You’ve decided you’re ready to write a business book. Awesome!
However, despite having experience in business, you may not know where to start. Worry not! This blog post will give you a quick run down on how to craft a thoughtful piece that not only conveys your message but motivates your readers to take action on your ideas.
Choose your Message and Audience
Your message is arguably the most important part of the brainstorming process. A captivating message is what will not only hook your reader, but what will make your book memorable after your reader has consumed the last page.
Your message should be something that is integral to your own life in some way. Readers will know when you’re lying. Choose something that speaks to you, and find out why you find it so important. If you can realize why your message means something to you, you can discover how to give it meaning to your audience.
Once you’ve got your message, decide who needs to hear it. Who are you speaking to? Are you wanting to reach young entrepreneurs just starting out in the business world, or are you aiming for the more seasoned business people who are looking for a fresh perspective? It is perfectly acceptable to aim a business book towards everyone, but by choosing an audience with a particular set of characteristics, you can include points that will directly relate to the audience’s own experiences.
Pining down your audience will be vital when coming to the next few steps.
Make it Personal
If you’re writing a book, chances are you’ve got a story.
Tell that story. It can be your own or someone else’s, but personal stories and experiences give your audience something to relate to and gives you, as the author, an air of authenticity. Readers can spot a disingenuous author immediately.
This may be self-explanatory, but ensure that your story ties into the message. The two should have a clear connection that your reader is immediately aware of. If the overarching point of your book is that a good company is built upon personal relationships with your peers, you wouldn’t want to tell a story about your business suffering from rampant disorganization. The two don’t clearly tie together.
Once you can tie the two together, outline your story. Who are the important people? You don’t need to include everyone in the office. What is the big event you want to talk about? What led up to it? What mistakes did you make and what lessons did you learn? Outline the main events to your tale and ensure that you have a conflict and resolution, as well as a tie in to how this ordeal affected you.
Then, spice up your story to make it a gripping tale. “I wasn’t organized and didn’t file all of my invoices and I lost a bunch of money” is not gripping. I’m not saying you should lie, but you should definitely use an active voice and provide details. “I lost ten thousand dollars to an unorganized filing cabinet” is a bold claim that your readers will want to investigate.
Use an active voice to tell a fascinating story and readers will be hooked.
You can’t guarantee that every reader will relate to you, but you can up the odds that most will.
Once you’ve decided who your audience is, find common ground that you and your readers share. Being relatable is key part of persuasion, and as a writer you are persuading your reader to read your book and act upon your message.
If you are trying to grab the novice businessman with your book, play up your early days as an entrepreneur. People want to know they aren’t alone in their struggles and mistakes. It may feel embarrassing to post your mistakes in a piece of literature, but it makes your audience more likely to trust and listen to you.
If you’re trying to grab another demographic, say, the working mom or dad starting his or her own business, highlight your experience as a parent. Talk about your struggle to balance your personal life with your work or talk about incorporating family into your career. Managing a family and a business can be hard work, so by taking an “If I can do it, so can you” stance, the reader will find your message more relatable and trustworthy.
Readers will be more inclined to take your message to heart if they can see how it relates to their own life. Always maintain a connection with your audience to keep your credibility and hold their interest.
Deliver a Clear Message
Once you’ve discussed your story, delve into your larger message. After all, this is a business book, not an autobiography. The message is the entire point of your book. You don’t want to tell your life story or just list mistakes, you want to clearly put forth what you believe and what the reader should do.
Come back to your original story and clearly make a connection to the point you want to drive home. If the main idea of your book is that social networking is the next big step in business, make sure that point remains the same in every chapter. Your chapters can discuss various topics, but the topics should always have a direct tie to the central message.
It is extremely easy to get sidetracked when writing a novel, especially when you’re using personal stories to illustrate a point. With every new chapter you author, think about why you’re writing that chapter, then ask yourself if the point of the chapter relates back to the overall point of your book.
Guide Your Audience
With every chapter going forward, guide your audience towards the appropriate decisions.
Make your independent chapters little how-to guides regarding a specific skill or concept. If you’ve got a book on social connection in business, each chapter can be about a different kind of connection or about networking in different situations. How do you network on social media as opposed to at something like a convention? What social sites are the best for business networking?
Building specific, targeted chapters will give your book a more re-usable design. If I’m a young entrepreneur looking to network through social media, I’d much rather have a chapter I can immediately flip to on that topic rather than having to comb through 300 pages of info to find what I’m looking for.
Once you have your targeted chapters, lose the ambiguity. I’m not reading a directional book for the author to dance around the info I want. If you want your readers to get a point, tell them clearly.
If the theme of your book is “don’t make these business mistakes”, don’t leave them guessing at what they should do instead. Tell them what to do. Instead of warning your reader away from the wrong decisions, show them the right decision. Saying, “Don’t have an inconsistent work routine” leaves tons of room for error. Instead, a direction like “set a clear morning routine by listing out exact tasks to accomplish” gives your reader a better idea of what to do.
If your reader has a clear idea of what you think needs to happen in order to facilitate success, they will be much more likely to take action. Don’t be vague with your points and give your audience clear direction.
Write an Eye-Catching Title
This may be one of the most straightforward points and yet one of the hardest steps in the process.
Your title is what will motivate your potential reader to snatch your book off of the shelf, so don’t squander it!
Your title should be concise, directional, and memorable. Check out any business book and you’ll find that most of the time their titles are contained to a few words, are presented in bright colors, and take up most of the cover. This isn’t a storybook where you need a cover with a lengthy title and beautiful art. Your title is your advertisement. Go bold.
Use a few words for your title. Something wordy like, “How I learned to stop dwelling on past business mistakes and start my company already” is long and dull. Shorten that to something like “Stop Dwelling. Start Selling” and that message is much more likely to stick in the audience’s head.
Especially with a business book, your title is your advertising slogan. Think of any popular company. Nike’s slogan isn’t “We make sportswear that will help you get off your couch and run”. Their “Just do it” slogan is memorable, concise, and directional. That is what you want for your book.
Like with your topic, sit down and brainstorm. Aim for titles that tie into your message. It is perfectly acceptable if your ideas are lengthy at first. Find your favorite title that most closely links to your theme, and find a creative way to shorten it. Bold words, rhymes, and active voice will be your best friends.
With those points in mind, go forth with your brainstorming process! Start with an outline including all the previously listed ideas. Always remember that you want your audience to leave your book with a main idea stuck in their mind and a clear list of objectives to take action on.