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  • Writer's pictureLaura Schaefer

How to Approach Your Book with a “Both/And” Philosophy

Today I want to discuss a common issue that crops up for leaders, coaches, and entrepreneurs when they begin writing a book: whether to call what they’re trying to create a memoir or a business book.

It’s confusing because most people did not learn their most valuable life and business lessons by osmosis or by luck. They learned their lessons and gathered their unique wisdom through real-life, challenging circumstances—by overcoming tough events and growing through difficulties.

And now, these individuals want to share their stories with the world. Because it’s personal, the whole thing sounds like a memoir…right?

But the idea of writing one of those is overwhelming—and seems as if it could be unwise or impractical from a business perspective.

Does this sound familiar?

If you are struggling with what sort of book to write, I am here to help you. I want to introduce you to the concept of the “both/and” book: a business book animated by the best elements of memoir. This kind of book is my absolute sweet spot as a ghostwriter.

Here’s how the process of creating one of these valuable books works:

1. First, think of the one main theme or challenge you’ve overcome in your life. This is the central idea of your book. For me, that one main theme would probably be about following my inner voice—trusting it, giving it better tools, making time to tune into it. Every chapter of my “both/and” book would have something to do with this central idea.

2. Next, consider 6-7 main lessons you’d like to give to your reader. These lessons will form your book chapters. Think of your reader as your younger self, perhaps 22-26 years old.

  • What do you want to tell them?

  • What have you learned gradually over time in business and in life?

  • What lessons were the hardest to integrate?

For me, one of the hardest lessons to learn was simply: “I am responsible.” I am responsible for every single aspect of my life. No one is coming to save me, and that’s a lovely thing. Truly. If someone had come to save me (financially), I never would’ve built this awesome business helping others tell their stories. I would’ve missed out on a whole swath of the human experience. This lesson is powerful, and it actually fits nicely under the larger theme of following my inner voice (the one that is obsessed with books and reading). Cool, right?

3. From here, we’re going to turn our attention to the memoir aspect of your book. The 6-7 main lessons you want to teach will never connect with your reader unless you illustrate each one of them with a powerful story. A story YOU’VE lived. A story with detail, with texture. A story only YOU can tell.

4. We will then bolster your 6-7 main chapter lessons with secondary stories from your clients and friends as well as data from scientific studies, news stories, cultural trends, etc. The point of this part of the process is to strengthen the lesson you are trying to teach by providing the reader not just with the depth of your lesson or idea, but with further applications and information…breadth.

5. Finally, you will provide your reader with some concrete action steps, tips, and chapter takeaways. This is the business book part. Give away your ideas! If you’d like your readers to press your book into the hands of others, be deeply generous. Share what works.

The "Both/And" Takeaway

When you break down a book project using this powerful “both/and” approach, the whole process becomes a lot more manageable and fun. From start to finish, we know exactly what we are doing and how each and every element of the book serves one central purpose. I love this approach because the whole point of a memoir is to pick and choose the stories that you tell from your life in service of a larger theme. A memoir is NOT an autobiography. It’s selective. It’s perfect. It's inspiring.

I also want to mention that between 600,000 and 1 million book titles are published in the United States each year, and over 2 million in the world. If you want your book to connect—to find its readers—you need to keep a relentless focus on the reader. Each and every story you choose to tell in your book MUST serve that purpose. It should solve a pressing problem for your reader. You cannot just tell a story from your life because it stands out in your mind or it’s fun to tell. Focus on the reader and you will win. Force yourself to choose only your best, most useful or instructive, life stories. I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR EVERYTHING. (Picture me covering my ears.) LALALALALALA! 😊

My Ghostwriter Promise

I love helping my clients create powerful “both/and” books. If you choose to hire me, I can promise you I will:

  • Communicate regularly to keep our project on track

  • Make the process of getting stories out of your head and onto the page easy

  • Meet you with empathy and kindness as we dig into your life’s stories

  • Deliver a manuscript we can both be proud of on or before the due date

I only have four client slots left for 2020. If writing a “both/and” book appeals to you, I encourage you to reach out to me today and grab one of them. If you enjoyed this post, please give it a thumbs up. Thank you!

Much love,


The best books combine elements of memoir with elements of a business book.
Are you confused about whether to write a memoir or a business book with your ghostwriter?

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