I was chatting with someone recently who had written 80% of two books and was stuck. She could not overcome her fear of finishing.

I explored this further with her and she responded that she was scared about what people would say about them. What if they didn’t like them, disagreed with what she was sharing? She was fearful about being judged. So she didn’t finish them, that way they weren’t ready to share.

9 essential insights to writing a great business book

If this sounds like you here are 9 tips to help you progress your half-written draft manuscript to a completed first draft.

I shared with her a couple of insights I’ve gained over the years of writing myself and coaching other business people through the process of writing their books, so I thought I’d share these with you

1. You are not alone.

Most business people want to write a book (about 85%) while only 1% actually do it. And it’s the fear of being judged by your peers that stops most. It’s this fear that stops most business people starting or worse, stops them finishing their first draft. IF this is you I’ve got some insights that might help.

2. There will be people who disagree with some of what you write, and that’s a good thing.

Most people want to write a book, and some have. Most don’t ever take that next step because they are fearful about the judgement of others, their peer group, business colleagues, family and friends.

While this may sound counter-intuitive the reality is no-one ever agrees with you all the time about everything.

Disagreement/negative responses (provided they are not rude and personal) are an opportunity for you to engage, have a discussion about your insights and perspectives and discuss the other person’s viewpoint. And that’s actually what you want, engagement.

3. Planning your book content and thinking about your target audience and their challenges will help you focus on what really matters.

Most business people have several years if not 2-3 decades of experience behind them. In fact they’ve made a business out of

their knowledge, experience and insights.  A book is just a tool for you to share this knowledge to a wider audience, more effectively. It’s how you can make a difference to more people.

Own your knowledge and experience.

Match up what parts of your knowledge help meet the challenges of your target audience. You can’t share all your knowledge so work out what your target audience most needs and give it to them.

4. Your first draft is just that.

As a professional business writer I usually work through 2-3 drafts before I get to a ‘final draft’ (which actually isn’t the final draft). If you haven’t written a book before be prepared to work through 4-6 drafts before you get to a point where you’ve got a ‘final draft’ that’s ready to share.

Your first and second drafts will take the longest, the next 2-3 are more refining and reworking.

5. Be brave, hit the SEND button

One of the hardest things to do is to stop revising and hit the send button to a small, select group of people who are going to review and comment on your ‘final draft’.

If you think about it though, if you’re fearful of sending your book to three people imagine how you’re going to feel when you’re out there promoting and selling your book to hundreds or thousands.

Sending your book to 3-5 people who have knowledge of your subject area and seeking real feedback is the first step to moving through your fear about sharing your book.

6. Be specific about the feedback you’re seeking

‘It was a good read’ is not the feedback you’re looking for. Be clear with those who are reviewing your book about the type of feedback you’re looking for, the timeframe you want to receive it and how you want to receive it. Depending on what your book is about, whether it has case studies, personal stories, who the audience is and the style of writing you have used, the feedback you are seeking will be different. Be as specific as you can. You are seeking feedback to get a fresh perspective on what you’ve written. Does the book flow, what was the best part, what was the worst? What did they take out of it, if anything? Would they recommend or not and why?

7. Review and revise your ‘final draft’.

Once you’ve received the feedback you need to decide what you’re going to action or not. You may well received contradictory feedback, so you’ll need to work out what you want to take on board and what you’ll leave aside. It’s your book, you make the call.

8. Engage a proofreader

Now you’ve got your ‘final, final draft’ you need to send it to a proofreader and provide them with a clear brief about what you want them to do. Another step along the getting over the fear of sharing your book pathway.

Don’t be shocked when you get your draft back and it’s a sea of red track changes. This is a good thing as it will make your manuscript grammar and punctuation perfect. Embrace the red!

9. Action the proofreader’s changes and resist the fear that it’s not perfect.

Once you’ve worked through the proofreader’s comments and taken another look at the final manuscript, STOP.

Resist the urge to rewrite, add in ‘that bit’ you missed. You’re on a slippery slope to never finishing if you do this.

If you’ve got more to say, store it up for your next book, blog posts, LinkedIn articles, your marketing programs and more.

And, if you’re doing an eBook version you can easily update it IF you really need to.

In summary:

Plan your content based on the key challenges of your target audience and from this plan your content outline and write to it.

Work through several drafts

Share your ‘final draft’ with a small group of people who have knowledge in your area and seek specific feedback

Take on board the feedback to refine/rework your manuscript

Engage a proofreader to review your manuscript

Be confident and sure about the knowledge and insights that you have to share and stay true to your purpose, this will see you through the moments of self doubt that you’ll have.

Email me if you get stuck or want some advice on any of the above. I’m a writer, I know what you’re going through.