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This is a post about how to elevate your business book to award-winning standard. Even if it doesn’t look like it at first (you’re going to have to trust me on that). And even if you’ve got no desire to enter it for an award (because it still needs to be good enough to win one).

A while back, my family and I found ourselves at a loose end on a Saturday night, so the kids chose a movie on Amazon called The Cobbler.

To be honest, it was pretty lame but the kids loved it. The plot is simple. A frustrated shoe repair guy discovers a magical sewing machine. Then he learns it gives him the power to experience his customers’ lives first hand when he (you guessed it) steps into their shoes. As you can imagine, all sorts of fun and games ensue.

OK, so the film wasn’t an Oscar contender (or as we say in the UK, it was a load of old cobblers – boom, tish), but you can see how powerful the premise is. Aren’t we all curious to experience what it’s truly like to be someone else? Even just for one day?

I got the chance to do exactly that, when I worked as part of a team of judges at the Business Book Awards. Pretty much all the entries were of superb quality, and it was incredibly hard to pick the best. My heart broke a little each time I had to put someone onto the ‘non shortlist’ pile.

But let me explain how it revealed to me the secrets of success in the publishing world, and what you can learn from this for your own business book.

The secrets of making your business book a publishing success

Like in any judging process, we had a lot of books to shortlist in a relatively short space of time. That meant that, even though I gave each book proper consideration, I had to make a series of quick decisions. Not for me the luxury of pondering on what the author meant by a certain paragraph, or if they really knew more than they were letting on in Chapter 3.

If it wasn’t clear up front, too bad – on to the next one. This judge had no time to waste!

The funny thing is, I thought I knew what it was like to be in the firing line. After all, I write book proposals for agents and publishers who are just as time-pressed as I was. But by stepping into the shoes of that same publisher (or reader who’s deciding whether to buy a book) I found out what it was like first-hand.

Want to know how to impress a publisher or a business reader?

If you’re wanting a traditional publishing deal, or even just for lots of readers to buy your book (and who doesn’t), let me tell you what it’s like for these people:

  • If your book doesn’t make it clear up-front who it’s for and what makes it special, interesting and unique, they won’t go for it.
  • If your book doesn’t explain from the beginning why people should read it, exactly what they’ll learn, and why you’re the best person to tell them, they won’t go for it. (Note: this isn’t the same as saying what the book’s about or why you wrote it).
  • If your content is unengaging, uninspiring, difficult to understand, or poorly structured, they won’t go for it.
  • If the cover design and print quality scream ‘amateur’, you guessed it, they won’t go for it.

Sounds tough, doesn’t it? It is, but I don’t make the rules. We all do, as readers. And it’s up to you as an author to live up to them.

If this feels a bit daunting, you’re not alone. I’m here to help. Why not apply for a free half hour strategy session, and I’ll get your clear on your business book’s next step? After all, we both want it to be a winner.

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