Picture two experts or speakers who’ve each written a book for their business. However, one of them will command double the client and speaking fees of the other after it’s published.

Now imagine two different authors, one of whom will finish their book, while the other will give up in despair half way through.

And it usually happens that one gets rave reviews for their book, while the other’s book languishes in low-ranking Amazon hell.

Why is this?

Is it because the first is a better writer than the second? No.

Is it because the first is more skilled at their work than the second? Maybe, but probably not.

Is it because the first has more staying power than the second? Unlikely.

So what’s the reason?

It’s because the first author thought things through before they began. They got six essentials right before they typed a word. And these are the essentials I’m revealing to you in this series of blog posts.

This one deals with the first essential, which is:

Know what  you want to achieve with your book before you write a word

In this, I’m going to continue this analogy by telling you a tale of two authors.

The first, Bob, came up with a brilliant idea for his book. He runs a profitable and long-standing automotive business, and credits his success to the insightful marketing strategies he’s put in place. He’s also done a fair bit of academic research into marketing strategy, so he reckoned it would be a great idea to write a book aimed at business owners which drew from his practical experience and research combined.

He wasn’t sure exactly how he’d make money from the book, but predicted it would sell in large numbers and he’d earn a fair bit in royalties. He didn’t plan on turning himself into a marketing consultant or anything, he just wanted to pass on his knowledge and generate income from the book at the same time.

So what did he do next?

He dived into chapter one, and wrote every day for a few weeks. It was fun and challenging, but by the time he’d got to the end of chapter four he was running out of steam and his other business priorities began to take over.

That was two years ago. Today, his book still isn’t finished.

By way of contrast, let’s look at Sasha’s story. She knew exactly what she wanted to achieve with her book from day one. She runs a software company and has gained most of her clients through taking stands at trade shows and exhibitions. Her main challenge is getting the right prospects to visit her stand, so she planned to use her book to attract them along by sending targeted invites for a free, signed copy before the show.

The result was a clutch of exciting new client leads, many of which she’s turned into large sales already.

Her motivation to finish the book was therefore high, especially as she had a major new product launch deadline to reach. Her book was finished in six months.

What made the difference?

Sasha got her first book planning essential in place at the start, which was to establish what she wanted out of her book, both for her business and her readers.

Deciding which hoop to aim at

What could your goal for your book be?

It’s always a personal choice, but here are some of the reasons the coaches, experts, and speakers I work with give me for wanting to write a book:

  • To help their readers (naturally)
  • To position themselves as an expert
  • To gain speaking opportunities
  • To attract more (and better) clients
  • To establish themselves in a new niche
  • To get a burning topic off their chest
  • To build their email list
  • To sell their coaching or training programme
  • For the emotional satisfaction

Some people I speak to can feel a bit bad about wanting a book for ‘selfish’ reasons. I often have to winkle it out of them, after they’ve talked at length about helping people and leaving a legacy.

These are fine reasons to have a book, of course; your book must help people if it’s to achieve any of the other objectives. But bear this in mind: if you’re not honest with yourself why you want your book in the first place, you’ll be unlikely to

  • Know which readers to aim it at
  • Decide what to write about
  • Choose a unique angle or ‘take’ on your topic
  • Create an outline that works
  • Pick the right publishing option
  • Do the marketing that helps you achieve your objectives

Sasha knew she wasn’t going to make money on books sales, but that if she could give away copies of her book to selected potential clients she’d attract their attention. This would give her the chance to offer them a free consultation which could lead to a sale.

Bob, on the other hand, wasn’t quite sure why he was writing it apart from to earn royalties on the sales of his book. However, as we know, most business authors don’t get a return on their investment this way, but via the added value their book brings to their business.

It’s a bit like trying on outfits

If I were to go on a shopping spree and ask you to rate the outfits I’d bought, I’m sure I could rely on some honest opinions from you, couldn’t I?

You’d tell me if the colours suited me, or if the styles were flattering. Just as I could take a look at your book and judge if it reads well, and if the writing flows in a convincing way.

But if I was to ask you, ‘So, which outfit should I wear tomorrow?’ you’d naturally ask, ‘Well, what’s the occasion?’ And if I were to reply, ‘Hmm, not sure’, that would leave you a bit flummoxed, wouldn’t it?

It’s the same with your book. If you don’t know its purpose, how do you know if it’s fit for it, or whether you’d be better off spending the next year doing something that doesn’t involve long hours at the keyboard interspersed with all-too regular coffee breaks?

I reckon Sasha would have been able to say what her occasion was straightaway, wouldn’t you? I’m not so sure about Bob.

The alternative (and no so pleasant) scenario

So what happens if you don’t know what you want to achieve with your business book? If you’re a Bob, not a Sasha?

Here’s how it tends to roll:

  • Your book becomes all things to all people (and therefore appealing to none)
  • It has a confused message
  • You’ll feel disappointed by it
  • It won’t help the people you want to serve
  • You’ll be tempted to give up before you’re finished
  • People won’t read it (or not as many people as you’d like)

That’s what happened for Bob. He gave up part way through writing because he wasn’t really sure why he’d started in the first place.

And if he’d managed to publish his book, it wouldn’t have had the same pzazz and impact as Sasha’s.

Whereas Sasha is now busy inducting several lucrative new clients into her business. And planning her next book!

In my next post I’ll explain the second essential to get right before you write a word of your book.

Until then, you can do this simple task: decide the most important thing you want to achieve with your business book, and why.

Then write it down. Please. Don’t be a Bob.

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