Whenever I speak to a ghostwriting prospect, one of my first questions is always “how do you see your book fitting into your business plan?” In other words, “what’s the business case for writing a book?”
This is an important question for all authors to ask, but it’s especially important if you’re writing a personal development or business development book. Sure, sure, you feel like you have a book inside of you or others have told you you have a book inside of you. That’s great!
I’m grateful that those feelings led you to call me. But those feelings aren’t going to make the sweat and tears (and hopefully, very little blood) of writing a business book worth it.
Let me repeat: feeling good about having completed your book isn’t going to make writing it worth it.
If you want to write a book and your main motivation is that you think you’re a good writer or you want to be able to say you’re a published author, take some time to explore the deeper desires behind those thoughts.
- What does being a good writer mean to you?
- What do you expect to gain from publishing a good book?
- What about saying you’re a published author appeals to you?
Having good answers to these questions will give you a head start on answering my original question. If business-y concerns don’t start to creep into your answers, here, writing a business book is probably a waste of your time. Sorry if these are hard words to hear.
Once you have some idea about the business case for writing your book, leap into some further research (or contact me and I’ll help you answer the rest of the important questions). Whatever you do, if you do decide to embark on writing your book, make sure you go into it armed with all the information you need to make the best decision.
All caveats aside, building a fabulous personal brand is a perfectly valid reason to write a business or personal development book. So let’s talk about how to make it work!
1. Figure Out Who You Are
If there’s a universal truth I see applying to all of the authors I work with, it’s this: they all learn more about themselves in the course of writing their books. Whether you’re a D.I.Y. author writing your sixth book or a brand new author working with me on a ghostwriting project, you will experience a transformation while writing your book.
Your book is a reflection of your personal and professional identity at a particular moment in time. To write a book, you’ve got to ask yourself hundreds of questions:
- What is my greatest idea?
- How can I help others to wrap their minds around this complex concept?
- What are the steps I follow every day as I implement this project for my clients? How can I translate these steps into book form?
- What are the “breadcrumbs” I need to leave to give my readers the full picture?
- What do I need to do to get this book finished?
In the process of writing, publishing, and promoting a book, you’ll learn more than you ever thought possible. It would be odd, indeed, if you didn’t also figure out who you are in the process.
Now, figuring out who you are in and of itself, is not a good reason to write a book. After all, there are a lot of ways to figure yourself out—journaling or going for a long walk in the woods, for example. But what’s really valuable here is in what happens after you’ve transformed yourself and likely the way you think about your business.
You’ll have more content ideas. You’ll have new ideas for products and services. You’ll feel more confident about your personal brand. You’ll probably feel ready to raise your prices because you’ll likely see an influx of new clients coming in after your book launches. All of this is assuming you do a good job with P.R. and marketing, which brings me to my next point.
2. Your Book as P.R. and Marketing
Having a strong personal brand is only the first step to building a platform and a following. To really skyrocket your brand and become nationally or globally recognized, you’ve got to invest in marketing and public relations. Do you know what also helps? Having a book.
Whether you’re pitching yourself or you engage a P.R. firm to help get your name out there, your book is P.R. gold. Your team can use your book to pitch podcast hosts, T.V. and radio spots, guest blogging opportunities, big publications, and to get you in front of larger audiences. Having a published book is also a prerequisite for most paid speaking gigs.
The good news is that a few lucky breaks can go a long way in the P.R. world. And you know what Denzel Washington says, “luck is nothing but being prepared when opportunities knock at your door.” A good public relations team specializing in working with authors can help you find those opportunities and be more prepared when they come knocking.
Also, on the marketing front, publishing a book is the ultimate in evergreen content. You can absolutely take bits and pieces of your book and put them out on social media. I know an author who hired someone to read her business development book and pluck out hundreds of tweets that she has been sharing for years.
3. Make an Impact
Here again, there are a lot of ways to make an impact, but writing a book is a really good one. Earlier, I mentioned how writing a book can transform you, but we can’t forget about your reader. Great books are transformative, so I always encourage authors to ask themselves what transformation they want their readers to go through.
Here are some ways a book can serve its readers:
- Solve a Problem: Many readers pick up a book because they believe it will help them solve a problem or because a friend has told them it will help them solve a problem. So, if you have a “how to” book in mind, ask yourself—what is the thing your book will help your reader get?
- Gain Knowledge: Some readers pick up a book because they want to learn something. This might be tied to solving a problem, but not always. Readers have all kinds of reasons for wanting to learn.
- Inspire, Motivate, and Empower: This one is all about mindset or feelings. You may want to make an impact by changing the way your reader thinks. How do you want them to feel after reading your book? Writing a book could be a great avenue for making this kind of impact.
- New Point of View: This one is perhaps a less common reason for readers to pick up a book, but it’s still important to keep in mind. Many authors shy away from offering their view on the topic of their book. But remember that you’re the expert and your readers want to know what you think. If they wanted general information, they could find it on Wikipedia.
These four are not mutually exclusive. Many great personal development and business development books touch on all of them. In fact, these are really just four different ways of asking what’s the transformation you want your readers to go through after reading your book.
The bottom line is writing a book can be an excellent way to build your personal brand. I encourage you to think through your reasons and consider how your book can help you get closer to meeting your goals. Once you’re satisfied with your answer, the next step is to take inspired action. Are you ready?
If you’re thinking of writing your book in 2021 (welcome to the club, I’ll be writing my own book right along with you), start with my Writer Profile Quiz. When you know your writer type, you’ll have a better idea of what it will take to get your book out of your head and into the hands of your fans.
Photo credit: Roman Lacheev