write, is it going to be a fun hobby, something that you are going to do in your spare time?' Repaired: 'Is this book just going to be a fun hobby and diversion, merely something you'll turn to in your spare time? Or is it going to be a major creative force pulling you forward to it?'
Or, on page 7: 'How long have you been thinking about writing a book but didn't know how to get started?' Instead: 'How long have you been thinking about writing a book? Maybe it's been months or even years simply because you didn't know how to get started.'
Also awkward on page 7: 'Did not knowing how to organize your material...etc.' It should read: 'Did your not knowing....'
Beyond the sentences, sometimes the reader feels a bit overloaded by the initial introduction of material. For instance, on page 8, it's confusing when you offer the reader three strategies, three steps and two concepts all within the space of a few lines. My reaction was: Huh?
So when you present new material, avoid making more than one major point in such rapid succession. For example, on page 8, the sentence is both confusing and a bit awkward in its phrasing: 'You are going to learn about three simple steps [to follow] and two concepts [to learn] that I found making [make] writing a book easy and fun.'
[By the way, to have all your sentences fine-tuned in this way, you might consider having someone line-edit the book. Before publication, it's essential that the sentences be grammatically correct.]
Now the sentence above is streamlined, but still overloaded. I personally like the three strategies, while the three steps don't really seem effective here; and the two concepts about state and rituals are excellent but perhaps introduced too soon.
Also, I would reverse the order. I'd tell the reader that in order to begin the process of writing, they're first going be coached on how to PREPARE in a variety of ways, which include putting themselves into 'state' and establishing 'rituals' to support it. THEN, I'd tell them they're ready for the next phase–speed writing, topic questions, storyboard–and I'd briefly define each one. In any case, in my mind, the section on page 8 needs to be more cohesive without so many strategies, steps and concepts introduced all at once.
I love the concept of finding 'your creative zone,' and I think you could describe it in a bit more detail. [Try to avoid or judiciously use the word 'amazing.']That 'special place' you refer to is a magical place for sure, when someone is totally 'into' what they're doing–like a fine meal, passionate sex, or a fantastic movie. In this heightened, creative state, you're totally concentrated and focused on it and your energy is pulsing through you. This is 'the zone' when all creativity flourishes.
When you mention Your Space, I'd talk a bit more about the chair, the desk, the writer's materials–paper, pens, colors, tabs–temperature control, ventilation and fresh air, the importance of having the space clean and fresh, flowers, candles, pillows, little mementos that inspire you, wall hangings. Also stress that this space must be separate from eating or watching TV. Talk about the lighting and the overall ambiance of the room.When you tell the reader 'Let's talk about this, so you know exactly what I mean,' you have to be very specific in your description, giving them lots of detail.
Your mastery of organizational phrases–Power Tools, Power Script, Inner Game, Creative Zone–is evocative and energizing. Just remember that the PACING as you introduce each one of these concepts has to be measured enough for the reader to absorb them–otherwise, they pass by too quickly.
On page 8, the sentence that you're emphasizing with italics is not grammatically correct: 'Whatever identity we take on, our subconscious guides us to fulfill that identity.' Your point is excellent but it's awkwardly written. Instead:'The identity we assume and reinforce within ourselves will always become a reality. In other words, if you tell yourself you're an incisive, inspired writer propelled by the power to help others and communicate your message–so it shall be.'
Glenn Plaskin Manuscript Review
Excerpt from feedback notes on;
An autobiographical work about a woman's challenge in releasing a 'black spell' that had thwarted her emotional development, allowing her to move forward into a happier, more fulfilled life.
Clearly, from the first sentence, the reader senses that they're off on an exotic adventure with a favorite friend. I see this story as a woman's journey from despair, confusion, and disillusionment to self-acceptance, understanding, and love. And even for people not especially receptive to or interested in black magic, bone throwing, or the Sangoma, the moving tale of your journey works very well as a metaphor for self-discovery. The challenge here is healing one's sadness and spiritual emptiness by asking for help, searching for it, and turning to a higher force, whatever its name.
Every book, however, needs a true beginning and this one is rather diffused and abrupt, offering too much information too quickly. For instance, you mention upfront that 'black magic had been placed on me,' without explaining how and why you believe that to be the case. I'd explain it later. Instead, I'd start, with an exposition that would prepare the reader for what is to come, perhaps beginning with an overarching statement like: 'In nearly everyone's life, there are times when your world is literally and figuratively falling apart or turned inside out. Everything seems to be wrong–and there's no easy way out. It was like that for me for decades, for I carried inside me a dull, dark feeling that nothing could shake. Not yoga. Not therapy. Not romance. Not drugs. Nothing at all. And I eventually discovered the reason why. When I did, I embarked on the adventure of my life in order to transform it.' Those are just my words, but something like that would grab the reader without giving away too much of the story too soon.
Overall, your text reads as a DIARY, and it would, if structured correctly, work as one and give it a unique flavor. However, if you want it to be a suspenseful nonfiction book, it has to be judiciously edited so that you don't get bogged down in too much detail or storytelling or venting of extraneous emotions.
One major challenge with this manuscript is the improper use of language. It seems as if the manuscript was very quickly written in a stream of consciousness style, for a great number of the sentences are awkward or incomplete or confusing. In order to see BONES published, nearly every sentence would need to be rewritten.
For example: 'Nothing like magic, or the work of a witch doctor ever occurred to me, but once told, years of carrying a dull, dark feeling that I could not shake no matter what I did, began to unravel my past in my mind in broad strokes.' Instead, it should read something like this: 'The idea of consulting a witch doctor had never occurred to me, much less putting my faith in magic! But after years of carrying inside me a dull, dark feeling, I was desperate for a cure and willing to try anything.'
Another example: 'I wanted to live with elegance and grace, but I had no patience for scholarship [what does one have to do with another?] and I didn't want to be poor economically speaking.' Instead: 'At this time in my life, I desperately wanted to find my own special niche–to be very good at something! But I wasn't sure what it was. From a lifestyle point of view, I also knew that I wanted to live with elegance and grace. But how?' Something like that.
Another example of a bruised sentence: 'There is nothing I know of except the current scientific knowledge that at some point, all of humanity connect through lineage in common ancestry that began in Africa.' Instead: 'According to scientists, the lineage of every human being can be traced through a common source....etc. '
The best advice I can give any writer is to READ OUT LOUD the sentences they compose, for the ear always detects mistakes in syntax much more efficiently than the eye. Therefore, the quickest 'fix' for this manuscript is an oral reading that would immediately delineate the quickest route to sentence repair. I suggest you do this. And the best way to do it is to have someone else read it to you.
Main Body Review:
By hearing your manuscript read aloud, sentences like these will throw up red flags: 'I didn't believe in showing my feelings and so it struck me to take a high road to being free of things that troubled me, I joined this group.' Instead: 'At that time in my life, it was difficult for me to reveal, much less confront, my deepest feelings about a variety of things; and so, in an attempt to free myself from anything that troubled me, I joined this group.'
I do like the humorous touches about our culture's stereotypical view of a WITCH DOCTOR, something we've seen portrayed in the movies and in comic books. I also like your hilarious story about a Medouin who tried to buy you with necklaces and a goat! Your insertion of biographical material needs to be tighter and more compact, however; otherwise, it slows the story down. And don't give too many specifics. 'I also went to a huge screenwriting weekend [delete the word HUGE, instead use intensive]...'It was less about screenwriting and a whole lot about David McKee...' This somehow seems irrelevant.
By page 3 of the manuscript, the attention of the reader is wandering because you're going into too much detail about people like Joseph Campbell and Gurdgieff. Again, this begins to sound like a stream of consciousness tirade instead of a tightly-told story about an adventure to Africa. If you want to mention some of the background influences that eventually propelled you on your mission, you need to do it in a more compact, efficient way. It seems to me that your goal here is to demonstrate that you had an enormously difficult and painful time finding both a professional and personal 'niche' and that you had tried many different ways of healing yourself. You make it clear that you were bubbling with 'a dark throbbing inner energy,' but didn't know quite where or how to direct it. You describe in vivid terms the strangely unhappy feeling that was a symptom of the black magic spell. 'It was a dark nervous pulsing shadow that lived inside me.' I like when you say that this image was actually sleeping inside you. Tell us more about it.
It's heart-rending to hear how valiantly you searched for some relief from this spell vis ˆ vis yoga and romantic attachments and through a variety of other vehicles. I think people will identify with this journey and be touched by it. 'I really became a hermit....' One can sense your loneliness and intense need to be self-protective. However, the digression of describing your investment in a film bogs the manuscript down–and I would delete it entirely. Your main point is already made, that nothing was flowing in your life.
Glenn Plaskin Manuscript Review
from feedback notes on;
A leadership guide written by the CEO of a corporation designed
to enlighten both new and experienced business owners.
I like the idea of a concise workbook that offers
a solid promise–a one-page strategic plan for ‘wiser decision-making’ in
our lives and careers. The reader will be intrigued at the prospect of
designing a life that works, i.e. crafting a blueprint or plan that will yield
reliable results rather than being subject to the whims of fate, luck, or
In truth, the direction of every life
is determined by a blend of emotional temperament, background, experience, and
a variety of factors outside our control–combined with
self-discipline and choice. However, the concept of self-determination is the
major hook here and it’s the basis of nearly every self-help book on the
market. Why? Because it offers the reader strong hope that they can prevail and
succeed in life. So I like it.
The most effective subtitle choice
would be: A book for S.M.A.R.T. people who have decided that it’s time….[I’d include a description of the S.M.A.R.T.
acronym on the back jacket cover.] Remember: It’s been proven that when someone
browses through a bookstore, the back jacket flap copy is the force that
motivates a purchase. So it’s worth hiring a professional copywriter or author
to compose this back jacket material. You’ll also want to hire a professional
graphic designer to create your front jacket. What you have now, I assume, is just
a mockup, for it doesn’t effectively illustrate your theme.
In this report, we’ll assess two principal
components–your CONTENT and your LANGUAGE. In other words, how logical
and persuasive is your message and how effectively is it being transmitted to
For starters, just judging the front flap copy as
presented, the language structure is a major challenge here, as most of the
sentences need repair to be grammatically correct. For example, this isn’t a
sentence: ‘A process to clarify how to move to where you want to be
from where you are today.’ It should read:
‘This is a process that will reveal how to move from where you are to where you
want to be.’ A little later on you say: ‘It is strategic business
planning principles applied to align your life and career, pure and simple.
This process is proven.‘ The promise is too
vague and isn’t persuasive. Proven by whom? As for the sentence, it should read
more like this: ‘The techniques you’re about to learn are business planning
principles that you can easily apply to your life and to your career.’ –
or something like that.[Before you could consider the idea of self-publishing
this book, you would need to have the entire manuscript line-edited. In
addition, as you’ll see, I’m suggest a variety of other stylistic
improvements.] By the way, copy on page 4 is much more persuasive and
better written. ‘It is written for successful people who want to sharpen their
focus, strengthen relationships and simplify life….SMART people.’ This is a
good sentence. To make the job of fixing sentences easier for you, I always
suggest: READ YOUR TEXT OUT LOUD–because the ear always
detects mistakes in syntax much more effectively than the eye. So the quickest
‘fix’ for any manuscript is an oral reading. Even better, have a friend or
family member read it to YOU. You will immediately detect grammatical errors,
awkward sentences and punctuation. And in this way, you can fix many of them
Your acronym–Success, Measure, Accentuate,
Remain and Transition–is quite distinctive. I particularly was interested
in the MEASURE and ACCENTUATE points. So often, we don’t give ourselves credit
for the small steps we take toward success–so I always write down everything
I accomplish in a given day in order to MEASURE my progress. Attitude is always
key to success and that’s why I like your ACCENTUATE the positive theme, while
suppressing the negatives. On first glance the REMAIN in unilateral control was
puzzling to me. I think it’s an illusion that we actually have
control over anything, certainly not over what other people do or
think. But we can control our actions. I’ll be interested to see how you
develop this point later on in the text. And your TRANSITION point speaks to
something that Tony Robbins always says–EITHER YOU CHOOSE CHANGE OR IT
CHOOSES YOU–for the world is constantly evolving. You either move with it
or get left behind.
‘Over the last fifteen years, I have had the honor and
pleasure [too predictable and gushing] to work [not grammatical] with a lot of
people [too vague, how many people and in what context?] with who [not
grammatical] scored 20-25 on this quiz. Instead: ‘In the last decade, I’ve had
the honor of working alongside many of the nation’s leading motivational
thinkers, self-help practitioners, and self-made businessmen. The goal before
them wasn’t only monetary success, but creating a great career that made room
for a meaningful life!’ Something like that would be a little better. I DO like
your idea about creating a life of not just success, but of meaning found in
family and faith, though as you’ll see, I’m skeptical about the extended final
chapter about God in your book.
I DO think placing a QUIZ on the back jacket is an excellent
idea! It draws the reader in for sure and makes them want to keep reading.
Yet if a reader scores HIGH on the test, perhaps they’d feel as if they don’t
need the book. It’s really people who score lower who are most likely to
benefit from it. Nevertheless, it’s an effective hook.
Finally, in your biography, as presented, be a little
more specific about your background, e.g. college degrees and training, the
number of years you’ve worked in this field, and the kinds of clients you’ve
had on your roster. Leave out the UPS driver, church administrator references.
Keep it focused on what you do now. Also delete the word ‘closet’ in
describing your interest as an artist.
I must say that I was quite charmed by the Smartest Man in the World story on
page 2! Excellent writing and very funny. I’m not sure I’m in favor of the
Tate-isms that appear throughout the text. It’s going to sound a bit
egotistical and you don’t need to do it. Instead, do what Tony Robbins does:
italicize or bold face your point, but leave the ‘Tateism’ out of it. Also:
This sentence is not grammatical or tightly written: ‘Smart people know that
success in life is not determined by how smart you are;
– [don’t use the word ‘smart‘ twice,
perhaps use the phrase: ‘mere intelligence‘] – but rather by the wisdom inherent in their decisions.’
Your leadership and Life Plan 2001 is quite well organized. I like that you can
see, in one sweeping glance, the entire blueprint of someone’s work life and
why it’s become the cornerstone of your consulting business. Every successful
executive uses different techniques for organizing their goals, and this is
certainly a viable one. But the writing on page 4 is tedious and too
repetitious: Read over point 3 about leaders developing naturally. It’s a
simple point that strategic thinking, i.e. planning, is one secret to success
and happiness. But it’s too wordy. The Tateism on page 4 is already
one too many.
I notice that you’ve mixed together the themes of business success and
‘balancing your life and improving family relationships.’ I think the reader
who buys this book is MOST interested in the business angle, not the emotional
issues connected to family, much less the spiritual issues you mention at the end
of the book. Those are different books. I could be wrong. It’s obvious from
your writing that your main interest and expertise is in building a strategy
for corporate success. ‘You love to continue your career with your
organization and continue developing skills and networks…..etc.’ This is
business talk. But I DO like that you mention the importance of needing a LIFE
PLAN before you can solidify a BUSINESS PLAN. Of course, the values we cherish
as people will have everything to do with how we run our businesses and what
results we get.
A Tip From Glenn
Read your text OUT LOUD – because the ear always detects mistakes in syntax much more effectively than the eye. Therefore, the quickest “fix” for any manuscript is an oral reading.