So many writers get inspired for an idea for a book, so they jump in and start writing. I’m all about working off of inspiration, and if you have something to say, by all means, get those words on the page! But, I do think that when it comes to writing a book, it’s smart to do some planning before you get too far into your project. This is particularly true if you’re writing a book that you plan to leverage to grow your business.
Before you even start on the outline for your book, you should do some thinking and planning. Just like a plumber would never start installing pipes without seeing a blueprint for a house, you need to have the right vision for your book if you want it to be successful. And, you really need to do some careful planning if you want that book to build your business.
In this episode, I’m telling you all about the number one thing you need to know about your business-building book. Specifically, I’m going to help you formulate the right vision for your book so it has the biggest impact on your business. Doing this work will help you write a better book, and it will help you make sure you’re not wasting your time writing the wrong book for your business.
THE RISK OF FAILING TO PLAN
I want to start by talking about what happens if you don’t do any higher-level planning before you start in on your business-building book. Unfortunately, I’ve seen authors do this, and they wind up wasting a lot of time producing a book that isn’t the best book to build their business. Their books might sell a few copies around launch, but ultimately they fail to make a splash…or any real impact on the author’s business.
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I see this happen most often when people decide to write a book, any book. They only focus on being able to say, “I’m an author!” instead of being strategic about the book they write. They wind up writing a book that’s not the right fit for their business, or even a book that’s totally off topic. Sure, they can put “author” on their business cards, but that book doesn’t really do anything to build their business.
Here’s an example: I saw a post on social media from a woman who had decided to write an eBook. She mentioned she was an online business manager and specialized in helping other entrepreneurs run their businesses efficiently. But, she had decided to write her eBook on overcoming childhood trauma, something she had personal experience with. Yes, it was a topic that she was intimately familiar with and she was passionate about it, too. But is that book going to build her business? Probably not.
What happens if she spends months writing that book? What happens if she puts off doing things for her business or even herself to write? Or, what happens if she decides to hire a graphic designer to help make the book, or an editor to look over what she’s written? What’s her return on investment? If that book isn’t driving new clients to her business, it might not be very good.
Also, what is she telling her audience by saying that she’s an expert in business management but she publishes a book on childhood trauma? Books show people that you’re an expert on a particular topic. They’re amazing at establishing authority and credibility. So, by writing that book, she’s potentially confusing her audience. Is she an expert in business or trauma? Or worse, could she turn off some clients because they think her attention is spread in too many areas?
And, books don’t promote themselves. So, if she wants her eBook to be a success, she’s going to have to promote it. She’ll need to talk about it often. She’ll need to emphasize pain points that her book will solve and talk about those pain points in detail. That’s also going to be really confusing to people who are following her for business management advice. At best, it could make her seem scattered. At worst, it could make her seem undedicated and unprofessional.
This is the danger of not planning your book properly. I’m not saying that you can’t ever write a book that’s not related to your business. But, I do think that you should be strategic. If you’re going to put time and effort into writing a book, you’re going to see the greatest ROI if you directly relate that book to your business. You’ll see an even greater ROI if you can use that book to bring you new leads and clients.
Planning is important because it makes the time and money invested in your book worth it. When you ask the right questions and have the right book strategy, you’ll see tremendous results for what you put into the project.
So, how do you create that plan?
That brings us to…
THE #1 THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS-BUILDING BOOK
When you’re planning your business-building book, there’s one big question you MUST ask:
“What is the purpose of my book?”
To be strategic about your book, you really need to know why you’re writing your book. I strongly encourage you to go deeper than “because I’ve always wanted to write a book!” Yes, checking an item off your bucket list is great. But my guess is that if you’re listening to this, you have a lot of things on your plate. That means you probably have better ways to spend your time writing a book “because it will be fun.”
Also, as an aside, “because it will be fun” doesn’t keep you motivated to finish your book. The minute writing your book becomes no fun (which I promise it will at some point), you’re going to stop writing. There is no bigger waste of time than writing part of a book that never sees the light of day. I don’t think you want to be stuck in that position.
Just like you need to be solid on your “why” to build a successful business, you really need to know why you’re writing your book. What purpose is it serving for you, personally? What purpose will your book serve for your business? And, what purpose will your book serve for your readers and clients? The answers to these questions will give you the vision you need to write a successful business-building book. And, they’re going to help keep you motivated, too. When you don’t feel like writing, you’ll come back to that “why” and find the push you need to get back to your manuscript. Your “why” will help you continue to make your book a priority as you live your busy life. Your “why” is what finishes your book and makes it a reality.
So, how do you create a vision for your book? How do you really dig in and find the purpose your book serves? There are two major questions you need to think about (and I just hinted at them). Let’s take a closer look at those questions.
HOW DOES YOUR BOOK FIT INTO YOUR VISION FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
A lot of author-entrepreneurs skip over this step, which I think is a big, big mistake. If you want to write a book that’s going to help you build your business, you need to understand how that book fits into your business. If you don’t, you could wind up writing a book that ultimately does nothing for your business, which can be a huge waste of time and resources. I know you’re busy and you don’t have time to waste, so take a few minutes to do some planning before you get too deep into writing your book.
First, you need to have an overall vision for your business as a whole. That’s something I don’t want to get into in this episode, mostly because that’s a huge can of worms to open. People can spend days, weeks, or longer planning out their vision or mission for their business. That’s definitely beyond the scope of this episode (and outside of my expertise, too).
For the purpose of your book, I think there are a few important questions that you should be able to answer about your book. Those questions are:
- What do you want to be known for?
- Who do you want to help?
- How do you want to help them? (What products or services will you offer?)
Let’s dig into each of these questions a little deeper.
What do you want to be known for?
Think back to the example I gave you at the beginning of the episode, the online business manager who wanted to write an eBook about overcoming childhood trauma. If she really wants to make a name for herself as an excellent OBM and business strategist, she should write a book on business management and strategy. A book on childhood trauma is just distracting at best. And, as I mentioned before, it’s probably not the best use of her time.
Your book shows off your expertise. It shows the world you’re a thought leader in that niche. So, make sure you know what niche you want to specialize in. Go as deep as you can. For example, writing a book that’s broadly about business strategy may not be as effective as you want it to be. There are a lot of books already out there in that niche, and it doesn’t help you stand out as a true thought leader in one particular area.
You’re far better off finding a more specific niche that you’re passionate about serving. Our example author might decide that she wants to be known as the go-to expert for women who are trying to grow their business while being a member of the sandwich generation. That allows her to address specific problems that audience has. In turn, she becomes the instant expert women in that position go to when they need help with their business, and her book becomes the go-to book for those women.
Get solid on your niche, and make sure your book relates to that niche. If you do, your book is going to do much more for your business than if you didn’t have that vision.
Who do you want to help?
This ties into the first question, but it’s incredibly important to spend time thinking about your ideal client for your business and your ideal reader for your book. You need to know their struggles intimately, inside and out. You need to know what they’re thinking and where they’re getting stuck. The books that are the most effective business builders are laser-focused on solving the problems of their audience.
How do you want to help them?
This question directly ties to your business. How are you going to help your ideal client or customer solve their problems? Will you offer one-on-one coaching services? Sell courses? Offer in-person workshops? You probably already have this in place for your business, but if you haven’t, I’d take a few minutes to envision what your ideal business would look like so you can incorporate that vision into your book plan.
How does this factor into writing a successful business-building book? It helps you plan out how you can use your book to bring more clients and customers into your business. For example, if you focus on one-on-one coaching, you can write a book that prepares a reader to be ready and eager to sign up for your coaching services. You can get clients used to how you work and warm them up so that by the end of your book, they’re dying to work with you.
When you know how your business is structured and who you want to serve, it’s easier to create a vision for how your book can help you grow that business.
HOW WILL YOUR BOOK HELP YOUR READERS?
It’s also very important to understand how your book is going to improve the lives of your readers. Almost all business-building books teach the reader to make some sort of positive change or transformation in their lives, whether you’re writing a how-to book, a self-help book, a cookbook, or even an inspirational memoir. If your book isn’t helping your reader get somewhere they want to go, you’re not showing them that they should give you money to solve their problems.
If you haven’t done so already, the first thing you need to do is figure out who your ideal reader is. I go into this in depth in Episode 3 of the Blogger to Author Podcast, “The Basics of Creating a Reader Avatar.” The good news is that you’ve probably already created an avatar of your ideal client for your business. If you’re writing a business-building book, your ideal reader for your book is likely going to be the same person as your ideal client, or maybe someone who’s a step or two in front of your ideal client.
The reason why it’s so important to know your ideal reader is you need to know where they’re coming from if you’re going to write a good book. If you don’t know where they’re starting from, you’re going to struggle to figure out the content that needs to go into your book.
For example, if I’m writing a book that helps women over 40 start a yoga practice, I need to know why they haven’t done so on their own. What’s holding them back from starting? I also need to know if they’ve tried yoga before, or if they’re starting from scratch. My book will be very different if I write it for a complete newbie vs. a woman who had a yoga practice before she had kids and now she’d like to get back into it. Depending on my exact reader avatar, I may or may not have to explain certain terms. I might need to focus more or less on mindset or finding time to practice yoga. Ultimately, my book is going to be better when I focus in on one avatar instead of trying to please everybody because that book will wind up being the perfect book that my reader needed.
Once you know who your reader is, you’ll be able to figure out where they want to be. What change do they want to make that you’re going to help them with? What do they want to achieve, and how will you help them? Get solid on the transformation that your book will bring to your reader. That will help you plan out what information needs to go in your book, and it will help you market your book down the road, too.
TIE IT ALL TOGETHER
And, (very important,) make sure you think about how your reader’s transformation ties into your business. If one of the goals for your book is to turn readers into eager clients, you need to make sure your book prepares them to work with you. It’s part mindset, part trust building. Give your reader wins and help them get closer to that goal. Help them understand that to take the final step, they’ll need the extra guidance they’ll receive from your course or coaching program or service (or whatever it is you do).
When you merge your vision for your reader with your vision for your business, you’ll create an idea and a plan for an effective business-building book. Fail to look at both aspects of your vision, and your book won’t do as much for your business as it could have. So, make sure you take a little time (even just 20 or 30 minutes) and think about how your book is going to build your business and help your reader. I promise, a little planning now is going to help you create a much better book later.
If you give this vision-building process a try and you get stuck, I can help. I have several different kinds of strategy sessions that can help, based on your individual needs. I’ll sit down with you and help you work through any areas where you might be getting stuck. Sometimes you need an outside perspective to help you get clarity, and that’s okay! It’s often some of the best time and money spent on your book, and it will have a huge impact on the quality of the book you produce. Learn more about my strategy sessions and how I can help on my services page.
Also, make sure you’ve subscribed to the podcast so you don’t miss my next episode, “The 3 Steps You Must Take to Write a Great Nonfiction Book.” I’m going to walk you through the heart and soul of my Fast Author Framework™ so you can outline a truly phenomenal book that builds your business. You’re definitely going to want to listen to this one!
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