Social media, networking and email subscription have long been on everyone’s marketing plan. Publishing a book is now the trend.
Many successful businesses have launched their business, or grew their business, by publishing a book.
A book can set a you or your business apart and show your expertise. It can show that you are an authority on a particular subject; that people can turn to you to find the answers they need, either by purchasing your book or by talking to you directly.
Most businesses that have published a book use it as a marketing tool, but not a source of income. A book will most likely not generate a huge profit on its own, but it can bring other benefits to your business.
A book can
But I don’t know how to write!
Not everyone is a writer. But you are an expert in your field – it is your skill in that area that will make a reader pick up your book and hope to find out what works for you and what makes your approach unique and achieve outcomes. You will be good at explaining what you do to your clients, so think about how you use your experience to do what you do best: getting great results with your clients by explaining and talking to them.
Of course, you want it to look professional, too, and you don’t want to people to lose trust in you by producing a low-quality product. But the refining, editing and making it look professional part comes later, and you can hire an expert to help you with this if you are not confident in doing it yourself. For now, just get writing.
Where do you start? Here are some tips to get you going.
1. Define your unique sales position
Give the reader a reason to choose your book over another. Decide what it is you want to achieve with your book. Ask yourself what it is you want to show. What is it that makes your business unique and sets apart from the competition? What can you bring to your readers?
It will help sales and recognition if the book fits into a category that is already under high demand. Go to your local bookshop and look at the shelf which has books similar to your business and see which category has the most books in it. Then choose a topic within that category that sets you apart.
A topic that has a big impact on a smaller group of people will do better than a very wide, general topic. Stick to this topic and don’t be tempted to cover everything else too.
Something to keep in mind is that in most cases a reader won’t buy the book just for the book, and, unless you are already famous, they won’t buy it just because you wrote it – they want it for what it can do for them. Make sure you are going to solve their problem.
2. Write an outline
Some writers like to just start writing and see where it takes them, but if you have never written a book before – or even if you have – it’s a good idea to write an outline of your book and then fill in the blanks. This helps to keep a firm focus on your topic.
There is no one right format for an outline. You will need to decide what works best for the topic. If you have a list of separate main topics, then use them as the chapter headings. If you are discussing a system or checklist, then use each step for a chapter heading.
Once you have the chapters sorted – called the body of the text – you can add the other parts of the book. The two obvious main sections are the introduction and the conclusion. And there are other, smaller sections and headings that can also be included. My blog post on the order of the parts of a book gives you the full list of sections and tells you which sections are compulsory and which are optional.
3. Fill in the blanks
This may feel like the hard part. The best advice is to just get something on paper and then refine it. You can’t work with blank pages. Once you start writing, you may find it just flows. Or break each chapter into smaller chunks using sub-headings and work on each chunk, one at a time. Before you know it, you will have written more than you thought.
Decide on the tone of your writing. Are you going to be chatty and informal, or business-like? Think of your target audience. Will they understand jargon or should you stick to Plain English? It’s important to be consistent with your tone so that the reader knows what to expect throughout the book.
It’s a good idea to write the introduction once you have the body of your book finished so that you have a better idea of what direction the book took and what the reader needs to know. An introduction should hook the reader. As Kelly Exeter suggests, an introduction should have three parts: a story to hook the reader, showing the reader why they should listen to you, and then a rough outline.
Finally, write the conclusion. This summarises what was covered throughout the book and can include a call to action – it is, after all, why you wrote the book.
Will you use illustrations and images? If so, you will need to hire an illustrator or source the images in good time. Remember to keep in mind copyright and permissions.
Any non-fiction book should use facts to show credibility. Some non-fiction books tend to use them more than others, for example, self-help books will use less research and draw more from the author’s experiences, but there will still be a need to use research or facts to support an argument. The sources of the quotes and facts should be properly cited and referenced. As long as you have the source information, an editor can help you with the correct format of citations and references. But if you prefer to do it yourself, Massey University has a good resource on the requirements for citations and references.
5. Finishing your book
Once you have finished your draft, it’s important to self-edit as much as you can, and then you can hire a professional to ensure you have a professional-looking product. An editor will work with you to ensure your writing is clear and compelling and says exactly what you what it to say. And a proofreader will make sure there are no glaring typos or spelling and grammatical errors that will detract from the work.
Even if you consider yourself to be a good writer, it’s important to get a fresh pair of eyes on your writing, and a professional editor will know what to look for to make your writing consistent and work well for your audience. It goes without saying that if the reader doesn’t trust the book, they are not going to trust your business.
Once you have the manuscript edited and ready for publishing, you will need to get it designed by a book designer then printed for hard copies, or converted into an e-book, or both. You can read more about self-publishing options in New Zealand here.
If you are writing or have written a book and this all sounds too overwhelming, I can help.
I am a copy-editor and proofreader based in New Zealand. My business, Clearlingo Editing and Proofreading, caters to all writers of non-fiction books. I can discuss with you where your book is at and what you need to do next.
For more information on how I can help you make your book shine, please contact me.
I would love to hear from you.
Marja Stack is an editor and plain language consultant based in New Zealand. She is the owner of Clearlingo Editing and Proofreading, which caters to all writers of non-fiction books, business publications and cookbooks. For more information or enquiries on how she can help you make your writing shine, please see her website.
- What is plain English?
- Why you should use plain English
- How to write in plain English
New Zealand English Series
- NZE: How to use a semicolon
- NZE: The 'singular they'
- NZE: How to use italics
- NZE: How to write numbers
- NZE: How to write abbreviations
- NZE: How to punctuate dialogue
- NZE: hyphens, en dashes and em dashes
- NZE: How to write times and dates
- NZE: Possessives
- NZE: Is our spelling different?
- NZE: Burned vs Burnt
- NZE: Using Māori words in English text
- NZE: -ise vs -ize endings
- NZE: Single or double quote marks
- NZE: Punctuation inside or outside quotation marks?
The Editing Process
- How to write a non-fiction book that sells
- How to write a book to promote your business
- Copyright and Permissions
- How much does editing cost?
- How to self-publish your book in New Zealand
- When is my book ready for publishing?
- Types of editing
- 5 things to tell your editor
- The revision and editing process
- What are beta readers?
- What to expect when you get your manuscript back
- How to order the pages of a book
- Fact checking fiction writing
- Formatting your manuscript for submission
- How long does it take to edit a book?
- Why I belong to editing associations
- How to write recipes for cookbooks and blogs
- The basics of writing a cookbook
- How to use Tracked Changes in Word
- How to use basic Word Styles
- How to fix common formatting errors in Word