10 Things To Ask Yourself Before Writing That Business Book

By Erin Entrada Kelly, Book Publicist, Smith Publicity

Business books are a mainstay. Corporate insights and outlooks may change, but the genre never goes out of style. The market is flooded with books about how to make more money, manage teams, become a great leader, reduce corporate stress, increase corporate profits, etc. With so much competition, it can be difficult for your unique voice to break through. According to research by the Codex Group, only about 6 percent of business books published in a given year sell more than 1,000 copies.

Don’t let that discourage you. Let it motivate you.

Here are 10 tips to help you get ahead of the pack.

What do you want to say?

Yes, this seems obvious. But you’d be surprised how many people draft a book or develop entire outlines without knowing what they’re trying to say. You should be able to encapsulate your idea into a single “elevator pitch.” Aim for two sentences. Once you get down to the core concept(s), ask yourself, ‘what is your book about?’

What do you have to offer?

Why should readers choose your book over competing titles? You’re not entitled to readers simply by writing a book. You have to offer them something useful. You have to give them takeaways. They need to have a reason to read your book. To get, you must first give!

What makes your book different?

Let’s say you have your takeaways, your elevator pitch, and a solid understanding of what your book is about. Now it’s time to consider the cold hard truth: There are other books out there. Lots of them. Why is yours different? What is your book doing that the others aren’t? This is key.

Who is your audience?

Who are you talking to? C-suite executives? Emerging CEOs? Middle management? Entry level? Business owners? Business investors? What are their needs and wants, and how does your book help them?

Who is your reader?

Consider your reader as an individual. Create reader personas. What does your reader’s daily life look like? Perhaps you want to appeal to overloaded and overscheduled executives, so you offer your book in bite-sized bits that they can read on their smart phone or on the train. Maybe your reader is an administrative assistant who wants to move up the corporate ladder. You might want to appeal to busy working moms. Once you imagine your reader as an individual, you can determine how your book will operate in their life.

What are your readers already reading?

Have a solid understanding of what’s on the business bookshelves. Now that you understand your audience and your reader, you need to read what they’re reading. This will also help you answer the ever-important question: What makes you different?

What do you know?

If you’re writing a business book, you probably have several years of experience under your belt. If so, use it. Put yourself out there. If you’re invited to speak at conferences, do it. If you can contribute bylines to trade magazines, write them. If you’re on social media, engage people. Elevate yourself as an author, and this will help elevate the books you write. Develop a strong book marketing plan to showcase your expertise, and follow it!

Do you have a virtual business card?

You need an online presence to support your book marketing efforts. First and foremost, you need a viable website. When you have a website, you can create and develop a blog, upload shareable content, and feed back into your brand from your social media platforms. Basically, a website provides a stage that you can control. What more can you ask for? Find out what you can budget for a website and find a company that will develop one for you. Research the sites of authors that you enjoy and business experts in your field to get some ideas. See how other successful authors employ book publicity tactics. Many authors are active on social media because it allows them to speak directly to their readers. Are you on social media? If not, why not?

What are your strengths?

What makes you the best person to write this book? What makes you—the author—different? Bottom line: Why should readers listen to you instead of someone else? Embrace your strengths. Make a list, even. Then figure out how to use them to your advantage. Are you a fantastic public speaker? Get some speaking gigs. Are you a dedicated blogger who has a way with words? Amp up your blog. Use every resource available to you.

What are your weaknesses?

Now that you’ve patted yourself on the back, it’s time to take a look at your weaknesses. Be honest with yourself. Do you freeze in front of media? Maybe you need to get some media training or practice your PR persona. Do your writing skills need a boost? Consult an editor or consider a co-author. Do you have ideas, but no time? Think about hiring a ghost writer. Ask yourself: What are the roadblocks between me and success? Then spend time figuring out what you can do about them.

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