“Where do I start?” That’s what everyone wants to know. Here’s the answer, from strategic book development and writing coach, Robin Colucci.
“Where do I start?” That’s what everyone wants to know.
I’m a strategic book development and writing coach, so I hear this question about once a week. Or more.
Recently, I saw someone post this question on a friend’s Facebook page, and there were all sorts of answers in the comments section — start with the title, start with an outline, start with the cover, just start writing.
Those are all important elements to work toward, but if you’re writing a book to grow your business, then you shouldn’t start with the book. You should start with the business.
People are often surprised when I give this advice, but I’m a big believer in keeping the main the main thing. If you get turned around and tangled up, and you start to make the book the main thing, then you’re going to have to work backwards to shoehorn your book into your business. That’s not what you want. You want your book to be an organic extension of and advocate for your company.
You’re writing a book to grow your business. Not just to get a publishing deal. Not only to sell copies.
Think about it: if you got a big publishing deal and sold thousands of copies and reviewers called your book the “great American novel,” but your business fell apart in the process, would you have achieved your goal?
If the answer is yes, you’re reading the wrong blog. Go quit your business and start writing novels. But if the answer is no — if you’re writing a book to scale your business and your impact — then here’s where you need to start: Clarity.
- Get clear on who you are
What sets you and your company apart? What is your unique value proposition? What do you have to offer?
- Get clear on your vision for your business. Where do you see your business in 3 to 5 years? What activities are you doing? How much money do you want to make?
- Get clear on what you’re going to do with the book once it’s finished.
How do you plan to use it? Do you want your book to be a sales tool? Is it going to help you streamline delivery of service? Or perhaps you’re using the writing process as a vehicle for developing new products and services? Are you going to turn chapters into white-papers or repurposed the content for workshops? Are you going to use the book to attract speaking gigs?
Understanding how you plan to use the book will help you determine what sort of book you ought to write and what sort of content you ought to cover.
- Get clear on your target audience and why they’d want to read your book.
You’ll never make any headway if you’re trying to get everyone to read your book.
As publishers and agents will tell you, a book that’s for everyone is for no one. It must have a target market. You can have great success targeting a niche audience with focused messaging
So think about your business: what does your ideal client look like?
That’s your target audience for this book.
And once you’ve identified your target, ask yourself why they’d want to read your book. What kind of value will it offer them?
- Get clear on a call to action.
What do you want your readers to do once they’ve read the book? What’s the next step that you’d like them to take? Whatever the answer is, you’ll need to organize your book so that it builds toward that final call to action, without reading like a 200 page sales letter.
I’ve seen a lot of people start writing without clarity on these five points, and let me tell you, it doesn’t end well. Or, I should say, it doesn’t end. Too often, these people write themselves in circles and they never finish their books.
If you start without this clarity, your writing process will be plagued by false starts and misfires.
If you start with this clarity, your writing process can be efficient, productive, and instructive.
And if you’d like to go deeper, you can check out my book, How To Write A Book That Sells YOU.
You can check out my all books here.