The following article was written by Stephanie Larkin, Publisher, Red Penguin Books. I agree with everything that Stephanie wrote, and as a matter of fact, Red Penguin Books published our very own compilation written by A’s Netters, Shared Wisdom.
What can help you to stand out from your competition in a crowded field?
What gives you instant credibility—even when you aren’t in the room?
What can streamline your in-house processes and save money?
What can enhance your workshops and training sessions?
What can you hand to a prospective client to close the deal?
The answer to these and many other questions is . . . A BOOK!
A book can close deals with prospective clients, illuminate others to your core mission, save money by clarifying business systems, act as the ultimate sales rep who even goes home with your prospects, and give your resume an unprecedented boost.
According to the Small Business Association, over 625,000 new businesses open each year. Those new, enthusiastic business owners—together with the existing businesses—form a lot of competition if you want to get your business seen, remembered and respected in such a crowded marketplace. Building your market is all about exposure and perception—people must be made aware of you and your business, and then they must have a positive impression in order to want to work with you. Writing a book helps by setting you apart from your competitors while establishing your credibility in the field—a win-win!
Consider the following scenario—we’ve all been there before!
The murmur of chatter permeates the room as people stream into the auditorium for the morning’s presentations. Admittedly, some participants are anxiously awaiting the day’s events, while other—more skeptical types—have more of an “I dare you to impress me!” attitude as they trudge into the auditorium.
Julie has been to many, many such events in her work life, and would much rather be at her desk catching up on work than hearing the morning’s panel of speakers. She takes her seat with little expectation of learning anything from the speakers and opens the program to see just what she is in for this morning. Scanning down the list of names, she isn’t familiar with any, but her eye catches one in particular—Amanda Grey, author of “Recharge You Life and Work with _______ .” Suddenly Julie perks up, interested in learning more about what this expert has to say.
There is no doubt about it—having a book “to your name” sets you apart in a way like no other. In fact, once you have written a book, you will find that it is so critical to your professional persona that the words “author of ________” will appear right after your name—before any other credentials.
“Most people believe almost anything they see in print.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
But I Can’t Write a Book!
There are as many different ways of writing a book as there are books in the world, and truly no “right” or “wrong” way, as long as it gets done. Before we get into tips, structures and strategies on writing the book, the first decision is who is actually going to do the writing. You may already be aware that not all books are written by the person whose name is on the cover, so there is definitely some grey area here with deciding who will write your book. Your options in general are:
You Write Your Own Book
I particularly love this option, as the pride in completing such an endeavor far outweighs the time, effort and learning curve involved. I have personally coached many prospective authors through the writing of their books, and there is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your name on the cover of a book—wow!
Writing a book yourself can also be a great way to test the waters in a new field, develop ideas about a particular industry or even learn more about yourself. You can write a book alone or utilize the services of a coach, beta readers, and an editor or even a writing group to help refine your message and keep you accountable to finishing the task. And while writing a book is certainly not easy, 90% of people polled say that writing a book is a major life goal, so you will be fulfilling a dream for millions of others with your book.
You Have a Team Approach to Your Book
Many books are written by a team, whether it is obvious as in a compilation of stories/articles, or less pronounced, such as many of our most popular fiction writers. Team or not, the author’s name is on the cover, so before you ask, yes, you get “credit” for writing the book!
Writing a book with others is a fantastic way to get things done, especially when it comes to books written to streamline business practices, use in workshops or other money-saving ideas. Team approaches help books come together quickly, and with a team, there are more stakeholders who have a vested interest in the success of the book. There could be one on-site team member who is the gatekeeper/editor (that could also be you, as author), or another editor/ghostwriter off-site who can coordinate the team and their submissions. I have worked with many compilations, and it is exciting to see the book come together with many people involved in its ultimate success.
You Hire a Ghostwriter
I love the term “ghostwriter”—it conjures up all sorts of fantastic images in my head. And since I have ghostwritten many books, I have a keen desire to keep a white sheet in my office to pull over my head when I need inspiration.
Seriously speaking though, hiring a ghostwriter doesn’t mean that you will have no input into the creative process at all. Quite the contrary, a ghostwriter for the types of non-fiction books we are discussing should be gathering information, conducting interviews and learning about exactly what needs to be written in the book. In the case of utilizing a ghostwriter for manuals and other in-house books, a ghostwriter can be considered a “contracted consultant” who visits your place of business and works with your staff to develop the best possible book to streamline processes and save you time and money. All of that and you don’t need to type a word—a pretty good deal for all!
You may also opt for something “in-between,” like writing a rough draft yourself and having a writer flesh it out from there, or other variations. Your options are endless, and you needn’t let the HOW get in the way of the final goal—a book to benefit your business!
The 5 Book “types” that are so easy – they practically write themselves!
There are as many ways to organize the content in a book as there are books in the world, and with over 4,000 new books being added to Amazon every day, that’s a lot of books! Here are 5 book types which you may not have considered, which are MUCH easier than the traditional “start at the beginning and write until the end” approach.
Book Type #1 – the book of ideas/tips
25 Biblical Laws of Success
17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork
If you go to Amazon and simply type “50 ways to ___ “ you will hit upon a jackpot of book titles. Whether you go with 50 or 5, books set up in this manner are a breeze to write, set you up as an approachable “expert” in your field, and are enticing to read, as the reader feels as if they are going to glean tangible, applicable tips in a hurry.
Book Type #2 – the book of questions
100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask
101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged
Whether you are in finance or personal growth, I am sure that you ask your clients a lot of questions – in some fields, the questions sum up a majority of what you do! And whether your questions are designed to lead your reader to further introspection or simply to record information, your primary goal of leading readers to YOU and the positives of working with you will be realized. A book of questions contains a lot of blank spaces and can be written rather easily, as you know best the questions your customers are asking.
Book Type #3 – case studies/stories
Case Studies in Abnormal Psychology
12 Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street
Real Estate Stories: Hilarious & Uncensored Tales From A Property Management Expert
Books of stories are big hits with readers, and they love to read about others facing the same issues and challenges as themselves, yet coming out on top. As a writer, you can either draw upon your own experiences and stories—changing names and identifying information where appropriate—or research biographies or cases related to your target area.
Book Type #4 – compilations
Insider Secrets for Small to Medium Business Owners by Top Business and Marketing Experts
Insights & Innovations From Top Local Business Owners, Professionals & Community Leaders
The Real Book of Real Estate: Real Experts. Real Stories. Real Life.
When in doubt, have other people write your book for you! Not only can a compilation relieve you of the major portion of writing responsibilities, but inviting colleagues to partner in your project is a win-win for everyone. You end up with a book, they get exposure, and you gain incredible opportunities to network with others and give them a great opportunity—one which may be repaid to you in the future!
Book Type #5 – the “how to” book
How To Pay Off Your Mortgage In 5 Years
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
“How-to” books are such a popular topic area, they even have their own category on Amazon! Some authors worry that writing a how-to book will make people want to “do it themselves” and not enlist their services but, on the contrary, a how-to book exhibits your expertise in a particular area. Let’s face it – some people like to do things themselves (even things they perhaps shouldn’t be doing!), but others like to know a bit of information – just enough to realize that they are in way over their heads!
You’re on your way! By crystallizing the reason WHY you wish to write your book and HOW you will be able to get moving, you can approach the actual writing with a plan and goal in mind. Like setting out for a road trip, having a map and hotel reservations at your destination ensures that you WILL arrive at the correct place in a timely manner. And just like a road trip, the journey is half the fun!