The idea of writing a book crosses most people’s minds at some point – there is a saying that everyone has at least one book in them – but have you ever seriously thought about it?

If you are a business owner, trainer, coach, consultant or speaker to have a book with your name on it is a powerful marketing tool.

If you can put ‘author’ after your name, you’ll get a level of respect that your competitors will have to work very hard to achieve.  A book is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and enable you to reach out beyond your immediate network.

These are good reasons to write a book – but you do need to write a good book to achieve the outcomes you want.  Not all books are good!  Some are barely readable!

What makes a good book?

The first essential is that you have a clear message.  Regurgitating other people’s ideas won’t get you decent reviews. 

There are many books on virtually any subject you care to name, but that doesn’t mean you need to come up with someone completely new.  What you do need is your own unique approach to this subject.  What will make your book work is – YOU!

If people are interested in a subject they will read lots of books around this subject.  They’re looking for insights from different perspectives – and your take on the subject is what will make your book stand out.

A good book needs more than just a clear focus though – it needs to be well structured and, more importantly, edited by a professional.

When you’re writing a non-fiction book you definitely need a structure to gather information around each of the contributing subjects that sit under the main umbrella.  If you plan your structure before you start to write you’ll find the writing much easier as you will have a ‘map’ of where you’re going.  All you need to do is to fill in the detail.

Editing isn’t optional.  No matter how good a writer you are, an experienced editor is important.  They’re not there to correct your spelling, grammar and punctuation, but to ensure the content and context works for the reader from the first page to the last.

An editor will see things the author is too close to see and will suggest things like:

  • Developing an idea with more detail
  • Moving specific pieces of information to a better place in the narrative
  • Adding a case study or anecdote to demonstrate a point
  • Taking out unnecessary detail that may cloud the message
  • Improving the chapter ‘recipe’ to make it more appealing for the reader
  • Polishing the copy to give it more energy and make it more readable.

The spelling, grammar and punctuation will be tidied up as the editor works – but it’s still important that the final manuscript is worked through by a proof reader to do a final tidy up.

How to get started

Ideally, get some advice from a professional.  That might be a publisher, an agent or an editor who can help you to put together your plan.

You may find it useful to talk to your clients about what they would want to know from a book on your specialist subject.

You also need to research other books and authors in the genre you plan to write in – to ensure you’re not reinventing the wheel.  What are you bringing to the table that is a different spin on the subject – or offers a different approach to it?

Whether you’re comfortable writing or not – if you’re serious about writing a book – put writing time in your diary in regular slots.  With your book structure in place you should not be facing ‘blank screen syndrome’ and as long as you stick at it, you could be surprised at how quickly your first draft is completed.