Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Last weekend marked the running of the Kentucky Derby. As soon as everyone heard that Nyqvist had won the Derby, the word trifecta kept popping up. Could he possibly win the Triple Crown— the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont— the trifecta of thoroughbred horse racing? Rather than the normal betting jargon, The Urban Dictionary defines trifecta as the perfect group of three. That’s what we’re going to talk about today— no, not horse racing, we’ll be talking about a nonfiction trifecta.
Before I begin to outline the “perfect” nonfiction trifecta let me just say for the record:
- For every rule there is an exception. The exceptions are thoroughly delightful because they make those of us who try to make sense of this publishing game look like complete mouth-breathers and they make the unwitting recipient look like a genius. They keep us forever humble and grateful.
- We’re talking mostly prescriptive nonfiction here, not memoir, not cookbooks, not travel, etc.
- We’re taking the quality of the writing out of the equation here. I know, I know—it’s really all about the writing, but we need to remove that variable to look at these three elements.
So, we’re going to talk about the trifecta for a nonfiction project. In trying to come up with a way to describe it, I’d say it’s topic + author + platform. The perfect project would be a book on a compelling topic to which the author has devoted his life, possesses the necessary credentials and already has a following for that particular topic. It’s “perfect plus” if the author is the one the media would call if they needed an interview on that topic.
It sounds cold-blooded and calculating and we freely admit that the perfect package rarely comes along but I think by recognizing the elements it helps us explore the subjects for which we may be a perfect match.
For instance, let’s say you are a board certified cardiologist who has specialized in nutrition for heart health and weight loss. You developed a diet and all your patients began to have unusual success. The buzz started and even the media began to beat a path to your door. The set-up for a publishing trifecta? Absolutely. It’s called the South Beach Diet.
Or how about this scenario? You’ve spent a lifetime as a productivity guru and your seminars are popular all across the country. What if you synthesize your philosophy down into Seven Habits and promise success? It worked for Stephen Covey.
Admittedly, those are the uber-successes but in examining the elements we can apply it to our own projects. Your project needs to be a combination of your passion + you + the people who are already following you. That’s the trifecta.
Can you come up with more examples of a nonfiction trifecta? How about some of those glorious exceptions? And what can you do if you only have two of the three?