You’re poised to sketch out a plan for your new business book. Maybe you have your laptop open, or possibly you’re a pen and paper sort of person.
You could even have your flip chart and post-it notes out (if so, full marks for enthusiasm).
But something’s stopping you. And that thing is making you feel insecure and small.
If you’re honest with yourself, you know what it is. You’ve been pushing it to the back of your mind, but now you’re actually making a start it’s looming front and centre like a forbidding parent.
‘There are so many books on my subject already, who would read yet another one by me?’
This is the most harmful myth about nonfiction books there is, because it stops so many potentially successful authors from raising their profile through writing one.
And I understand how you feel, because from a logical perspective it seems correct. It’s even one I subscribed to myself when I was planning my own book (although I should have known better).
If there are 50 books about recruitment/business planning/happiness (delete as appropriate) on the market already, why is there a need for one more? What’s the point?
But this, as you’re about to learn, is asking the wrong question. Let’s take a look at why.
Popularity is a necessity for business books
It’s easy to feel worried when you’re writing a book if you work in a crowded field.
However, this is not a reason for concern.
In fact, the thing that ought to worry you is if hardly anyone has written a book in your area before. Because that shows there’s probably not much demand for it. When you look at it like this, your competitors are actually your supporters.
For instance, a quick Amazon search throws up over 40,000 results for books on ‘leadership’. That might seem like stiff competition (and it is), but it also shows that there are lots of people interested in reading about the subject. This is a good thing.
Your task is to ensure your book has a unique angle on the topic so it offers its readers something special (more about this in a moment).
Of course, if your expertise is in an incredibly niche area you might find there are few books on it already. That might not be a problem, but you need to be sure there’s a large enough audience (that you can reach) to make writing a book worthwhile. If you don’t need to sell many copies to achieve your aims, that’s fine. Just think it through.
Cruise down the bread aisle
When I was on a video coaching call with a client recently, he said he was worried his book would be just one of many in his field. He then proceeded to show me the huge stack of books he’d read on it already.
‘Look!’ he said. ‘How will mine stand out?’
I paused for a moment. How could I put this?
‘But see,’ I replied.’ You’ve bought all those books and read them yourself.’
He laughed in recognition.
Ask yourself: ‘How many cookery books do I own?’ Or if you’re into a hobby like photography, ‘How many do I have on that?’ When we’re interested in a subject we always buy more than one book on it, because we know each gives a different perspective.
(In fact, a tweet I’ve regularly posted summarising this point always gets likes and retweets, so I know it strikes a chord).
Why not take a look at your own book shelves, or your e-reader? How many books have you bought on the same topics? I have over 50 on writing alone.
Another way to look at it is like this: the next time you visit the supermarket, take a note as you walk along the bread aisle. How many types of bread are there? White, wholemeal, artisan, sourdough, seeded, half & half, granary, spelt, rye, part-baked, focaccia, ciabatta, potato, soda, cholla, sliced, whole, rolls – the list goes on. Not to mention the choice of brands available.
Does anyone ever complain, ‘I wish we had fewer bread choices. Let’s cut it down to four’? I don’t think so.
The reason there are so many breads is so that there’s something for everyone. I love ciabatta but you wouldn’t catch me buying sourdough. Some are more popular than others – they’re the bestsellers. But the others still have their place on the shelves, just like your book will.
(Thanks to Yvonne Omini who gave me this bread aisle idea on LinkedIn).
Your business book has its own gold
I talked about competition earlier. It’s true, you do need to take account of what other people have written so you can ensure you’re offering something different.
The key to this, though, is to focus on ‘different’ not necessarily ‘standout’. Because if what you write is true to you and your knowledge, skills, and experience, it will automatically stand out. You don’t have to try.
Your book also needs to have what I call ‘gold’ in it – a central nugget that makes it irresistible to your readers. Because readers don’t buy business books, self-improvement guides, or thought-leading titles, they buy solutions which encourage them to feel good.
Even if your book advocates they do some hard work to get there, they’ll be happy with that if they know there’s one golden reason for buying it. It may be to learn something important. It may be to make their business more profitable. Heck, it may be just to make life easier.
You need to know your gold, and this post will help you learn how: 5 ways to find the gold in your business book.
It’s not often that something you thought was an unsurmountable barrier to creating a great achievement turns out to be a myth, is it? But I hope you can see that’s all it is. There should be nothing stopping you now.
The world is waiting for your book. Don’t let the so-called ‘competition’ hold you back.
I’d like to thank @Willisbushcraft for asking for this post – sometimes we don’t realise the value of what we know until someone tells us.