Scott Hodge

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Writing Your First Business Book

Dec 21, 2006
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Ben McConnell from Church of the Customer Blog had some good thoughts for those interested in writing their first business book.  Some really great ideas here that I have heard reiterated from several of my author friends.  Thought it was worth reposting here….

"10 things about writing your first business book."

  1. Why exactly do you want to write a book?
    If you answered, "because people say I should," start over. Your book
    should have a clearly defined business purpose. You will jeopardize
    months of time, bundles of cash and quite possibly several
    relationships because the manuscript alone will grow into a voracious
    black hole that consumes all attention matter.

  2. Your book should be a magnet.
    Magnetism is art and science, based on your ability to discern an unmet need (the art) then create a compelling solution for it (the science).

  3. Be aspirational.
    Write a book that people want to read because it will improve their life, job, career or business. "Good to Great"
    is an aspirational book. It’s also an idea magnet. The title and
    concept are elegant and magnetic. Of course, author Jim Collins backed
    up his magnetic idea with buckets of research.

  4. First, spend 1-2 years building an audience.
    "Platform"
    is everything. A platform is the stage you have already created. It may
    be your successful entrepreneurialism, your noteworthy career as a
    muckety-muck at a famous company, your research as an academic, your
    work as consultant or analyst
    at an agency, your well-read blog or your quotability in the
    media. Or a combination of all of that. Platform is the primary
    criteria by which publishers will decide to buy your book. A publisher
    will rely on your platform for book sales, too.

  5. Fish in the ocean.
    Write a book for a market that’s the size of the ocean, such as
    entrepreneurs. Don’t write a book for a puddle, like a book on
    entrepreneurialism for teenagers. The trap many authors fall into is
    that they write a book for bayou markets. Bayous can stretch for miles,
    but they may be only a few inches deep. Big markets with very little
    need. The bigger the audience coupled with a big need, the better the
    sales potential.

  6. Book royalties won’t buy a BMW.
    If you land a book deal, your royalty rate of 15% means you’ll earn
    about $1.25 per book. That’s after the publisher recoups the advance
    money it paid you. Chances are, total annual royalties from your book
    will barely exceed the U.S. poverty level; the majority of busisness
    books don’t sell more than 25,000 copies. But if your book is a part of
    larger plan, the book should help grow other parts of your business
    where money is made.

  7. Invest heavily in your writing.
    If a book deal is imminent, or you’ve planned to self-publish, it’s
    time to write. Writing is editing. If you’re not
    a trained writer, invest in an editor or writing coach. Use your own
    money to hire an experienced editor. Don’t rely on the editors at your
    publisher. They have more projects on their plate than you do, so you
    must continue to be the CEO of your book. Write the book yourself, but
    rely on the editor to excise cliches, fix tired or stilted
    writing and force you to focus. Once readers are drawn in by the
    magnetism, great writing keeps them reading.

  8. Follow the six-month rule.
    The six months before publication are the most important marketing
    months for your book. Give as many galley copies of your book, a
    paperback-bound version of the manuscript, to friends, colleagues,
    thought leaders, bloggers, blog readers, media, or customers as you or
    your publisher can afford. (Number of galley copies printed can be a
    contract negotiating point.) Blog parts of your book during the
    six-month window. Building advance interest in your book or the subject
    is key to fueling word of mouth during the first month of its release.

  9. Invest heavily in your marketing.
    Rick Barrera, who wrote the Wall Street Journal bestseller "Overpromise and Overdeliver,"
    equates books to Doritos. It’s easy to share Doritos, and easy to make
    more, so give away a lot of books so more people will consume them. A
    book is the best business card imaginable to your business knowledge,
    so put that Dorito it into eager, outstretched hands. They’ll reward
    the favor.

  10. Seth Godin has 19 additional pieces of advice.
    He thinks you should spend three years building an audience before
    writing your first book, but some prolific, dedicated and well-versed
    bloggers have shown they can build vast audiences in about a year.

Link to Ben’s post.


One Response to “Writing Your First Business Book”

  1. I have met Ben and his business partner Jackie Huba and let me tell you, they are the coolest! They love to talk about this stuff and they dig when people get it. Check out their blog because there is other great stuff there.

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