Since the present unpleasantness (my new favorite way of referring to COVID-19) began, I’ve had a number of conversations with professionals thinking about writing a business book or hiring me for book ghostwriting. This makes sense because many of my clients, for better or worse, have seen a reduction in their work loads during the past couple of months.
When work slows down or when we find ourselves with more time because we aren’t going so many places or over-scheduling ourselves into oblivion, we naturally turn to more creative pursuits. And in business, this translates to business or personal development activities.
Obviously, the above doesn’t apply to everyone. But this is what I’m experiencing in my little corner of the universe.
My constant mantra is one of gratitude:
- Each time I’m reminded I can do ALL of my work from home.
- Each time I’m reminded I don’t have kids and I do have a husband who makes me breakfast every damn day. (Except for Sundays. I make pancakes on Sundays.)
- Each time I go to the store and don’t even think about the price of goatcheese.
And I’m especially grateful for each conversation I’ve had with really reflective people asking really smart questions about writing a book and ghostwriting. So, I want to address one common question that I get.
Question: What is the value of writing a business book?
As with a lot of questions, there is a short answer and a longer answer. The short answer is that writing a book can do a lot as a marketing piece for your business and for your personal brand.
Being a published author:
- Increases brand awareness and builds your audience.
- Sets you up as the go-to expert in your industry.
- Helps you gain credibility as a thought leader outside of your industry.
- Gives you a broader platform from which to serve your clients.
- Opens up opportunities for media appearances and other PR.
But the catch is that your book won’t do these things for you unless you consider the longer answer to this question and focus on using your business book to produce the ROI you want. To answer this question for yourself, you need to think about what your book will do for your brand.
Ever since Simon Sinek published his book Start with Why and his 20-minute TED Talk went viral in 2009, branding and marketing have been defined by the concept of starting with your big “WHY.”
The basic idea is this: Great leaders and companies inspire action, they don’t simply sell products or services. You’re not successful because of what you sell. You’re successful because of your unique story and what drives you to solve others’ problems.
So, if you want to know what writing a business book will do for your business, you need to think carefully about how it connects to your big “WHY.”
This sounds fairly simple. In fact, most of the prospective clients I talk to decide to write a book after thinking hard about their brand and wanting to get the word out to more people about their unique system or to tell their story. However, it’s perhaps more accurate to say that writing a business book that connects to your big “WHY” is deceptively simple.
Yes, you need to understand where your book fits into your broader brand, which means if your brand is “muddy,” your book content will be “muddy.” It also means (warning: unpopular opinion to follow) if you’re new to business or only a few years into your career or haven’t taken the time to develop your “personal brand,” writing a book should not be the next thing on your to-do list.
Like most people (but unlike many philosophers), I get self-conscious when I offer unpopular opinions and I hate to be the one raining on anyone’s parade, but if you write your book without first taking a close look at your brand, not only will the book be harder to write and the content will suffer, it will be less valuable to you in the long run. So, do yourself a favor and work on your brand first (#sorrynotsorry).
What’s Your Book’s Big “WHY?”
If you are comfortable with your brand (and I’ll admit, it has taken me a good 4 years to get comfortable with my personal brand), then you’re ready to dig deeper and think seriously about your book idea.
In the planning questionnaire form I send to new clients, I encourage them to ask themselves, “What’s my book’s big ‘WHY?’” Answering this question is important because writing a business book can be a slog. Even if you take my advice and write that book in 90 days, you will get stuck and feel discouraged in the moment. And being reminded of your book’s “WHY” can help you push through.
So, what’s your book’s big “WHY?”
Hint: it’s not about making money. Think about the core purpose of writing your book. What transformation do you expect your readers to experience?
Example: Suppose your book helps executives decide on their legacies and build their way toward that vision. This is a transformational “WHY” statement and it’s much more compelling than thinking about how this book will drive more traffic to your LinkedIn profile.
You can figure this out for yourself the same way you figured out your brand: by writing down the pain points of your target readers. Write down their point A (i.e., where they are now) and their point B (i.e., where they will be after reading your book).
Then, you need to figure out how exactly your book will help them to get there and use all of these ideas to talk about your book. As Sinek has found, having loyal customers (or readers) is all about attracting the people who share your fundamental beliefs. Remember: Understanding the “WHY” is essential to knowing how to communicate the “how” and “what.”
Answering the above questions will help you both recognize the value of writing your business book and communicate it to your ideal readers.
Let me leave you with this final thought: the value of writing a business book is essentially up to you. Just as having a brand is meaningless if people can’t see the value in the brand, having a book is meaningless if people can’t see the value in the book. The good news is that you can do a lot to shape what they see. If you want help getting started, I’m happy to jump on a call with you to talk through your idea. All you have to do is shoot me an email or fill out this contact form. There are no strings attached, but I might offer you one of my unpopular opinions (you’ve been warned).
Photo Credit: kantver