When I meet people and tell them what I do for a living, a not uncommon response is, ‘I’m going to write a book one day.’
‘Sure,’ I reply, ‘I’ll read your book while I’m flying solo around the world in the aeroplane I built out of icy-pole sticks.’ The dream of writing a book is common; the discipline, energy and effort required less so.
One of the biggest hurdles is that most people don’t know where to start. In a series of three articles, I’m going to show you how to find the right idea for a book for your small business, develop your plan for writing it, and then actually do the bit that allows you to call yourself a writer. (No, not looking constantly rumpled and drinking red wine at 11 o’clock in the morning – although both of those are fun.)
Odds are you’re not Shakespeare, but you don’t have to be to write a good book for your business. You require good knowledge of your subject, enough language skills to read this article, and the stubbornness to stay at your keyboard if somebody offers you free pizza. A good editor will take you the rest of the way.
The questions you must answer
Who are your target readers? Authors get this wrong all the time. On page 11 the book seems to be aimed at the author’s peers in their industry, and on page 43 they seem to be addressing their clients. And on page 89 it mysteriously morphs into a romance novel for a few pages. Your book can only have one target readership. Figure out who it is and stick to it. (Don’t be mistaken though – plenty of people outside your main market will also find your book useful. But, when you are writing it you must have a single target readership in mind.)
Why are you writing the book? To gain publicity for your business? To send to potential clients? To connect with industry leaders? To gain traction in a new market? There are all sorts of reasons to write and publish a book for your small business, and you might have a number of different goals. What matters is that you give it some thought.
What will you write about? It’s a good idea to answer the above questions before you come up with a specific topic for your book. Consider what your target readers will be most interested in, and what topics would be most likely to attract them to your business after they have read the book.
Do you know enough to write a book about this topic? I’m always surprised when people worry about this. If you’ve been working in an industry for a few years you will usually know enough to write an authoritative book. You just need to know how to structure the content (which will be the next article in this series). I think people’s real concern is often not that they don’t know what to write about but whether people will want to read it.
What type of book will it be? You could write:
- A how-to book: 12 Steps to Making Sure your Floorboards are Perfectly Straight.
- A history book: Floorboards Since 1862.
- A thought leadership book: Why Crooked Floorboards Are No Longer OK.
- A memoir: A Parallel Universe: How and why I dedicated my life to Straight Floorboards.
- A personal success book: How I Became Australia’s Foremost Floorboard Expert.
Answering these questions will be a good starting point to help you develop your book idea for your small business. In the next article I’m going to show you how to develop the structure of your book, so you have a few weeks to answer the above questions and come up with a topic.
So, why are you still here?