With the rise in self-publishing services and eBook popularity, anyone can write, publish and distribute a book around the world … but should they?
Unfortunately, many self-published books are done on the cheap – they have amateurish covers and internal layouts, they are riddled with grammatical errors and often they provide little value to their readers.
If you’re thinking about writing a book for your business, do you really want a tacky, unprofessional book representing your brand?
If not, read on for five tips that aren’t just about how anyone can write a business book, but how anyone can write a great one.
1. Find a bestselling book idea
You’re highly qualified in your field and have fifteen years of experience, so the subject of your book should be pretty straight forward. But you’ve just started learning about a new area that you’re really passionate about, and what you think you’d like to make that your new direction…
Meanwhile, your clients (aka your ideal readers) are thinking about something else entirely.
The mistake most entrepreneurs make is writing about what they want to write about, rather than addressing their readers’ desires and interests. The problem is that if you aren’t addressing your readers’ desires, no one will want to buy your book and you’ll be left with a very expensive paperweight.
But focusing on your readers alone isn’t enough – if you aren’t knowledgeable about your idea, you’ll end up rambling and repeating yourself to bulk up your word count (which will all get cut once you go to an editor), and if you aren’t passionate about your idea, you’ll give up part way through.
An awesome idea is one that hits the idea sweet spot – the intersection between your knowledge, passion and your readers’ desires.
2. Commit to ONE type of book
Great books come in all shapes and sizes – how-to books, memoirs, interview books and more. The mistake is not committing to one type of book before you get started – you start with a bit on your story, write five chapters that cover five steps, add some interviews, and hope for the best.
The result? Your editor will pick a book type for you, and will cut anything that isn’t relevant (I had one case where a client’s word count dropped by 45%).
Instead, commit to one type of book before you start writing.
3. Create a blueprint for your book
Only 3% of people who want to write a book succeed. Why? Because they have an idea for a book (or even ideas for their chapter topics), then sit down in front of a blank Word document and rely on inspiration to provide the content.
In other words, they fail to plan.
Instead, follow these four steps to map out your book:
1Start with your book’s central idea – in one sentence, what’s your book about?
2Brainstorm – get a blank piece of paper and write down your central idea. What other ideas does this sentence trigger? Write down everything you can think of that’s related to your central idea.
3Organise your brainstorming – review your scribbling and see if there are any common themes that come up. These themes will become the main chapters of your book.
4Plan your chapters – expand your ideas for each chapter. What do you need to cover to discuss the topic in detail?
4. Hire a team of experts
If you truly want to get a professional result, you need to bring in the professionals. This is the real difference between having a book that is an example of why some people shouldn’t write a book, and having a book that is an example of how self-publishing can produce high-quality books.
Essentially, you want to access all of the resources you would use if you went to a traditional publishing house – editors, designers, printers and publicists. Then you can rest assured that you’re not simple one of the people who’s written a book, but you’re one of the people who’s written and self-published a great one.
5. Leverage the hell out of it
If you are writing a book for your business, you shouldn’t think of it as a profit vehicle or a way to generate passive income. The purpose of your book is leverage.
Your book is like a business card or brochure – a tool you share with prospective clients, partners, investors and the media that will lead to the next conversation, sale, opportunity or deal. Just as you don’t expect to be able to sell your business cards or brochures for a profit, you shouldn’t expect to be selling books for profit. Instead of focusing on how you can sell your $25 book, the focus should be how you can leverage that $25 book to land a $10,000 opportunity.
So how can you leverage your book? Some ideas include creating bonus online resources for the book that readers can get in exchange for their email addresses, using your book as a sales tool by giving it to prospective clients, asking the influencers who endorsed your book to share your book with their databases, and more.