For an impartial resource list, try not to list yourself first

27Sep11

Towards the end of a non-fiction book that I was reading, I glanced over the resource list that the author had compiled. The entries in the list were straightforward, and I have no doubt that many of them would be useful to readers who want to learn more about the topics covered in the book. However, there was one problem: the author listed his own company at the very top of the list.

What’s wrong with this approach? In short, unless you’re clearly the biggest player in an industry, it looks sketchy to put yourself at the top of a resource list. As the author, your readers expect you to be objective and to keep the self-promotion to a reasonable level. If you automatically catapult any mention of your company above everyone else, it makes people question the overall objectivity of the rest of your writing.

There’s a few ways to resolve this. For example, you could sort the resource list alphabetically, or by some other set of criteria, placing your own company wherever it logically belongs. Alternatively, you could put your company in a separate section before the list itself, and emphasize that you’re doing so for convenience, and not because you’re trying to suggest that your firm is better than everyone else.

By making sure that your resource list comes across as impartial and objective, you’ll retain the trust and confidence that you’ve built up with readers. In turn, they’ll be more likely to recommend your writing to others, and will be more motivated to contact you when they need your professional expertise.



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