As you may have noticed (!), the world has tilted on its axis... permanently. Every assumption we had about life, work and business has been challenged by the pandemic and its effects. It’s not too dramatic to talk about needing to view the world BC (Before Covid) and PC (Post Covid).
So, what does this do to all the business books out there written pre-2020? It is making whole chapters, whole sections, whole BOOKS out of date and irrelevant!
It is hard to think of an area of business advice which would feature in a book which is not now subject to some sort of adjustment and update to stay relevant to this changing world. Networking, telemarketing, HR practices, customer service, retail success… you name it, there are new chapters and whole new books to be written right now.
Now, in the early months of 2021, we are nearly a year into this changed world, still not even sure, even with the vaccine arriving, when some semblance of normal life will return. In the continuing face of empty offices, city centres and performance venues, it is easy to get carried away with an apocalyptic view of many business sectors’ futures. Just as no-one predicted this pandemic and its all-reaching effects as recently as January 2020, so no-one can correctly call what the world will look like in, say, October 2022.
By then, will we be able to look in our rearview mirror at events today and realise that all the consequences of Covid were short-term and have evaporated? Who knows? Somehow more likely feels a situation where working practices, attitudes and established assumptions have been challenged and shattered forever. The unquestioned habit of the Monday-Friday commute feels like a pattern which has now been broken permanently, replaced by a shift to some level of home working or more flexible working. Likewise, our cosy assumption has been shattered that advances in modern medicine have been so great in the last 100 years that a pandemic even vaguely akin to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919 could never remotely occur again.
Most analysts agree that changes in online trends, migrations of consumption and activity online have speeded up at least five-fold, meaning we are, in 2021 where we first would have been by 2026 or even 2030.
So much seismic change and torn-up rule books, one of which could be the book you wrote pre-2020.
Post-Covid updated editions
If a wholesale reappraisal of everything you thought and put across in a pre-2020 book is necessary, then the good news is that this may well be able to be achieved relatively quickly, easily and economically. The beauty of a self-published book is that you have the flexibility to easily create a new edition. This will require a new ISBN number and a tweak to the cover. Flag up with a corner flash or message somewhere on the cover that this is a post-Covid update to your book.
When to update?
As the haziness of an October 2022 crystal ball illustrates, undertaking a knee-jerk rewrite of a book right now could be hazardous, and so you need to weigh up which is the bigger problem: a feeling of crashing irrelevance right now about your current book as it is, or a premature rush-to-judgment update which has exceptional topical relevance now but is dated by upcoming events in less than a year’s time.
With the flexibility available to a self-published writer, it’s not too crazy an idea to put in place a 2021 edition, worked on now, with then the option of a 2022 edition prepared in October 2021, when the future lie of the land looks a bit clearer as the benefits of the vaccine rollout fully take hold.
Write a brand-new post-Covid book
Here is where great opportunities lie. Looking at the Amazon bestseller lists for various categories and sub-categories of business books, it’s surprising how long ago many of the established, still best-selling, titles were published. Of course, classics such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, written in 1936 and still currently in Amazon’s top 10 ‘Business Books’ category search, contain timeless truths which resonate just as much now as ever before. However, many other ‘authoritative texts’ on various business topics are now being threatened with new-found irrelevance.
This disruption could be your opportunity. We are all searching for new guidance, new reassurances, fresh ways of looking at this new world which can help us to make sense of it. This now may well not be provided by a book written pre-2020. Indeed, dipping into a couple of books I enjoyed last year which seemed to provide a refreshingly bold and original take on aspects of business now seem pale and timid. The 'gamechanger' solutions they offer now come across as tinkering at the edges rather than facing what are now the huge shifts taking place. The game has changed in ways that so-called gamechangers (inevitably!) failed to spot!
I’ve written elsewhere about how lockdown and the removal of commuting time has created the time and space to get writing.