Published on April 28, 2021
So you want to write a business book to share your knowledge, raise your profile, become known as the expert in your field and secure some speaking invitations?
Chances are that you’ve got some writing skills. After all, you’ve written lots of proposals and discussion papers either for your team, management perhaps even for new business or start-up funding. Writing a book, therefore, is just a longer version of this writing, right?
Wrong. Just as runners train differently depending on whether they are sprinters or marathon runners, writing a worthwhile, quality business book requires a different mindset, preparation and training. And it’s this difference that catches so many business professionals, executives and entrepreneurs out when they decide to write, publish and market their business book.
Having written over 20 business books myself and worked with hundreds of business people on their books I’ve identified the 5 biggest mistakes first time business book writers make. Avoid these and you’ll be way ahead of the pack when your business book is launched to the world.
1. It’s not about you
Many business people start writing their book without thinking about who their target audience is and what their key challenges are. They are more focused on what they know and what they want to tell the world. This approach is doomed to failure as it’s more ‘look at moi’ rather than ‘how can I help others with the challenges they face’. It’s very similar to building an App that doesn’t actually solve a problem.
2. Writing for everyone
I’ve lost count of the conversations I’ve had with budding business book writers who when questioned about who their target audience is say one of two things;
- People like me (in my industry, age-group, peer group)
- People between 25-55
To write a successful business book you need to deeply know and understand your target audience. This means doing a deep dive through, at the minimum, a demographic and psychographic profile of them so you can create an Avatar. The more you know about your audience the better you can structure your book content to address their key challenges in a style and with case studies and engagement that is relevant to them.
Knowing your target audience also means understanding HOW and when they read and how they find new books. Think about it. The answer to each of these questions will determine if you create a print book, eBook, audio book or all three and in what order. In addition, it will also help you work out what you put in your book and what, for example, you make available through your website and how.
3. Think market research is not relevant
Don’t research the market – why is their book going to be different from the hundreds or thousands of books that are already out there on Amazon, Booktopia, in the bookshops etc.
While you need to be focused on your purpose and confident about the value and relevance of what you want to write, it’s important to have a good understanding of the market your book is going into and how you will differentiate your book from the others. This is especially true if you’re writing a book on a topic that has some highly recognisable experts – think Jim Collins, Robert Kiyosaki, Tim Robbins, Seth Godin, Tim Ferris, Brene Brown and Sheryl Sandberg to name a few.
“It’s a competitive world in the business book space so you need to know exactly why your book is different (your compelling story) and how it’s going to make a positive difference in the lives of your target audience.“
4. Knowing your why applies to books too
Simon Sinek has, literally (pun intended) changed the world of business with his business book Start with Why. He’s also built an empire and written several more highly successful books on the back of Start with Why’s success.
Most first time business book writers don’t stop to think about why they are writing their book other than a very top level ‘I’ve got some knowledge and insights I think I’d like to share’. While this is a good starting point it’s not nearly enough in terms of writing a successful business book.
What you write (and choose to leave out) will be partly determined by why you’re writing your book. Do you want to genuinely want to share your knowledge, build your brand, increase your profile and recognition, use the book as a business development tool, something else? Depending on your answer – your why – what you write, the time, effort and money you’ll invest in your book will be quite different.
I have some clients who say they just want to be an Amazon best seller. When I ask them why most say ‘so I can use it in my marketing’. Fine, in which case you don’t need a well written/constructed business book you just need to know how to game the Amazon best seller lists. If you want to change your industry/the world for the better you’ll be writing something quite different.
5. Fail to plan
One of the biggest mistakes first time business book writers make is that of failing to plan. Plan the content outline of their book BEFORE they start writing; for the time it will take to write multiple drafts of the their book, plan for the time and cost of the production of their book and almost completely fail to plan the marketing and promotion of their book.
Waiting for divine inspiration and then spending a weekend, week away or snatching moments in your favourite coffee shop is not going to result in a successful business book. You need to work on the outline of the content of your book before you start writing. If you don’t there’s a high likelihood that you’ll get stuck, get lost, become less confident about what you’re writing and then stop writing altogether.
And, you need to make time (plan) to write regularly every week, ideally the same time, for the same length of time in the same place. Crafting good, relevant, engaging writing is a discipline and if you write regularly it will take you less time to get back into it and you’ll be more productive when you do. Unless you’re prepared to make writing a priority, I’d think again about starting.
Write a book, make a difference
Writing a successful business book (whatever your measure of success is) is a significant commitment in terms of your time and money.
If you want your book to be successful, have an impact and demonstrate genuine 21st century leadership write a business book as real power belongs to those who share knowledge.
Peter Diamandis mega trend No. 2 illustrates this.
Global gigabit connectivity will connect everyone and everything, everywhere, at ultra-low cost: The deployment of both licensed and unlicensed 5G, plus the launch of a multitude of global satellite networks, allow for ubiquitous, low-cost communications for everyone, everywhere, not to mention the connection of trillions of devices. And today’s skyrocketing connectivity is bringing online an additional three billion individuals, driving tens of trillions of dollars into the global economy. “For those who have something to say, know how to say it and write it, this mega trend is exciting and significant.”
It sure is, so if you’ve been thinking about writing your business book, stop thinking and contact me.