11 Steps to Creating a
Successful Business Book.
Great business books do change the world. They change the world one discipline or market segment at a time. They make a measurable difference in how entrepreneurs and executives start, grow, and manage their businesses. And, that makes a world of difference to each business reader.
You may have the beginnings of a great business book lurking within your brain. We will show you how to take your ideas and to transform them into a business book that benefits executives and entrepreneurs–and will therefore benefit you and your business.
Cyndee Woolley and Heather Schuck have followed these rules. Their books are being published by Voyager Media Books, June 2013. You can see their book covers here.
Can you write a successful business book?
- you begin with a solid body of knowledge
- you are willing to do the research to expand that knowledge
- you can offer a unique approach to your market niche
- you can write logically and coherently
- you have self-discipline and a respect for deadlines
- you are willing to become a one-person marketing and promotion maniac
If that sounds like you, our 11 step program will put you on the path to creating a book that changes the world for 1000s of targeted business readers who need your help.
Here are the 11 steps to transforming your ideas into a successful business book.
- You must define a “unique book benefit.” This is a very brief statement of 25 to 30 words that makes it instantly and intuitively clear why your target reader will benefit from reading your book. That unique book benefit should then be clearly reflected in your title and subtitle.
This is critical because you will be competing with thousands of other business books from which your target readers can choose. When your prospective readers are book browsing–and this will be increasingly online–they need to understand what sets your book apart and why it will benefit them more than dozens of other potential choices.
- You need to develop an in-depth understanding of your ideal target reader. If possible, flesh out a detailed persona of exactly who will benefit the most from reading your book.
For example, your ideal reader may be a c-level executive with 20 or more years of experience who is struggling to understand how to use content marketing and social media in his mid-size manufacturing company. He is primarily self-taught, does not have an MBA, and is skeptical of highfalutin marketing nonsense. He is reluctant, but not unwilling to embrace new ways of doing business. As a pragmatic thinker, he is looking for practical, put-it-to-work advice in any book that he reads.
With that kind of persona in mind, you can craft your content carefully so that it will resonate perfectly with that ideal target reader. By the way, this does not mean that other readers won’t benefit, but it does mean that you will deliver maximum benefit to your target.
- Determine whether there is a large enough market for your book so that it can sell in the thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of copies.
Some quick and easy research will enable you to make this determination. Among the questions you should ask:
- Are there a number of newspapers or magazines that cover your subject area? Are their high-quality dedicated websites and blogs?
- Using industry statistics, can you determine whether there are 100,000 people or more in your market niche?
- Are there examples of books addressing a similar market or problem that are already selling well? A quick review of Amazon.com will give you the info you need here.
- Will your book be different enough for business executives to add it to their must-read library? Again, an objective look through Amazon.com listings will help you with this exercise.
- Can you identify people who definitely need the information you will be providing and would be willing to buy a book that deliver that information? Talk to your customers and prospects to find out the information that you will be delivering is something that they really, really need.
- You need a great title just as much as the print advertisement needs a great headline. Your title must make it crystal clear why your targeted a business reader would be crazy not to pick up your book and begin reading.
For example, David Meerman Scott’s original 2007 classic, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” addressed the intense concern among the marketing and PR community that the rules were changing. But, when David wrote the book, hardly anybody understood what the new rules were or how they should respond to them. Thus, if you were a marketing pro, you knew you had to read this book in order to survive the tsunami of change in your industry.
A corollary to this point is the need for an explanatory subtitle that provides enough extra detail to lure your potential reader inside the book. For David Meerman Scott the subtitle was, “How to use social media, blogs, news releases, online video, and viral marketing to reach buyers directly.”
The combination of David’s title and subtitle make it clear to his target readers that his book addresses a huge problem that they face–and that it will tell them how to solve those problems.
- A detailed book outline is essential to providing a logical path that your readers can follow from the first sentence of the introduction to the final sentence of the last chapter. To make outline creation much less daunting, imagine giving a brief face-to-face presentation to your ideal target reader. Your outline should then derive naturally from the imaginary presentation.
Thus, if you are writing a book about a new way of dealing with the kind of change the David Meerman Scott described, you would want to cover current market realities, what needs to change, how to make the necessary changes, and how to keep improving as you go.
To deliver that imaginary 25 minute presentation to your client, here’s what you need to nail down:
- How can you set the stage in 60 seconds?
- What are the 5 to 10 most important high-level points to make with just 60 seconds per point?
- What are the 5 to 10 best examples and/or case studies for each point you’re making—60 seconds per example?
- How can you wrap everything up in 2 minutes so that the prospect is ready and willing to take action right now?
- What outline content based on the preceding points would still make perfect sense to that prospect as a blueprint of your book?
- Commit to a regular writing schedule and stick to it. Whether you write every day, several times a week or just on the weekend, be consistent. Determine the minimum number of words you can produce each and every week until you have completed the manuscript. Keep in mind that a typical business book will be about 200 pages and 50,000 words at 250 words per page. When the going gets tough, real authors keep writing.
When you think you’re running into writer’s block, just write something. My all-time favorite mystery novelist, Elmore Leonard said that when he ran into trouble, he would just start laying brick. Eventually the pages get built and the book gets finished.
Because your outline should keep you on course, you simply need to keep putting words on virtual pages within its basic structure. Keep in mind that whatever you write will require editing to transform it from adequate to brilliant, so don’t worry about generating perfect prose at this point. Keep plugging away, no matter how painful or frustrating.
- Because writing a book is both challenging and time-consuming, seriously consider finding a compatible co-author. I learned just how important this approach can be with our book, Get Content Get Customers. My co-author, Joe Pulizzi, and I complemented each other’s efforts as we shared continuous and constructive feedback. Joe focused more on the theory of content marketing and I did most of the interviews and case studies. What might have been a back-breaking effort became an enjoyable partnership that produced a book that has helped more than 10,000 readers understand and implement content marketing strategies. But, and it’s a big but, be certain to find a talented, reliable, and compatible writing partner who complements your strengths. Thus, if you are a 30,000 foot creative type, find a down-to-earth practical counterpart. If you hate interviewing, look for a skilled reporter who loves eliciting great stuff form interviewees.
- Invest in first class editorial talent to whip your book manuscript in the shape. Even the very best writers require editing. Because most of us fall into the okay to good writer category, we really need editorial help. This is true whether you plan to publish your book yourself, work with a small independent, or hope to be published by one of the big traditional publishing companies. You owe it to your readers to deliver a book that is well worth reading. Of course, no publisher is likely to accept less than a first class manuscript.
- First, find one or more demanding writer/editors who are willing to give you objective and constructive feedback on your book. Joe Pulizzi and I were fortunate to get this kind of help from my former colleagues, Mike Azzara and David Drickhamer. Their feedback enabled us to turn a flawed first draft into a publication-worthy business book.
- Second, find an excellent copy editor, preferably one with business book experience. A great copy editor can transform pedestrian prose into compelling and engaging copy that is both grammatically correct and fun to read.
- Third, get a persnickety proofreader who will eliminate the pesky typos and goofs that would keep your book from being polished and professional.
- Although you may have visions of being published by one of the giants–and, this is certainly possible–your best bet in today’s market is to work with a small, independent publisher or to publish the book yourself. No matter how good your manuscript, a major publishing company is unlikely to handle your book unless you are already a successful author with a powerful public platform like Seth Godin or David Meerman Scott. Moreover, your book’s time to publication is likely to be 18 to 24 months, by which time its content may sadly out of date.
Independent publishers like Voyager Media, Inc. (the original publisher of Get Content Get Customers can to move your book to market much more quickly. In addition, because the publishing model is moving quickly online and from print to e-books, the importance of big-time publisher has diminished dramatically. In addition, Voyager Media, Inc. and several small publishers offer much higher royalty rates because they’re using an online-centric distribution model.
You may also want to consider self-publishing through reputable providers such as Amazon.com’s CreateSpace or Wheatmark.com. You may need to make a fairly significant upfront investment to get your book into shape for self-publishing, but the best companies in this market niche do an excellent job of turning your manuscript into a print or e-book version.
- Finally, and most importantly, you must be ready to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the promotion of your book. It doesn’t matter whether you are self-publishing or working with a publishing company. You cannot rely completely on anyone else to make your book a success. You are the most important marketing weapon for your book. Book marketing is a topic unto itself, but here are some techniques that work well for today’s successful business authors:
- Send lots of free books to thought leaders in your market segment who write regularly on related topics. This is the best shot you have of getting meaningful reviews in the real world. The days of hoping for a New York Times book review are pretty much ove
- Connect with clients by providing free review copies as well as opportunities to buy bulk quantities for their organization.
- Issue as many newsworthy press releases as possible to generate interest among both prospective reviewers and likely book buyers
- Create a dedicated book website such as the one we built for Get Content Get Customers which still receives significant traffic three years after its initial launch.
- Start a blog that is either specific to the book or to the topic which it covers and that provides regularly updated information to current and prospective readers.
- Find as many opportunities as you can to speak in front of business groups who can benefit from your book’ s content who may help promote your book.
- Use the many marketing tools that Amazon.com provides for authors including the integration of your blog on your Amazon book page.
- Write book reviews on Amazon.com with links back to your author page.
- Become an expert voice on LinkedIn and other forums that regularly discuss topics relevant to your book.
- Create a Twitter account specific to your book that provides quick and compelling 140 character content for your target readers.
If you follow this 11 step approach to creating, publishing, and promoting your book, you are well on your way to becoming a thought leader and a trusted source of vital information for your target customers.
Your customers and your prospects will look to you first to provide the answers they need to solve their problems because your book proves that you have the expertise required to make that happen.
Your book will sell well, even if it never makes the bestseller lists. But, by publishing a book that is uniquely positioned, well targeted, content-rich, well-written, well designed, and assiduously promoted, you leapfrog you book—and your business–competition.