Mistaking a fancy title for thought leadership is a common mistake in the book publishing business. After all, a fancy title does not a good author make.
Writing books on professional topics can be a great marketing strategy or a wasted exercise in ego inflation. Before writing a book, make sure you have something worth saying that people will want to listen to.
In the latest episode of B2B Revealed, Sean Campbell interviewed Caleb Breakey, CEO of Speak It To Book. They discussed the best way to transform your business views into a story worthy of publication.
Building Your Business With a Book
For business leaders and aspiring thought leaders, books need to serve a purpose. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to turn your experience as a B2B sales leader or consultant into a career as a full-time author. Since that’s not a viable path, why write a book?
As Breakey told it, the book should be one piece of a larger funnel. Start by publishing a book for free. It’s much easier to do so these days with the proliferation of eBooks and services like Kindle Unlimited. Next, you need a plan for how you’ll connect with your readers.
“The book is just the start,” said Breakey. “Now, what’s the next step with you? Is it a video series…Are you doing speaking engagements? Do you want to host a retreat for this particular niche?”
The goal isn’t to be a full-time, best-selling author. Instead, the goal is to use the book as a door opener: to conversations with customers, partners, and people interested in your industry.
This planning should happen before any writing — or ghost-writing — begins on the book itself. Once you have the plan for how the book will be used, then it’s safe to begin your investment in writing a book.
“Writing Is So Easy a 10-Year Old Could Do It”
Once they’ve got a plan, many authors foolishly assume they’ll jump into the writing process and wrap it up in a month or two. For example, let’s say a VP of something at a Fortune 100 company for the last five years leaves her role to start a consultancy. To promote the business, she decides to write a book about her experiences in her past role. The book never makes it passed the outline.
Believing a book will come naturally is a common misguided assumption, according to Breakey. In his time helping people turn their book ideas into reality, Breakey has seen far too many Chapter One drafts sitting in a desk drawer, collecting dust.
Writing is harder than it looks, folks. Breakey shared this joke: “There’s a saying that goes around in the writing industry about a writer and a doctor who go out on the golf course. And the doctor says to his writer friend, ‘You wouldn’t believe it, I’m so excited, I’m taking off the summer from my practice to become a writer.’ The writer turns back and says, ‘That’s crazy, because I’m actually taking off this summer to go into brain surgery with you as well.’”
The moral of the story? That writing a book is going to take time, especially for people who are long on industry experience and short on crafting stories.
Imagine Your Audience Standing There — Bored
These words of caution aren’t meant to discourage all would-be authors. Writing is about communicating important ideas, not seeing if you can hit an arbitrary page count. Instead, focus on the value you’re bringing to readers.
To do this, Breakey recommends putting yourself in the shoes of the audience. “Is it giving you value in the first five pages? Check. Great, keep reading. Is the author giving you value in the next 10 pages? Great, check. Keep reading.”
Publish something that delivers value on every page so that you can keep the attention of your audience. If that means your “book” is just a 45-page PDF, that’s fine.
After all, it’s better to leave your audience wanting more than to bore them so badly they don’t want any more from you, ever.