5 key questions you need to ask before you start writing your business book


As someone who puts the description Writer on any official documents and the title Storyteller on my business card I am regularly asked how I write or ‘How do I start?’

My response is usually, ‘Well, just start. Sit down somewhere comfortable every day for a certain period of time and write down what it is you want to say.’ For someone who has that long-awaited novel or story just waiting to burst out of them this might work. For business books, however, this approach simply won’t work.

Writing a business book involves a lot of research, interviewing and exploring, reading, taking notes, listening and asking questions. Quite frankly, there’s not a lot of writing that goes on in the initial stage of writing a business book.

In the lead up to Christmas, some of you (especially those in the Southern Hemisphere) might have more time to think and plan your long-awaited business book.

Before you start writing answer these 5 questions. They’ll provide valuable insight to what your book should be about. Write just one paragraph on each of these (that’s about 150 words).

  1. What is the core idea/concept of your business?

Write your idea/introduction piece first. Think about the person who has come across your book, liked the title and cover enough to pick it up or explore it further online or in the bookshop.

If you don’t grab the reader with your concept it’s unlikely that they’ll look further in to it or buy it.

Here’s what most people do with a book, a printed one or online.

  1. a)Look at the title and subtitle;
  2. b)Read the back of the book, aka what others have said about the book;
  3. c)Open it up and read the Introduction and, maybe, the contents page

That’s it. As Albert Einstein said: ‘If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough.’

2. Why is it different from others in the marketplace?

What’s the fresh/different perspective you bring? Include in here what you think is missing currently in your area and how you address this gap.

3. Who are your potential customers/clients?

Most people who want to write a book start by thinking about what they want to write, what they want to tell the world, their family or even just themselves. For a business book though it’s critically important to have a clear idea about who you think will want to read what you are writing.

Thinking about your target audience is critical as it will have a significant impact on what you write, how you write it and how much you write.

Construct a buyer persona for your book. Dive deeply into who your ‘ideal reader/customer’ is otherwise you might just be writing for a mythical person or, more likely, you’re not targeting your messages and efforts to the right people.

4. What is the biggest problem/challenge your potential customers/buyers of your book face, and how can you help them resolve this?

What do you have in common with the people you want to reach with your book? The answer to this question will connect your story with their story to become ‘your shared story’.

5. Why would they contact you rather than a competitor?

Why is your solution/insight different from all the other books, blogs, websites out there already? Why should someone buy your book, read what you have to write, listen to you?

I’d be happy to look at your responses to these 5 questions and get you started on your business book writing journey. Contact me on jaqui@thebookadviser.com.au