Thursday, September 10, 2015

The business of books

Writing a book is a complex project.  You start with an idea and a few key messages and then spend months writing and rewriting what you want to say. 

Sometimes you do some research to make sure what’s being written is valid and is providing practical, helpful information. 

Sometimes you have to take a break as the words are just not flowing and you are not in the “zone.”

But then there comes the time to stop, look at what you’ve written and determine if you have indeed got a book, that you have accomplished what you set out to do.

This summer I have been working on two books – One Red Lipstick - which is about how as women, no matter what is going on in our lives, we put on our lipstick and get on with it.  The book shares stories of women entrepreneurs who have, in some cases, overcome the odds to succeed.  

The Good Enough? book on the other hand is looking at how women so often don’t feel good enough, and how can we change that pattern for ourselves.  Amy Hunter and I have been working on this book for some time now and have connected with over 350 women to hear their stories and concerns. 

So two books which focus on women but from different angles.  We are turning the corner on both of them and are on the last lap.  At this time of reflection I am realizing that the rules that apply in business, also apply in book writing too.

It’s all about the customer/reader
For example,  all along the stories/chapters have been compiled in a certain order – logical from my perspective, each building on the next – but not, in hindsight, perhaps the most appealing to the reader.   

Too frequently we get caught up in our perspective instead of thinking about the reader. We focus on what we want to say, rather than what the reader may need to learn or find interesting.

In business I am always talking about listening to your customer and offering what they want rather than what you want to offer.  Clearly I need to listen to my own advice when it comes to writing books.

I am convinced that when you put the reader first and foremost, you are more likely to capture their attention and bottom line… sell more books.   

Understand your target audience
Just as knowing your target audience is important in running a successful business, so too is understanding who you want to reach with your book and what they will find inspiring, reassuring or whatever the goal is for your book.

You can’t share everything you know
Often we write a book to use as platform to position ourselves as an expert, and that is all good and fine, but in preparing your material, it all gets back to the reader – if you include too much information or use jargon, you will lose them.  As Sam Horn shared in her presentation with us – our attention span is limited.

Far better to stick to the crucial information rather than drown your readers in a sea of words.  Plus then you’ve got enough material for a sequel.

Thank goodness for computers as we move things around and get more into the flow of the books.  I’ve got three books already under my belt, but each time it’s like giving birth and there are times when you just want to go into premature labour.  But it’s always best to stick with it for the long haul and deliver your new bundle when it’s ready to be shared with the world.

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