10 Steps To Write A Business Book
If you’re a business leader, you’ve probably been asked a time or two to share your secrets to success. Business leaders possess unique insight, experience, and wisdom that is highly valued by both their communities and general audiences. The tricky part is communicating these ideas effectively. Writing a business book may seem like a monumental challenge, but with proper strategy, discipline, and patience, anyone can achieve their literary goals.
You may think you don’t have enough information to fill an entire book. You are mistaken. At Write It Great, we’ve helped several authors take the seed of an idea, and turn it into a full-length business book. Some of our clients came to us believing their idea should be circulated through a newsletter, article, or keynote presentation. However, after putting in the work with our professional writers, they found out they had so much more to share.
In this article, we’ll show you the best ten-step strategy for writing a business book.
How Do I Write A Business Book?
Like most disciplines, the key to successful writing is preparation. Writers must devise a plan of attack, and do their best to stick to that plan and achieve their goals. At Write It Great, each step of our writing process is tackled with clear intentions, objectives, and deadlines. Through strong organization, we take an overwhelming task and break it into manageable steps.
1. Choose A Topic You’re Passionate About
There’s no point in writing a book if you’re not passionate about your subject matter. Your passion and enthusiasm is what will help you through the most difficult stages of the process. It will also translate to your readers and make your work a must-read for your audience.
Of course, passion isn’t the only thing to think about when choosing your topic. You may have a passion for seahorses but that doesn’t make you a marine biologist. On top of passion, you must also have knowledge. You must be an expert on your topic with the experience that allows you to bring something unique to the table.
Finally, choose a topic that aligns with the reasons you’d like to author a book. If your goal is to sell as many copies as possible, your topic should appeal to wide audiences. If your goal is to gain credibility in your field or to gain new clients, choose a topic with that audience in mind. Which brings us to…
2. Define Your Target Audience
When you write a book with the intent of publishing it, that book is no longer just for you — it’s for your readers. Authors of business books often make the mistake of prioritizing what they want to share over what their audience wants to learn. When defining your target audience, a writer must ask themselves important questions:
Who is your target audience?
Picture your reader: How old are they? What is their experience level? Their job title? All of these things will inform your writing. Once you’ve defined a reader, put yourself in their shoes, and write the book they want to read.
What does your audience hope to gain from your book?
As you picture your reader picking your book up off the shelf, ask yourself: What are they hoping to gain? What problems do they have that your book will solve? What questions do they have that you can provide the answers to? While writing, always keep these questions in mind to ensure your writing stays focused.
How specific is your target audience?
Is this book for everyone, or only people in a certain industry? Is it specifically for college grads entering the workforce, or older professionals looking to spark their career? These questions will help you market your book, as well as set expectations regarding sales and exposure.
The specificity of your audience will change the way you write: For example, if your book is targeted at only professionals in a certain field, you’ll be comfortable using industry-specific jargon that not everyone knows.
3. Analyze The Marketplace
Before you write, you must familiarize yourself with the space your book will enter, as well as the content and audience populating that space. What books have already been successful in this category, and more importantly, how is your book different? For example, if you’re writing a book about entrepreneurship in the apparel industry, you would be wise to first read the bestselling Shoedog written by Phil Knight (with acclaimed ghostwriter J. R. Moehringer).
Analyzing the marketplace will help inform the structural and stylistic choices you make. How long are the books that have succeeded in your market? What about the chapter length? Do they include visual aids like pictures and diagrams, or are they text-only? While your content will be as original as possible, authors can learn a lot by studying what their target audience has responded to in the past.
4. Do Your Research
Even though you’re an expert in your topic, you’ll need additional research to provide your audience with a business book of the highest quality. While a unique perspective and personal experience is vital, you’re going to need more than that to support your arguments. There are a few research methods for writers to employ:
Conduct A Literature Review
In a similar vein as your market analysis, you must also conduct a substantive literature review before beginning your book. This involves identifying key books, articles, and other sources of information on the topic, and reading them to gain a broad understanding of the existing research. You can use online databases, such as JSTOR, Google Scholar, and the Business Source Complete to find relevant articles and books.
Another important step in researching a business book is conducting primary research. This can include interviewing other experts in the field, surveying customers or employees, or gathering data through case studies or experiments. These methods can provide valuable insights and help to support the claims you make in your book.
Utilize Your Network
As a business leader, you likely have a network of other professionals in your industry who have valuable wisdom to share. Ask them to discuss your topic with you, or share their own experiences in your profession. Be sure to ask their approval before sharing any personal anecdotes of theirs.
Stay Up To Date
While some business books, such as How To Win Friends And Influence People (1936) are timeless, many are more ephemeral. Consequently, authors must stay up to date with current events and developments in the field. If you sense industry norms changing as you write your book, modify your book to reflect that. While research is step four of our process, you will continue to research throughout the entire process.
5. Create An Outline
When writing a business book, it's vital to have a clear structure and organization in order to effectively communicate your ideas to your readers. A well-outlined book can help you stay on track as you write, and make the editing and revisions process smoother. If you begin writing your book without an outline, you may quickly lose track of your through-line. The result will be a meandering final product without a clear thesis argument. Every book is different, but each outline should consist of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
Your introduction should take the most time and effort, as it is your reader’s first impression of your book, and the part of the book that will inspire them to keep reading. A good introduction should have three main elements:
Hook — Capture the reader's attention with a compelling statement or question related to the topic of the book.
Overview — Provide a general overview of the book, including its main themes and the main points you will cover.
Purpose — Explain why you wrote the book and why it is important for the reader to read it.
The body of your business book should be divided into chapters or sections, each of which covers a specific aspect of your topic. It should be organized in a logical manner, with a thesis statement, supporting arguments, and clear transitions between sections. Each chapter should have a clear focus and a main argument or point to be made.
The conclusion to your business book should accomplish a few goals:
Summarize the main points covered in the book and their importance.
Offer some final thoughts, advice or call-to-action for the reader.
Close the book with a memorable statement or final note.
6. Write A Draft
Now comes the fun part: Sitting down and writing a first draft of your business book. Your first draft will never be your last draft, so don’t try to make it perfect in one go. The purpose of your first draft is simply to get all your thoughts, ideas, and arguments down on paper. The more detailed your outline is, the easier your first draft will be to write.
If you’re new to writing books, there are several strategies to tackle this process.
First, it’s vital to set aside dedicated writing time. This will help you make steady progress, stay focused, and reach your writing goals. Second, you must find out what type of environment works best for you. Are you a morning writer or a night writer? Do you need total silence, or the buzz of a coffee shop? Third, create accountability for yourself. This can be done through page count goals, personal deadlines with rewards and punishments, or finding a writing partner who can help to hold you accountable.
7. Receive Feedback and Rewrite
Ernest Hemingway said “the only kind of writing is rewriting." Once you’ve finished with your first draft, it’s time to gain feedback and rewrite.
You can gather feedback from many different sources. While friends and family will be eager to help, you’ll want to also obtain feedback from objective readers. Consider swapping books with another up-and-coming writer, joining a writers group, or paying for feedback from trusted online sources. Test the book out by giving it to a reader who fits your target demographic.
When receiving feedback, it’s vital to be open-minded. While it may sting to hear any criticisms of your work, the reactions to your writing will allow you to learn what’s working and what isn’t. Then, when you tackle your rewrite, you’ll be sure to see great improvement from one draft to the next.
This two-part step — feedback and rewriting — will likely be performed multiple times before you move on to the final editing process. Be patient!
8. Consider Hiring An Editor
You may think you can edit your book yourself. However, if you have the means, hiring a professional editor is the way to go. Just like a professional electrician or plumber, a professional editor will have the experience, knowledge, and skill to dissect your book at a higher level than anyone else.
There are four main types of editors. You may need one or more of these editors to get your book into the best shape possible before publication.
Developmental Editors — Developmental editors evaluate books on a big picture level. They look at elements such as thesis argument, structure, themes, and strength of arguments.
Line Editors — Line editors work on a line-by-line level. They evaluate an author’s tonal and stylistic consistency, paragraph structure and clarity.
Copy Editors — Copy editors are the most detail-oriented editors. They comb through your work to catch small mistakes, including improper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Proofreaders — Proofreaders are the last line of defense between your book and its audience. They ensure that your work is completely error-free.
For more on editing, check out this article.
9. Know Your Publishing Options
Once you have a book that is edited and ready for a wide audience, it’s time to get it published. There are multiple ways to publish a business book.
It’s easier than ever to self-publish your business book using platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Draft2Digital, and Lulu. Self-publishing means the responsibility of things like editing, cover art, and marketing fall on the author’s shoulders.
Finding A Publisher
Traditional publishers are the best route if you want your book to reach as many people as possible. The best way to find a publisher is through a literary agent or manager, who will then submit work on your behalf. The publishing industry is competitive and it may take some time to find a publisher for your book, so be prepared to be patient and persistent.
Publishing Through A Ghostwriting Company
When you hire a ghostwriting company to help write your book, that company can help you publish it as well. At Write It Great, we not only help our clients express their ideas in writing, we also ensure that by the end of the process, they are published authors.
10. Marketing and Promotion
Now that you’ve published your business book, there are two things you need to do. First — give yourself a pat on the back! Second — market the book to your audience.
There are several methods to market your book. Start by leveraging your personal network to get the book shared within your industry. Next, establish a brand for yourself through a website and social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and TikTok. Create engaging content in the form of posts, blogs, and videos. Offline, consider a book launch event to build hype, and schedule speaking events to build your visibility.
Paid advertising is also worthwhile if done correctly. Advertisements on platforms like Amazon, Goodreads, Google AdWords, and Facebook can be an effective way to target specific audiences and reach potential readers.
Authoring a business book is a challenging yet ultimately rewarding task. With the right game plan, anyone can take their big idea and turn it into a book worth reading. You might get stuck along the way, but ghostwriters like the team at WriteItGreat are here to help. If you’re writing a business book, check out our other writing guides on our blog, or get in touch with a professional ghostwriter today.