I recently responded to a the following question on Quora recently:
“If you were to write a book, what would you say is the must read chapter?”
I’m going to answer this from the perspective of someone that loves to read (I do) and as someone that is working on writing a book (I am).
As a reader, I expect every chapter to be a must-read chapter, if it’s not, then why would it be included in the first place? I want value in each chapter to advance my knowledge of a subject or to take the story to a new depth of development.
As a writer, I don’t want to take the time and effort to write chapters that are not a must-read. The level of effort that goes into writing a book is extensive. Research, outlining, drafting and the dreaded editing all have both time and emotional costs. I don’t want to go through that experience to produce something that isn’t valued by the reader. Would you?
In general, I think this question is an important one. There are too many books that are written with useless filler. Many books are long seemingly because we’ve trained ourselves to believe that more is better. This is wrong.
As a reader, I want condensed action and insight and would rather pay more for a short but high-quality book than a mediocre long book. As a writer, I hope to practice what I preach and provide only as many chapters as are necessary to properly convey what the reader needs to find valuable. They should all be must read.
Why am I re-sharing this here? Because it provides a broader lesson for digital citizens. It’s easy to get caught in a production trap. Being prolific is important for life in the digital age. But length and quantity simply as it’s own benchmark is not valuable. The goal is to provide prolific value. No one wants to read crap, look at crap photos, or watch crap videos. It’s imperative that a digital citizen practices concise and quality production. Don’t set arbitrary goals. Use a value oriented approach to cultivate a sense reciprocity with your audience.
It’s an in-kind value exchange. Give them shit and you’ll get shit. Give them gold and you will get gold.