Sunday, November 24, 2019

Review of YOUR BUSINESS YOUR BOOK


Ginny Carter, a friendly British competitor of mine, graciously sent me a review copy of her newest book, Your Business Your Book, and I am impressed, though not surprised, by how good it is. It would certainly have been helpful to me when I wrote my business book, Write Your Book with Me, to promote my own company of that name.

Why write a business book? Ginny debunks nearly a dozen excuses people give for not writing theirs, then gets down to a few reasons that end up compelling the business person to become a writer: doing the book clears your thinking, serves as a thick business card, and puts you ahead of others in your industry who have not yet written theirs. You can stack yours on that table by your podium when you give the invited talk your new book attracted. Then sell and sign your book-baby to those in the audience eager to read it.

How to get from your here and now, bookless, to your there and then, being an author: PLAN, WRITE, PROMOTE, her three-part battle plan that includes her 17 valuable chapters. I’d list these chapters here, but the wise Ginny Carter purchased the “Look Inside the Book” option at amazon.com, and they are there in all their glory, part of the 10% or so of the book Amazon displays.

PLAN

It starts with thinking: what do I know that others would like to know?

Actually, it starts, as Ginny Carter explains, with setting aside the obstacles your mind: I don’t have time. It won’t be perfect. Where shall I start? I hate/can’t write. I don’t know enough. No one will read it. Too much competition! Some may dislike it. She answers these objections, then issues a warning: don’t write a book if you have limited knowledge of your business, if you are just starting out.

Tools: “something to write with, something to write on, and your brain.” You’ve got these. She adds that a place to write with few interruptions will help. Computer? Yes. Software? Microsoft Word or even better, Scrivener. (I use Word.)

Size: topics influence size. Something around 40,000 words will work, though e-books can be shorter and major efforts can be longer.

Time: “Longer than you think, then double it.” Like Ginny, I coach and edit writers. I find it will take hundreds of hours of work but not thousands before their book is done. She recommends counting words in some of your own blog posts, then tripling the time per word to adjust for research and editing.

Enterprise: You should be in a field where writing a book will advance you, such as coaching, consultancy, speaking. Ginny herself does these.

More excellent advice: know what you want your book to achieve. I am reminded of Covey’s “Begin with the end in mind.” Ginny and I would want more clients.

Generally, you will make your money from something other than selling your book. Some common goals: help readers, be seen as an expert, attract clients, get speaking opportunities, establish yourself in a new niche, build and email list, sell coaching or a training program, gain satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Without your having clear goals, your book is likely to achieve little.

For whom are you writing this book? Ginny agrees with other coaches who advise would-be authors to create an “avatar,” an imaginary reader about whom you think you know a great deal. Then, streamline your book, direct it to your target audiences, such as future clients, customers.

“Unearth the gold,” by which Ginny Carter would have us understand, “Readers don’t buy books, they buy solutions that make them feel good.” Think about that long and hard. As others have written, the reader wants WIIFM, “What’s In It For Me?” She advises we give them what they want, not what we think they need.

Some other hints: What would your reader do “even if…”? What makes the writer special? What are you passionate about? You can have quite a following if even a small percentage of a large population agrees strongly with you. You’ll need to know your stuff well to pull this off.

She urges would-be authors to fill in this crucial information, “I want to help [my target readers] to [my expertise] so they can [the result for them] and so I can [my goal for myself].”

Return on Investment [ROI]: make sure you get some! More and better clients, opportunities, connections. To maximize these, you need Lead Magnets (giving something away to build an email list, for example), Seeding (noting your own business successes occasionally in your book), Recruiting Influencers (getting some others to participate and eventually to promote). Ms. Carter lists plenty of tips for doing these marketing things well, and she advises that one take advantage of a few social media, like LinkedIn and Twitter, but not spread oneself thin on too many.

Title: Love at first sight? The beginning of your seduction of the prospective reader is your title. Don’t blow this. Her title itself is excellent: Your Business Your Book, pithy and personal, telling you what you’ll be getting. Memorable. What benefit? What feelings? Name the audience, Nice Girls…. Make it intriguing, perhaps contradictory, like The Millionaire Next Door. See what Amazon has already. Then, flesh it out, “Your subtitle does the heavy lifting for the main title….” One of my own writing clients published Good Grief, about making the best of a bad situation.

Skeleton: Your book will flesh out the skeleton/outline you create first. Ginny Carter describes Mind Mapping and the use of Sticky Notes. I like to put the book in a skeletal file that starts with a Title Page and goes on to Dedication, etc., through the chapters and to the end notes.

Book type: Self-help, how-too, transformational memoir, thought-leading-inspirational, interviews…all are described in useful detail. In some doubt? Check some books you have found valuable.

Outline, outline, outline: Here’s an example:

- Introduction: set up
- State the main point
- Make subsidiary points
- Give stories and examples
- Conclude, summarize.

Types of readers: Ginny Carter notes that some need to know Why? Some What? Some How? Some What if? Cater to all four. Tell them why to do it, what to do, how to do it, and responses to what if?

Mine what you have written already and bring a pen with you everywhere, jotting notes on paper or even your hand.

WRITE

Put your arguments in a plausible order. Write each simply and clearly. Bring your reader along. She tells an amusing story about current teenagers trying to make a phone call with an old rotary-dial phone. (Pick up the receiver first!) As you write, make every paragraph count. “Use plain English.” Be sparse. I think authors/editors Strunk and White wrote, “omit needless words.” Carter adds, “punctuate for effect”…clarity and variety.

Persuasive writing: Your Introduction should “capture your readers’ interest and earn their trust.” Why should they listen to you? Write your Introduction last. Tell what the book is about. Be empathetic. Summarize your solution. Explain why you are credible. Promise benefits. Seduce the reader to keep going chapter by chapter: start and end each strongly, give specifics, use metaphors (she cites Mardy Grothe’s I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like, and gives some ideas about constructing metaphorical bridges to subjects), mean what you say and say what you mean and say it the way you would say it in person, avoiding clich├ęs and adverbs and repetition. Tell stories, personal ones if possible, and make points with them: have a hook, set the scene, add conflict, let it develop, resolve it, call to action.

Resistance: fear is the source of most “writer’s block.” Fear of what? Rejection? Incompletion? Inadequacy? Well, write…though scared. Or dictate. Microsoft Word has a dictation capability, and before that, I used Dragon Naturally Speaking, which Carter notes favorably.

Carter and I also favor the rotten first draft, as something beats nothing every time, agreeing with Ann Lamott’s advice in her Bird by Bird. Just don’t send it out to your client!

“Don’t write the book yourself….50% of nonfiction bestsellers are ghostwritten….” That’s too bad, and I am not in favor of it, but I’m not a ghostwriter, although not everything one writes gets one’s name on it. Editors add as well as subtract. Carter has a half-dozen good reasons why there are advantages to using a ghostwriter. I agree; just make yours a co-author.

Carter also coaches, and so do I. The author has to do more of the work but will learn from the experience, pay less, and be the actual author. Coaches help plan, motivate, edit, and advise on promoting your work.

EDIT

Carter has a great Mark Twain quote to start this section, “Editing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” Strunk and White in their classic, Elements of Style, urge, “Omit needless words.” A famous author (the name is forgotten) advised us to “kill our darlings.” Some stuff is not darling, and the unattractive parts are like blemishes on an otherwise pretty face. She and I agree: write the first draft before nit-picking it, or as she quotes, “draft hot, edit cold.”

The steps Ginny Carter recommends include a sticky-note paste-up of the chapters and printing-out of the book, followed by editing for content and readability, correcting, editing for style, including variety and rhythm. Then, hire an editor! The better the draft and the better the editor, the better the book. Well, if you can afford it, she’d have you start with an editor who helps with the structure, then one for the copy, and finally a proofreader.

Next, come beta readers, people who are kind enough to critique your draft final and who resemble your target audience.

Finish! She quotes Erica Jong on how hard it is to declare the book is done. I had a client who could not stop “improving” his book and never published it. Once it is done, you will be judged. Takes courage.

Bits and pieces are discussed: Praise, Foreword, Acknowledgments, About the Author. Her insight all helps.

PUBLISH

Ginny Carter knows the publishing options well: traditional publishers, self-publishing, and hybrid/partner versions of these two. She discusses and dissects all three…in depth. I found I agreed with her, but I won’t go into that here. We have both found that for the non-famous, but talented, people we help, the hybrid/partner publishers are most suitable.

PROMOTE

She tells the bad news–promotion is a risky gamble–with the good news–almost anything good you do will add to your “fame” and “stature.”

Pre-publication: have an Internet author website, be active on social media, find allies to serve as beta readers or reviewers. Read Joanna Penn’s How to Market a Book.

Post-publication: add more social media plus talks and interviews now that you have a published book, rather than a prospective one. Blog. Email. Twitter. Facebook. Consider those to be verbs! Use Amazon to the max: author page, even mutual reviews with other authors. Get LinkedIn? Maybe. YouTube is the second-biggest search engine after Google. Podcasts? There are many, most with small audiences, but some have just the people you want to reach.

Details of having a successful email list are given. You may not want to bother, but most who advise us on selling our books recommend it.

One of my own coaching clients has given roughly fifty little book talks, at libraries, senior centers, bookstores, and a few radio and television outlets. It’s sort of old-fashioned “offline” promotion that Carter describes, as well; it has not made my client’s book a bestseller, but has made some worthwhile contacts for her, and has provided an enjoyable hobby.

Something like a million new book titles will be published in the USA this year. Only a small fraction will be popular enough for you to have heard of them. Your book is not likely to be among them. However, it can reach friends, family, associates, neighbors, potential clients, and just possibly a much wider audience, if you are skilled…and lucky.

NET

Ms. Carter’s book will help her readers hone their skills and produce a better business book than they would have otherwise, and it will enable them to make sound choices about publication and promotion, after which all they need to do for their book to be a wild success is to promote it vigorously…and get lucky.
Your Business, Your Book: How to plan, write, and promote the book that puts you in the spotlight

To get Ginny Carter's book, go to amazon.com:



To have me help you write, finish, and publish your own book, go to  WriteYourBookWithMe.com

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