Have a business book idea? Follow these tips for getting published
Thinking of parlaying your professional expertise into a book but don’t know where to start? We’ve coached hundreds of authors over the past decade, and, across the board, we’ve found that authors who treat their books like businesses find more success. Moreover, authors whose books are extensions of their businesses find the most success. If your book is aligned with the mission of your business, your marketing efforts will cross-pollinate and help you go further, faster.
Here are five tips for first-time business book authors:
1. Know your audience like you know your best friend
This means, of course, knowing your primary audience intimately. Start with your customers. You probably want your book to help you land more of them. Demographics and habits are just the starting point; take time to get to know the emotional side of your readers. What do they need? What keeps them up at night?
Also, know your secondary audiences. When your book naturally ripples outward from your primary audience, who comes next? Adam Dince, author of Hopeful to Hired, had this to say: “I wrote Hopeful to Hired to help students prepare for the job they want straight out of college. … In hindsight, I should have considered other audiences … for example, military service members in transition or displaced older workers looking to find employment in new industries.”
2. Be honest about your creative work style
Do you work well with lots of small to-do list items? Or are you a big-picture thinker who likes to dig into a project all at once? Are you a self-starter, or do you need someone to hold your feet to the fire?
Figuring out how you write best is the most crucial piece to achieving the most crucial piece: writing the dang book. And writing takes a totally different kind of energy than other tasks on the average business leader’s to-do list, so it might be hard to fit writing around your day-to-day.
Once you know how you write best — whether it’s first thing in the morning, a solitary week at a cabin or at a busy coffee shop with your earbuds in — consistency is key.
Be honest with yourself about your track record with consistency. Writing can be lonely; most authors need a writing coach or partner to stay on track. John Wessinger, author of Ride the Wave, says: “Initially, I tried to write and work at the same time. … I found it really hard to be consistent and even harder to stay focused. If you don’t schedule time to write or create blocks of hours during the day to immerse yourself in the writing, it’s hard to produce good content. I found that when I shut things down and really focused on the writing, that’s when I wrote the best stuff.”
3. Start your marketing plan early
Knowing where you’re going to market your book will help you make better decisions in the writing and publishing processes. For example, if you decide that you’ll be approaching airport retail channels, your readers will likely have two–five hours on their flights to read your book, so you might plan for a short, concise read. If you know your audience is nonprofit leaders with limited annual budgets, an accessible price point will be important, so you’ll want to opt for a softcover.
Dince says, “[Creating my marketing plan] really helped me solidify the value proposition of the book, why I was writing it, who it was for, and how my book needed to be different than other books in the marketplace.”
4. Find your ambassadors
One of the most important things you can do in building a marketing plan is to find and develop your ambassadors. Your ambassadors are the people in your network who will help you along the way. Your ambassadors might:
- Contribute to a crowdfunding campaign before publishing
- Preorder your book once it’s available for purchase from retail outlets, such as Amazon
- Write an endorsement or foreword
- Write a review on online forums, such as a blog or on amazon.com
- Attend your launch party
- Post about your book on social media
- Introduce you to their connections
- Recommend you for speaking opportunities
Your ambassadors can help you from day one.
Wessinger says, “I was surprised at how much of a positive response you get from people . . . [my book has] created a different dynamic with the people I know personally as well as with the professional connections in my network. People view writing a book as an accomplishment and are just really supportive of what you’ve done.”
5. You are your book’s secret sauce
Here’s a little bit of writing wisdom: Everything has been said, and everything has been done. You will not be totally original in your book. And that’s okay. From Aristotle to Maya Angelou to J.K. Rowling to Tony Robbins, the same human wisdom has been captured and shared in writing for eons. Your words, your own little slice of the story, might just be what makes a real difference in someone’s life or business. You and your business have a purpose in the world, and your book should reflect it. The success of your book has to start with you, and it has to align with your greater mission as a leader. If you’re writing a book to breathe new life into your business, start by examining the mission of your company. What do you want your business to do in the world? What messages are important for your audience to know? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can begin to examine what book concept would fit best with your greater goals.
Hint: It’s not all about profit; it’s about impact.