Writing a book can help your business if you follow a few rules. I’ve encountered a lot of consultants, ghost writers, editors, and marketers who swear by book publishing. Additionally, I’ve read a lot of the books that have come out of these recommendations. Taking all that into account, I’ve drafted a few simple rules for you to follow. Without following these rules, writing and publishing a book will actually hurt your business.
Useful for Your Target Audience
Firstly, your book is going to need to be useful for your target audience. What does this mean? Well, first you need to figure out who your target audience is. For example, I have a book “Starting Your North Carolina LLC“. My audience there was small business founders who either (1) didn’t want to hire a lawyer, (2) were going to DIY the LLC formation anyway, or (3) couldn’t afford a lawyer. My goal with this book was not to gain clients.
On the other hand, my book “Answers From Inside” gave a cursory explanation of many of the most commonly asked questions small business owners had. My target audience is small business owners, and the goal is to gain more customers who have needs above and beyond what the book can provide.
Once you know your target audience, you need to create content that is useful for them. Hypothetically speaking, if your target audience is potential massage therapy customers, you could write a book about the benefits of massage and the different types that exist. The book obviously doesn’t provide them with a massage, but it increases their knowledge so they can be equipped to know what type of massage they need.
Writing a book is 20% writing and 80% editing. If you hate editing, you should hire that out or not write a book at all. I make it a point to read other books put out by local small business owners. Because of that, I’ve unfortunately read a lot of really bad books.
You can get away with a lot of typos in your blogs or social media posts, but a book is more permanent. People have higher expectations for books, even ebooks. Because expectations are high, when you have glaring typos, people lose confidence in you. Does that mean all of my own books are typo free? Absolutely not. I’ve gone through my books dozens of times and each one had additional editors. Even after all that, I still find typos.
The problem is when there are obvious or a large quantity of typos. For example, I read a book by a local fractional CFO where there were at least 5 typos on the first page and the guy even had his name spelled wrong. Two of the letters in his name were switched. It was a mistake we’ve all made, but you have to fix them before you publish. To me, that just meant he did sloppy work. It would have been better if he didn’t have a book at all.
Keep It Short
You’re not Stephen Covey, so you shouldn’t write like him. He’s allowed to dive deeper into statistics, provide lengthy examples, and include a thousand anecdotes. He can do this because he’s a phenomenal writer and a proven expert. You and I? We have a lot of proving to do first.
Not every book has to be longer than 50,000 words. In fact, I challenge you to cut at least half of your book after the first draft. My book “Check Mark Startup” started out over 150,000 words. Now it is just over 60,000, which is still quite lengthy for an amateur business book!
Additionally, you want your book to be shorter for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the shorter the book, the less likely there is to be full of mistakes. Secondly, someone who reads your book is probably reading a lot of similar books. Don’t waste their time or they won’t finish your book. Finally, good books make the reader wish there was more there to read. I’m not saying leave a cliffhanger. What I’m saying is don’t write until the reader gets bored. Write until they’ve gotten a lot out of it and then end it.
Does Writing a Book Help My Business?
If you’ve followed these rules, yes, writing a book will help your business. Depending on your goals, you may end up as a subject matter expert, increase your sales, or gain a little passive income.
If you’re going to write a book, what’s a takeaway you gained and how are you going to implement it?