Sunday, September 13, 2009

#1 Rule for Writing a Business Book - Don't

Did you know that:

o 500 to 1000 books are published everyday in the United States?

o 95% of books never sell 5000 copies?

o if you get your book into Barnes & Noble, you’ll make less than $2.00 for each book they sell?

o E-book publishing is increasing at 25% to 50% per year

I wish that I had understood these numbers two years ago when I struck out to write my book, Customer Driven Change: What your customers know; your employees think; your managers overlook. Reactions to my authorship tend to be: “what an accomplishment,” and “I think I'd like to do that!”

I'm appreciative of the first comment - since it took me several thousand hours of work; however, I've got to caution you about trying this on your own. Be forewarned, it will be the most excruciating experience of your life. The wonder of writing a business book falls into three sections:

  1. writing the book - this is the easy part
  2. publishing the book - this is not for the faint of heart
  3. selling the book - this makes the first two parts look like child's play

Writing the Book

You’ll need more than a good idea. You’ll need long periods of quiet time. You’ll also need an editor. Usually a family member or friend is not a good idea - but there are exceptions, particularly if you're paying them.

Oh, one other thing. Did you ever wonder why business books have a boring look and textbook feel to them? It's because every time you add a grap
h, chart, table, or call-out you add in printing complexity. There comes a point where "user friendly" is cost prohibitive.

Publishing the Book

You should decide on how you will publish before you have completed the manuscript - or even have a good draft. Basically you have three publishing choices, each with pros and cons:

  1. Traditional Publishing: The big publishers may give you a small contract and they will do limited marketing, but they’ll own the rights to your book and they get involved in its content.
  2. Self-Publishing: This is you and you better be a good project manager. You will own the rights to your book and you'll get all the net revenue, if you can find people to buy it at a reasonable price.
  3. Hybrid Publishing: This is a niche market where you can go to a recognized publisher and pay them for their services. It's not cheap, but you do have the rights to your book - and its net profit.

Marketing the Book

Don’t fool your self. You may have written the next Wealth of Nations. At this point it’s not about content. It’s about finding people to write reviews; getting media spots; selling books to distributors; mailing books to colleagues and carrying boxes of books to meetings. Sure, Amazon will post your book, but who will buy it if they haven’t heard about it? Oh, yeah – there’s that “viral marketing” thing, right. Well be prepared to invest in a website, produce videos, and write a blog (yes, like this one).

Writing a business book has a lot of intrinsic value, such as personal accomplishment and supporting another line of business like consulting. But don’t get into this venture to make money. People make money in the publishing business, but it’s rarely the first time author.

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