10 Simple Steps to Grow your Business by Writing a Book
Did you ever think that you can write a book to grow your business? It is a great idea. True, not everyone writes a book to do that. But those who have done it have found it to be a great way to grow the business, find new avenues of income, and create an impact.
These are not just books that tell you how to run a business. They do that too, but they also tell stories of the author’s lives in the context of their businesses. They tell you what the author did, when, and how well such that their business benefitted from it.
If you have started and nurtured a business or worked in a business, you are an expert in some parts or all of it, and you would have faced challenges and obstacles that were demanding. But you overcame them anyway. You might have some tips and tricks up your sleeve that helped you manage your business. Your point of view is, therefore, invaluable. Hence, writing a book is a natural next step that helps other people and your business as well. Not to mention, there will be some extra income that you’ll get from the sales of your book.
While writing a book is a good idea, writing any book will not do. You will need to write a book that extends your business and your brand. The book you write is your marketing tool.
Examples of Business Books
To find your inspiration, here are some stories of people who have written books that helped their business.
A famous business person who took to a book to showcase his business success story is Richard Branson. Published in 2009, Branson talks about the first 43 years of his life in this book, Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. (The title was a pun on ‘Virgin’, the name of the company he founded.) Branson had started more than a hundred successful businesses. This book explains a lot about the model or the rules he followed to become successful. It was only the beginning. He continued to write several books after the first one’s success and continued to build more businesses.
Indian beauty and skincare guru Shahnaz Husain wrote her eponymous Shahnaz Husain’s Beauty Book. After being published after becoming a household name in India, Husain’s book talks about beauty products that can be found on the kitchen shelf. It was a direct extension of her herbal cosmetics brand that she built over the years.
Who hasn’t heard of Tony Hsieh? He published his book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose in 2010. The book talks about his life as an entrepreneur. It talks about his company, Zappos, and how long-term thinking can lead to not only profits in business but also a happy and peaceful life for you, the employees, and the customers. His book became #1 in the New York Times bestseller list. Tony Hsieh had become an expert in customer service and building a company culture.
Why Write a Book to Grow Your Business
So what if famous people wrote books to further their business, you can very well ask, why should you do the same? Here is a list of a few reasons why writing and self-publishing a book works wonders for your business.
- You attract people’s attention to your business through your book.
- You attract potential customers as a result.
- You create an extension of your business brand.
- You get more opportunities to speak about your business.
- You get more leads useful to your business.
- You become an authority that others look up to.
- You get credibility for your efforts from those in the field as well as your customers.
- You get extra income from the sales of your books.
- You increase your visibility and presence in the media.
Steps to Write Your Book
Are you convinced yet that writing a book is an excellent idea for your business? If yes, read on. In ten steps,you can convert that book from an idea to a concrete reality.
Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas
So, you have decided you will write a book. You know it focuses on your business. But where do you start? Which part of your complex work life do you want to highlight in the book? How deep do you want to go into the subject? Do you want to focus on business philosophy or business strategy? To answer all these fundamental questions, you will need to brainstorm for ideas.
Things you need: Your laptop, notepad, charts of paper, pens etc., whatever is comfortable for you.
Time: You will need a few sessions to focus on brainstorming.
Technique: Here are a few brainstorming techniques that you can use.
- The post-it procedure: For twenty minutes, put down an idea per post-it. Keep writing down all the ideas that come to your mind connected to the book. Do not reject anything at this point. You still don’t know what will be of use later. So put everything down. They could be funny, weird, or simple. After twenty minutes, review the post-its. Filter out the ones that clearly do not belong. Then group post-its with similar ideas together. These are your potential chapters. Arrange the ideas/chapters logically. You can repeat this process for each chapter as well to expand on it.
- The story-web system: Readers really respond to stories rather an isolated episode. Write the main subject in the center of a page. Circle it. Draw spokes around the circle. At the end of each spoke, write the topics related to it. Each talk is a potential chapter.
- The starburst strategy: This technique focuses on questions rather than answers. List as many questions as you can about the book you plan to write. You can try the journalistic method of asking the 5 Ws and 1 H questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. This will ensure that you cover all aspects of the content of the book.
- The brainstorming with questions method: List twenty questions that the reader might want answers when they read your book. Write three additional questions for each of the main questions. Then try to answer them. The answers to the main questions are your potential chapters.
- The storyboard process: If you are a visual person, you might prefer using the storyboard. You can draw a scene or concept of the book. Use this visual to generate more concepts and pictures. If drawing is not your strong point, use pictures from magazines and websites. Add quotes, ideas, phrases, thoughts to these pictures that describe the scene. Organize the pictures logically to get a narrative.
- The timeline technique: If you are focusing on your own biography or the biography of your business, use chronology to list the events that happened from the beginning to the present. List the significant dates first. Then list five key points about each event. The key events are your potential chapters, and the five key points guide the contents of each chapter.
- The scatter shot approach: This technique is similar to the post-it procedure. Take twenty minutes to note down all the points you can come up with. Then, take a break and go for a walk or take a shower. Then return to this list for another 20 minutes. Repeat the process till all your thoughts are recorded.
Whatever your chosen method, make a copy of the brainstorming session notes and keep them safe. It could even be just taking a picture/screenshot of it and saving it to your mailbox. You can never be too careful with your hard work.
Step 2: Research the Reader’s Expectations
The reader is your potential customer for your business, as well as your book. So it’s good to have an ear to the ground when it comes to writing business books.
One place you can check is the FAQ section of your company’s website. Another place is the customer queries on your website or twitter page. What do your customers ask about usually? Do they want to know more any particular area/s about your business? These are places where you can get some idea about customers’ expectations.
Other methods include unpaid surveys and, if you can, paid surveys. You could frame questions that reveal what the readers want. Then use them to understand the reader’s expectations.
Step 3: Research the Market
Next, you need to figure out a gap in the market. Your book is, after all, a product and has to fill a need in the market. What does the market need? Have a look at the online and offline shelves to find out which books sell, which doesn’t work in the same genre as your book. Trade publications that cater to your industry will have information about books, old and new. That should give you an idea about the topics addressed and those that are left out. Keep an eye out on the ones that you think are left out—that is where your book comes in.
Step 4: Choose Your Niche
It is time to go back to your brainstorming notes. Then outline your potential book. It is probably the most time-consuming step. As with all good things in life, this too will take time. Follow all the steps to writing a book from finding a dedicated writing space to the writing to the editing. Here are the steps in short:
- Find your business interests and passions.
- Identify the problems that you have solved.
- Check out the competition.
- Narrow down your list.
- Find an overlap between the market need and your list.
Step 5: Write Your Book
This is the time to go back to your brainstorming notes. Then make an outline of your potential book. This is probably the most time-consuming step. As with all good things in life, this too will take time. Follow all the steps to writing a book from finding a dedicated writing space to the writing to the editing. Here are the steps in short:
- Create your writing space.
- Stick to a writing schedule.
- Make an outline.
- Divide the writing task into chunks.
- Switch off your internal editor.
- Find your own voice.
- Write sections that you want to write first (not necessarily the first chapter).
- Make your introduction captivating.
- Write, write, write.
- Re-look at the outline and change, if required.
- Wrap up with a compelling ending.
- Edit, edit, edit—do it yourself or hire an editor.
Step 6: Decide on Graphics
By the time you are done with writing the drafts of your book, you would know exactly what kind of graphics your book needs. Graphics are of two types.
- Infographics: These are graphics that give you some information, usually through charts, maps, tables, process drawings, lists, pie charts, flow charts, timelines, etc.
- Decorative graphics: These are graphics which add no information and are purely used for decoration.
You will need both of them but for different reasons for the book. In the text pages, you will need the infographics to support your argument and elaborate it. During the book design process, you will need the decorative graphics like photos and page design elements. If your book is a biography or has elements of a biography, then photos are indispensable.
Once you have some idea about the graphics, you can hirea graphic designer with whom you can work to take care of this part of your book. If you choose the traditional publishing route, your publisher will take care of this.
Step 7: Choose a Title
Choosing a book title is crucial when it comes to writing and publishing your book. Some people start writing a book with the title. For some others, the title is frozen quite late in the editing process.There is no right way or wrong to go about it. Whatever works for you is the best method.
The title is about a niche in the business so it has to be spelled out clearly and be to the point: a short striking title followed by a longer detailed subtitle. The title catches your eye. The subtitle explains the title.
For example, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Differenceby Malcolm Gladwell; Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Ariana Huffington.
Step 8: Cover Design, Blurb, Additional Pages, ISBN
Cover:The book cover is the face of the book. People definitely judge a book by its cover. You need to invest in a good book cover design. This will ultimately make a big difference to the sales (and therefore to the visibility) of your book. If you choose a traditional publisher, they will take care of all the details of this step. If you are self-publishing, work with a book designer to get the impactful cover you want.
Blurb:While the cover gets the people’s attention, the book blurb is what converts them into paying customers/readers. When starting out, you might consider getting an endorsement from an industry senior or mentor, which will add to your credibility.
Additional Pages: Your business bookmight require a few or all of the following additional pages:
- Title page (the first page after the cover)
- Copyright page (with copyright details)
- About the author
ISBN: Almost all books need an International Standard Book Number(ISBN). It is a unique number that libraries and bookstores use to identify and order your book. If you want your book to be available in print, an ISBN is a must. If you are publishing only on Amazon or prefer to have only a digital copy then you don’t need the ISBN.
If you choose the traditional publishing method, your publisher will handle this.
Step 9: Get Feedback
Now that you have a book almost ready, you need to do a test run. That’s where your friends come in. Choose someone who has no idea about your area of business. Ask them to read your book and give you feedback. Listen very carefully to the questions and comments that crop up. These will be exactly the kind of questions and comments that your readers will have. Don’t stop with one friend. Send it to at least two or three of them. The points that your different friends consistently point out are the areas on which you need to work. Work on your draft based on the feedback.
In the future, if you author more books about your business, you might consider developing a group of beta-readers. These readers read your book much before it is published and give you overall feedback from a reader’s perspective.
Step 10: Choose a Format
You are almost at the end of the process. After incorporating the feedback, you will have a nearly complete draft in your hands. Proofread this draft for any leftover errors.
Next, you have to choose between traditional and self-publishing. Traditional publishing may take years, so if getting a book out in the market is a priority, you can go with self-publishing. It will also give you more creative control over the whole process.
You have a choice of the following formats:
The format you choose depends on your target audience, the book’s aim, and the socio-economic climate.
You now have a complete overview of the whole process of writing a book to grow your business. You know why writing a book helps your business. You also know that other people have done the same before you. Now, all you need to do is start working on that book. Follow the ten steps listed here, and you will soon be able to become an expert on the business content you choose to write about.