From time to time I like to bring a guest blogger on for a fresh perspective on my bi-weekly “Ask a Ghostwriter” blog series. Today my colleague and friend, Laura Sherman offers us some advice. As a high-quality professional ghostwriter, Laura has a lot of experience writing business books and she’s here to talk about it.
If you talk to a public relations expert, he will most likely advise you to write a book about your niche area of expertise. A well-written book helps your business grow in so many different ways and is a strategic element in your branding campaign. It’s smart business to write a business book!
When I speak to most business owners about writing a book, they admit that they don’t have that kind of time. They are already overloaded with a jam-packed sixty-hour workweek.
Let’s see if we can make the process a little easier for you to tackle.
A Few Preliminary Steps
The first step must include making a commitment to write a business book. While that might sound simplistic, it is a vital part of your battle plan. Make an agreement with yourself to see the project through to completion.
Once you’re sure you want to embark on this adventure, here is my advice on the next few steps to follow.
Determine Your Purpose
As a ghostwriter, one of my first questions for a client is “Why are you writing this book?” A book without a purpose will fail.
I’m most eager to help the CEO who wants to share his or her successful actions with budding entrepreneurs. Business owners who are willing to share their advice, to open up and to confide their errors, with the ultimate goal of paving the way for other business owners to succeed, are heroes in my book.
Readers will sense if the author’s goal is purely financial. They will not be inspired to read your book. After all, their goal in picking up your book will never be to make you rich. Rather, they are looking for advice and actions that will help them achieve their own goals.
Know Your Readership
Never write your book for “everyone.” You need to consider your audience. Who will want to purchase and read your book? When you have identified your readership, craft your message to suit those particular people. After all, the words you choose will be different for a young computer programmer than an elderly bridge player, right?
Also, write your book as if you are addressing one individual at a time. Your reader will be more engaged and learn and benefit from your wisdom and advice.
Determine Your Format
Before you can begin to write, you must settle on a style for your book. The best way to get inspiration is to read a few other business books. You can skim them. Simply find a format that appeals to you.
The good news is that you have choices! One of them is the memoir format with lots of sage business advice sprinkled throughout. Then there’s the step-by-step approach detailing the accomplishment of a particular goal, task, or procedure. Pick the format that most appeals to you and will resonate with your readership.
How To Write Your Business Book
Once you have the purpose, readership, and format decided, it’s time to get set up to write before you can begin putting words on pages.
Find Your Focus
The first thing to determine is the precise problem that your reader is tackling so that you can solve it. Pick one. If you try to solve too many problems, your book will ramble and lose the interest of your reader.
It could be that you’re trying to help new homeschooling parents navigate this unfamiliar arena, giving them choices about a method and curricula. Or perhaps you run several gas stations off a major interstate and can offer tips for starting up that kind of business.
Whatever you decide, it will be your job to explore the problem in-depth, then present a concrete and easy-to-follow solution.
Collect Your Notes And Brainstorm
This part will be fun. It doesn’t really matter how you go about brainstorming. Just to get your ideas out of your head and onto the paper (or a word doc). Don’t worry about order, grammar, or anything else. And please don’t edit in this phase; just write down whatever comes to you. Create a massive ideas folder.
Once you allow yourself to put down ideas, they should flood onto the paper. Allow them to. Don’t stop the natural flow at all. When the new ideas dwindle to a trickle, that’s when you know to switch your attention to the next phase.
Tip: you might invest in speech recognition software or simply use your phone to translate your voice into the written word. That way, if you think of a brilliant segment for your book while you’re out, you can just email it back to yourself easily. A lot of my clients love this feature.
Organize Your Outline
Now that you have most of your ideas down in one document, it’s time to organize the thoughts into an outline.
The format of your outline will depend on the format of your business book.
If you’re writing a memoir, you need to put all the incidents of your story in chronological order. That way you can start to see the flow of your story. Check out my article on Tips for Organizing and Outlining a Memoir.
For most other formats you’ll create a Table of Contents with a lot of subsections. I’d advise you not to make any single segment too long. It’s best to break up each key element into easy to read sections. Once you have these down, simply put the contents of your idea folder into your Table of Contents. Everything should have a spot. If it doesn’t, create a new subhead.
Words On Pages
Now that you have your completed outline, the book is practically written…in your head. That’s how it is for me! I know exactly what I’m going to say; now I just have to take the time to write it down. I need words on pages.
Don’t get overwhelmed.
It’s a good idea to set a schedule for yourself. After all, that’s probably how you got to be a successful CEO or entrepreneur. You set yourself targets and goals, then met them no matter what tried to get in your way.
If you’d like some specific tips for completing your book, check out my article: Completing a Book: The Time, the Space, and the Goal.
Whatever you do, hold yourself accountable for completing your project. Never lose your drive and passion to write a business book.
The Benefits Of A Business Book
I’ve written many business books over the last twenty years and love the genre. It’s exciting for me to help my clients achieve the many benefits that come from such an accomplishment. While you will certainly sell copies of your book, there are other tangible benefits in store for you when you write a business book.
If you’re a successful CEO, consider the response from your client base when they learn that you are a published author. Having a book with your name blazoned on the cover is one of the best ways to show credibility.
Think about it. People respond to published authors a little differently, don’t they? Not only do new and old clients respect you, but your peers look up to you as well.
Be An Authority Figure
When you have a well-written book with many book reviews and copies sold, various people will want to interview you. You will be asked to guest blog, speak at conferences, be featured on podcasts, and quoted in other books and articles.
Your visibility will be catapulted into a new realm.
It’s wonderful when, year after year, new people discover your work and write fresh reviews for your book or quote you in their articles. You become a recognized expert in your niche market. This increased visibility will certainly organically increase your client base.
Not only will you make money each time you sell a copy of your book, but your customer base will rise exponentially as your book sales increase. As you market your book, you’ll come up with ways to collect new names and email addresses. Your readers could become new clients and be your best word-of-mouth referral sources.
For some, the money earned from increased sales far exceeds the cash received from selling the book. If you sell a high-ticket product or service, just one new client can make a huge difference.
There are many ways you can make money indirectly through your book. How you channel this resource is only limited by your creativity.
Now Is A Good Time To Get Started
Now that you know the value of a business book and have an inkling of how to proceed, it’s time to take the plunge. The best thing to do is to set aside a dedicated time every day when you write a business book. It may take a year to get it done, depending on the amount of time you spend on it. But like the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, it’s the steady progress that will get you to your goal.
Author Bio: Laura Sherman (aka the Friendly Ghostwriter) has been helping authors write their stories for twenty years. When she’s not busy building worlds for her clients, she homeschools three children as the family travels the country in her RV.