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- Bob Bly
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Writing a book to promote your business can be one of the most exhilarating events in your life, especially if you are a copywriter or self-employed professional.
Nonfiction books, especially, attract clients, pre-sell your competence, and open doors of opportunity by making you the "obvious expert" in your field.
But, here are some questions to ask yourself before sharing your publishing plans with family, friends, and clients. To help you evaluate your answers, I've included some comments and observations.
I've organized the questions in terms of Published & Profitable's 4 steps to success: plan, write, promote, and profit.
1. Why do you want to write a book?
It's extremely important to have realistic expectations for the benefits you can expect to gain from a published book. The more specific you are in defining your goals and expectations, the better. Ask yourself questions like:
* Are you looking for a big advance and continuing royalties? * Do you want to attract new clients and/or charge higher fees? * Do you want to develop a lucrative speaking career? * Do you want to create and promote training or workshops? * Do you want to create information products you can sell online?
All of the above are valid reasons to write a book…but some are more valid than others.
Contrary to what publishers offer "celebrity" authors, like entertainers, politicians, or sports figures, the money you will receive from your publisher will only partly reimburse you for the time you invest in your book. That's why it's so necessary to have a clear idea of the specific ways you can profit from your book.
By identifying and refining your specific goals and objectives, and analyzing your ability to perform the required tasks, you'll be better able to judge whether or not your project is right for you.
2. Have you researched existing books in your field?
Have you taken a close look at currently-available books in your field? Have you spent time at online bookstores, like Amazon.com, Powells.com, and Barnes and Noble.com analyzing what's already available?
Have you identified the most important books in your field, and either purchased them or borrowed them from your library, in order to judge their quality and relevance?
What are the sales rankings of existing books in your field? Are new books continuing to appear? A stream of new books is a healthy sign, showing that the field is an active one.
3. How will your book be different?
There are hundreds of thousands of books available on every topic. Few publishers--and, for that matter—readers, are likely to be interested in books covering familiar ground.
To have a chance of getting successfully published, your book has to be obviously different than existing books. "Difference" can be expressed in terms of:
* A new perspective * Recent events or trends * New findings or technology * Easier-to-follow advice or instructions * Focus on a specific market segment
4. Have you come up with a title that promises change?
Titles of successful nonfiction books promise change. The titles explain how the book will help the book buyer either solve a problem or achieve a desired goal.
Unless you have a title that clearly indicates the change, or benefit, your book will help you readers achieve, you don't have a book, you only have a "topic" or "field to explore."
When you come up with the right title, the right words will target your market and clearly indicate the benefits of buying your book.
5. Have you identified the steps, or actions, needed to achieve the title's promise?
The sooner you organize your knowledge and information about your field into a series of steps, the better. One of the most popular formats for books is 2, 3, or 4 major sections, subdivided into 8 to 10 chapters. Each chapter should contain 6-8 main ideas.
Once you have identified the sections, chapters, and main ideas for each chapter, you will be well on your way to a successful book.
6. Do you have the time to write your book?
The true test of an author is their willingness to invest a relatively short amount of time each day in their project. Great books are written in daily half-hour and one-hour increments. Success is defined by consistent progress, rather than "marathon" and coffe-fueled stress sessions.
Unlike the typical college term paper, a career-enhancing book is not done by "getting away for a month," or abandoning your family and friends while you lock yourself into our home office. Instead, daily writing sessions usually work best.
7. Why are you qualified to write your book?
Your confidence plays an important role in the success of your book and your ability to attract a publisher. Your book must be a logical outgrowth of your experiences in your field, and you must be confident of your ability to do the work that's necessary to bring your book to life.
Your knowledge of your field, your passion, and your dedication are more important than "creativity" or your writing ability. After you have completed the first draft, your publishers will provide the editorial resources you need to fine-tune your writing.
8. Are you depending on your publisher to market and promote your book?
This is a key question. Many authors are usually surprised to hear that their (often) multi-billion dollar a year publishers are not going to do much to promote their book. Promotion is the author's responsibility, regardless of who publishes their book.
Accordingly, you must be willing to create a presence for your book, using the Internet to attract the attention of prospective buyers and building their interest and enthusiasm in your book. And, after your first book appears, you must keep your readers engaged, so they will look forward to your next book.
9. What is your current "platform?"
Platform refers to your ability to market and promote your book through sales to clients, visitors to your website, and your own mailing list. Platform also includes your willingness to travel and sell your book to those attending your speeches or workshops.
Obviously, publishers are most interested in publishing books by authors with an established online presence and already-strong reputations in their field.
10. How will you earn money from your book beyond income generated by book sales?
Since, with rare exceptions, income from book sales represents only a small part of the yearly income of most nonfiction authors, it's important that you have a business plan that specifies how you will convert the visibility, credibility, and goodwill generated by your book into continuing profits.
In many cases, it's useful to view your book as a "brochure" that introduces you to prospective clients and customers who will come to you for:
* Coaching and consulting services helping firms and individuals implement the ideas described in your book. * Tools, like workbooks and templates, to assist readers following your advice. * Seminars, training, and workshops for employees as well as self-employed professionals. * Updates and in-depth information on specialized topics, delivered in a variety of audio, video, and online formats as trends and predictions, yearly updates, case studies, and special reports.
Your likelihood of success increases the sooner you begin, and the more detailed your plans.
Today, there are more opportunities to profit from a published book than ever before. But, to take advantage of these opportunities, you have to know your options and your resources, plus your willingness to commit to your success.
NOTE: Roger C. Parker is the publisher of Published & Profitable.
Related learning materials:
The demand for print and direct mail copywriters is static, to say the least. The real demand right now is for copywriters who have the skills to write effective copy for the web. This is a professional-grade course that will make you a specialist in online copywriting. This is where the future for copywriters lies! More about this online copywriting course...
I was sent a review copy of the entire course and read through it from cover to cover. It is excellent. Perfect for offline copywriters. Also an excellent writer resource for online copywriters who want to write in a way that drives RESULTS. Read my review of Michael Masterson's course
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