Posted by Natalie Birrell,
Writing a business book 101 – award-winning business authors share their top tips for getting started.
There are many ways to market your business, products or services but one way to achieve a connection with your clients or customers is by sharing your expertise and experiences with them. One way to do this is by writing a business book, which will give you both personal and business credibility as an expert and can also give you brand clarity.
But how do you get started? We spoke to ten business authors who have been shortlisted in this year’s The Business Book Awards to find out their top tips.
Have something important to say
“Then sketch out how you are going to say it with an annotated table of contents.
But beyond the obvious of having something important to say, make the book relatable to your target reader. If yours is a book for small business folk, don’t load it with examples of the challenges faced by multi-nationals. If it is a book for middle managers implementing complex change programmes, don’t digress on the challenges faced by start-ups.
Finally, go easy on the jargon, go plenty on the case studies and make it as readable as it is relevant”
Vaughan Evans author of Strategy Plain and Simple
Write what you readers need to know
“There’s a simple way to get started on writing a business book, and it’s the same tip I give to people who want to present better – start by thinking of your audience, not yourself. When I wrote my book, I had a sticker next to my computer which said, ‘Don’t worry about what you want to write, write what your readers need to know’.
Imagine you’re writing for one, perfect, smiling reader. If you do this, your prose will become more conversational, and your ideas will be clearer and easier to understand.”
Lee Warren is author of The Busy Person’s Guide To Great Presenting
Be clear on why you want to write the book and who it’s for
“If you have your end reader in mind at the start of writing your book, it helps you to focus. When you know who your target reader is, you then need to map out what journey the book will take you on, so you are clear about the overview of the book.
Commit to writing every week (if not every day) and block out specific time to write. Finally, make sure that you leave plenty of time for editing and feedback – remember your first draft won’t be perfect and the most important thing is to get your words and ideas down initially so you can edit them down.”
Ruth Kudzi is author of Is This It? The Smart Woman’s Guide To Finding Work You Love
Know your Core Message
“My top tip for writing a business book is the same one that I give people to help them craft their Leadership Story. Know your Core Message. There are hundreds of books out there on every aspect of business so, you need to have a particular hook or angle on your topic. What is the one thing that you want to convey to your reader? Ideally, this is something slightly unexpected, original and maybe even controversial. Your Core Message acts as a central organising idea that is addressed throughout your book, keeping it focused, relevant and valuable to your reader.”
Deborah Henley is author of Your Leadership Story
Think of three perspectives whilst creating the book
“Every sentence I wrote in my book was thought about from a combination of three perspectives. The first was “is this truly what I believe?”, the second was “will this be of extreme value to the reader?”, and finally “is this the clearest way of expressing my point?”. These perpetual questions generated significant clarity not only for me and my publishers but also (and more so) the readers – according to the range of reviews and testimonials. I now realise my earlier books could have done with more of that!”
Jonathan MacDonald is author of Powered By Change
Set a realistic expectation for writing and do it every day
“I set a realistic expectation of writing 300 words a day. Some days I wrote more, some days I didn’t quite manage it, though it meant that over a period of a few months the book started shaping up.
The other thing I did that, for me, was crucial was not focus on perfection, and trust in the editorial process. I sent the final manuscript to the editor when I knew it wasn’t absolutely perfect, because if I tried to get it exactly right, honestly, I never would have sent it!”
Kirsty Hulse is author of The Future is Freelance
Go where ideas and energy find you
“Each writing day you will likely find that you begin by staring at the computer…waiting for the words to find you, worrying that what you’re writing isn’t good enough, simultaneously energised and exhausted by what you’ve set out to achieve.
So, my simple advice would be that the first thing you do every single writing day is to go where ideas and energy find you. This might be a peaceful cup of coffee, or a run in the forest, or a yoga practice – whatever works for you. The place where you re-energise and where inspiration comes to you is the first thing you do….and not the last thing you do if you have time at the end of the day.”
Kathryn Jackson author of Resilience at Work
Include call to actions throughout your book
“If there’s one thing that I’ve learned writing and marketing two bestselling business books, it’s that you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of including several call to actions throughout your book, to get the reader to visit your website, and hop on your email list.
You can do this easily by providing valuable related bonus content (which they need to opt-in to get), that enhances the reading experience they’ve enjoyed with your book so far. For us to take the relationship from reader to customer, we need to get them into our ecosystem, and this is how you do it!”
Chris Ducker is author of Rise of the Youpreneur
Co-create and co-promote
“No person is an island. Make sure to engage other experts and thought leaders in the writing process. This will give you a two-sided effect. Firstly, you will get other perspectives that will challenge and improve your ideas, your writing and as a result your finished book. Secondly, you will get a bunch of ambassadors wanting your book to become a success, therefore doing what they can to help you spread the word and promote your book. We had one hundred co-creators taking part of the journey in writing our book.”
Joakim Jansson & Marie Andervin co-authors of Leading Digital Transformation
The Business Book Awards winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 26 March in London. For more details or to book your place visit: https://www.businessbookawards.co.uk/