Writing a book can be an extremely useful tool to help you promote your business or new start-up. Being a book author, immediately gives you kudos and extra authority, but only if your book is produced properly.
In most areas of business, winging it is rarely (if ever) a good idea. Each aspect of your business – be it recruitment, or marketing, or cash flow – requires a strong strategy. You need to know what you want to achieve before you can plan how that goal will be attained.
Publishing a book to support the growth of your business is no different. It may seem a bit more showbizzy – and it does involve a large amount of creativity – but it must never be a vanity project; there needs to be a valid business case for it.
Your publishing strategy should always begin by working out which book you should write. With that decided, consider the best way to publish it and determine how you are going to reach the right readers.
1. Decide what you want to achieve
The first thing to be clear about is your reason(s) for publishing a book. What are your motivations? What impact are you aiming for? These might be a combination of the following:
- To increase company brand visibility
- To raise your business’s media profile
- To build the credibility of the business owner
- To make a change in the world by sharing the vision of the business
- To tell the business story so that others may learn from it
- To position the book as a key product to create a passive income stream
- To laying claim to Intellectual Property thereby increasing the value of the business
- To leave a legacy
By deciding on the outcome at the beginning, you will save valuable time, and you will write the right book first time.
2. Identify your readers and their problems
Think about the book as a product. It needs to be designed, it needs to be crafted, and it needs to be manufactured. But it also needs a market.
The last 50 years is littered with products that flopped. The poor old Sinclair C5 is usually rolled out at these moments, but let’s leave Sir Clive alone, and ask do you own a pair of pizza scissors? Or laserdiscs? No.
Did you know that Cosmopolitan magazine launched its own yogurt? Or that American beer giant Coors had its own branded sparkling water? Both flopped. Cosmo readers just wanted a magazine, and Coors customers were happy with their beer.
So you need to ask: who is going to want to read your book and why? Don’t assume that everyone who’s ever bought a product or service from you is going to be a reader. It may be that you’re aiming for a completely different audience.
And don’t be afraid to aim at a small niche. My publishing company produced a book for a textile artist client. The book sold more than 25,000 copies (a handy new income) and it positioned the author as the go-to contact for the use of a particular craft fibre.
The tighter the niche, the easier it is to reach the right readers, which is why the most successful independently produced books tend to be aimed at small niches.
It’s also worth noting that almost all non-fiction books are problem-solving products. When determining which problems your book will solve, it can be useful to ask your existing customers how you can help them. This information will help you identify gaps your book could fill.
3. Check out the competition
There is little point covering the same ground as a dozen other authors. Avoiding this is simple: browse Amazon. Write down the key words you would choose for your book, and use these to search Amazon. As well as having a look at the books suggested by these key words, note the categories the result books appear in, and check the top 100 books in those categories (see the Product Details section).
At this point, it’s a good idea to do some reading, especially if you’re a new author. Search for all the current literature on your subject. In addition to boosting your own knowledge, if you like some of the material you read, you can use it in your book (remembering to cite the author), or you may want to argue against/debunk something you disagree with.
Points of differentiation in your content is what you’re looking for. Make the most of it in your book, and use this in your marketing material or in a proposal fto a publisher or to a literary agent.
4. Get help – work with an editor or a coach
You will have heard that writing in a solitary occupation. However, producing a book is not, and you should be aware that help is available at every stage, even at the beginning; many people find it extremely useful to work with a writing coach or an editor. These publishing industry professionals can help you set objectives, help clarify your target readership, help keep you on schedule, and provide feedback.
Working with an editor or a writing coach increases the likelihood of your manuscript needing much less work when it comes to production, which can mean lower editing expenses later on if you’re publishing independently, or a warmer reception from a publishing house commissioning editor.
5. Create a realistic schedule
It’s important to think about the time you’re going to allocate to writing and producing your book. Begin by taking a hard look at yourself and your other commitments.
Is there enough capacity in your diary to allow you to write during a normal working week? Are you willing to be out of bed an hour earlier to write? Are you happy to write in the evening and TiVo Game of Thrones? Or would you be better renting a blackhouse in the Hebrides for a fortnight?
After considering all of that you may decide that the three month schedule you’d originally planned needs to be six months, or twelve. But whatever date you set for your first draft to be completed, give yourself milestones along the way, remembering that you mustn’t beat yourself up if you slip up. Just shrug it off, get back on track, and get it done.
Finally, it may be that because of your other commitments, it isn’t realistic for you to write the book yourself. That doesn’t mean that your business can’t benefit from publishing a book. Just find someone else to write it for you.
For more insight and advice on writing a book to boost your business profile, you should also read;
- How to publish a book guaranteed to help build your small business
- Five ways publishing a book can help increase your start-up profits
About the author
This article has been written by ByteStart’s regular contributor, Sue Richardson. Sue is the founder of SRA Books, an independent publishing house working with non-fiction authors to publish professional, high-quality books. Find out more at SueRichardson.co.uk.
More help on promoting your business
Other ByteStart articles that will help you to promote your start-up or small business;
- 7 Brilliant branding tips for start-ups
- The 5 unbreakable rules of free publicity
- 21 killer ideas to get free publicity for your small business
- 7 clever copywriting secrets for business owners
- How to turn your customers into your best sales force
And these, will help you to make a splash online;
- Making your small business a big success online – A Digital marketing guide for small business owners
- 10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media
- Tweets that get you followed and your business noticed – How to build a loyal following, 140 characters at a time
- How to use Facebook to grow your small business
- Marketing your small business through YouTube – The 4 essential steps to success