As an established coach, expert or speaker, you want your new business book to be the one everyone raves about. The one people recommend to their friends, that brings new clients and speaking opportunities to you, and that gets all the fabulous five star Amazon reviews.
You’ve read somewhere you need to have a book outline, so you start off by creating one. Which isn’t a bad place to start (it’s certainly a lot better than launching into writing the chapters).
But I’m going to ask you something that will surprise you. If you start your book by creating your content outline, how do you know what to include?
This isn’t a trick question. Your fabulous, readable, persuasive and helpful book isn’t simply a vessel for all your knowledge and experience – much as you might like it to be. Just think, if you were to write that kind of book, you would be making the assumption your readers are willing to wade through all the information you’ve given them in order to pick out what’s relevant for them. I think you’ll find they’re a bit too busy to bother.
‘So where do I start, then?’ you ask. I’m so glad you did – read on.
The place we learned to write long form content was at school and university, where we wrote essays. And those essays all had two things in common:
- They were designed to show off our knowledge, not to help anyone actually do anything
- Our teachers had to read them, so we didn’t have to entice anyone in
You don’t need me to tell you you’re not at school anymore, but it’s funny how those old habits and assumptions linger on. Now you need to transition from student to business writer!
This isn’t a post about writing, but it is a post about planning your content. And that starts with knowing your readers have a problem they need solving, and they also have choice about buying and reading your book.
There are three steps you need to take in order to turn yourself into the author of a popular and engaging business book:
1. Know your business book readers
Where are they now (mentally and emotionally)? What do they think they want to know? To answer these questions, you need to gain an in depth understanding of who they are – otherwise, how you can you create the book they want to read?
You should know them inside out. It helps if they’re similar to your existing client base – that way, you understand their problems and their relationship with the world. Try and choose someone you actually know as an example reader: what are they like as a person, how old are they, male or female, what kind of home life do they have, what do they do for a living?
If you don’t know this stuff your book won’t make sense for them. It’ll be like them reading a copy of the Telegraph when they’re a loyal Sun fan at heart – they won’t be interested in your content or the way you’re putting it across.
2. What’s the question?
Your readers have a problem – a big one.
So once you’ve pinned down who you’re writing for, ask yourself what their big question about life or business is: the one you can answer. What are they asking for? What story are they telling themselves about the world, which means they’re stuck right now? What myths can you debunk, so their lives are easier?
This is what they’re looking for a book about. You may feel you look knowledgeable and helpful by throwing all you know at a vague audience of people who are interested in your kind of service, but I can guarantee you it won’t be read or appreciated.
3. Pick ‘n’ mix
Have you ever wandered over to the pick ‘n’ mix counter and fancied scooping the whole lot up? It takes some self restraint to choose your favourites (well, that and the exorbitant price they always seem to charge).
It’s the same with your business book content outline. Now you know who you’re writing for, and what the big question is that they want answering, you can plan how you can be choosy with your content. This is how you really help people – not by telling them everything you know, but by picking out the bits they will find most useful and engaging.
Once you’ve done that, you’re well on your way to creating a book that will be read and recommended time and again.
If this post has provoked a re-think on your book ideas, congratulations. And if you want the full guide on how to go about this process, my e-book The Business Book Outline Builder takes you through it in five simple steps. You can see it here – I wrote it just for you :)