It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single business author in possession of a large amount of book sales must have some kind of secret (with apologies to Jane Austen).
Like all aphorisms this contains a kernel of truth, but there’s more to it than that. Because so much of what makes a book successful goes on behind the scenes. So how can you know what to do to make your book a success?
If only there was a way of peeking behind the curtain, to see what goes on in an author’s world in the months before their book takes off like a rocket. What do they do to make it work? How do they prepare themselves?
I’ve worked with countless authors as a business book ghostwriter and book coach. This means I’ve witnessed what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly I’ve learned there are five secrets not one. These are the things successful business authors do that make the difference between their book being a cash and reputation-enhancing machine and a disappointing flop.
Let’s dive into what those people do.
1. They stick to their knitting
A business book isn’t about the cash, it’s about the caché. In other words, it’s not the sales of the book that give you your payback, it’s the way the book enhances your reputation and gives you an ‘in’ to the people you want to work with.
That means for you to get the best bang for your buck from your book it has to support the business and experience you’ve already got. Not the one you’re planning on having, or the one you know a bit about (but it’s not your main thing). In other words, it makes sense for your business expertise and book content to dovetail together in a seamless join. Does yours?
If you’re not sure, download my free flowchart: Picking the Killer Idea for Your Business Book.
2. They do their thinking up front
What do you want to achieve with your book?
Who’s it for?
What big question are you answering in it, and why would your readers care?
What makes your book different from all the others on the same topic?
Authors of successful books know this stuff before they begin. That means they’re well placed to create a book that answers a genuine need and brings them the business they want.
One way to judge if you’re prepared is to see if you can easily fill in the blanks:
I want to help ___________________ (your target readers) to____________________ (your expertise) so I can _______________ (your book’s objective).
Once you’ve done that, you can use this as your book’s mantra.
3. They focus on the real outcome
How do you see your book giving you the results you want? This is a deceptively simple question.
Is it through becoming a best seller? Possibly (and see this post about why that’s not always a good idea).
Is it by using it as a business card to get your foot in the door to see new and better clients? That’s likely.
Or is it through using it to enhance your personal brand so you instantly become more credible when you call yourself ‘Author of …’. This is more than possible.
These are only three ways your book can deliver for you, but if you don’t know what you’re after before you begin you might end up with a result you don’t want. Successful authors make sure this doesn’t happen by keeping their real goal in mind all the way through.
4. They stop writing and start marketing
The success of your book will be largely dependent on how strong a marketing platform you have. That means building up your social profile and email list well before you launch, because these things take time.
For authors who’ve used their business books to build their brands, the day they typed the first word was the day they also started ramping up their social media and marketing activity. This is the opposite of what many authors do, which is to put the marketing off until they’ve finished their books.
Writing and marketing your book go hand in hand, so if you’re not sure how you’re going to sell and promote your book then stop writing and start marketing right now.
5. They don’t do everything themselves
Although becoming an author looks like a single-handed job, it’s far from it. Even when you’ve finished doing the writing you’ll be reliant on the expertise of editors and publishers to get it out into the world.
But what if you’re struggling to find the time and focus to type your manuscript before you’ve even got to that point? That’s where a ghostwriter or book coach can come in.
The most notable authors approach the creation of their books the same way they’ve achieved success with the rest of their business – they delegate. Nobody’s good at everything, and we none of us have unlimited time.
In my experience, successful business authors are successful business people. They take the lessons they’ve learned from running their companies to writing and promoting their book, bringing in expertise to achieve a better result than they could have done on their own.
So practising a little detachment from the project, so you can allow others in to help, can work wonders.
These five essential things successful authors do differently aren’t rocket science, but they’re elements many people forget. I’ve seen with my own eyes how they work, and can guarantee that if you do them yourself you’ll be well on your way to writing the book that transforms your business.