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By now, you’ve probably heard the buzz in marketing circles about the hot new trend for business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, experts and professionals — creating a business-building book to describe and differentiate your expertise, approach or talent. And to open doors to new relationships and opportunities. Plus — and this is the ultimate prize for most business authors — to generate significant business growth.

As with most large and complex projects, getting started is often the hardest part. Whether you plan to sign with a traditional publisher or self-publish (known as independent publishing), the long list of decisions, choices and tasks for creating a quality book is daunting. And always there’s the puzzling question of where to start. Follow these 11 initial tasks, and you’ll be on your way to having a book that brings important results and catapults you above your competition.

1 — Create Measurable Strategic Goals

Begin by setting realistic, measurable, strategic goals for what you want your book to generate for your business. When do you want it finished and available? What are your first-year, second-year and long-term desired business results? Do you want more prospects, new buyers of your products/services, speaking and teaching invitations, media coverage, industry prominence and visibility, a base for creating new products/services, partnering offers, prestigious appointments, awards and honors, something else? Form clear and specific goals. They will determine many of the other decisions you’ll make as you create, distribute, publicize and market your book. Be sure they don’t work against each other. Then rank them in priority order so you know when to invest in each one. And identify your options and choices for accomplishing and measuring them.

2 — Define Target Audiences

Your business may have several target audiences. And your book can have several, too. The key here is to know which targets are essential to your goals, even if they aren’t the most important targets for your business. You’ll probably have 4-6 that your book-related growth goals depend on. Have a clear picture of each one in mind. How large a group they are. What they do professionally. Their preferences. How they think. Their knowledge level about your industry. How they spend their work time. Their problems and challenges. What they hope for, etc. Rank your target audiences in priority order that identifies the most important ones for reaching your goals. And note which goal(s) each audience influences.

3 — Identify Potential Topics

Your topic can come from either of two sources. One is what you already know, understand or have observed that your audience will appreciate learning because it solves a problem of theirs. Or brings them a benefit. The other is what you’d like to learn that would be helpful for your audience to know.

Whichever you choose, only focus on topics for your most important audiences. Make a list of potential book topics. Note the audience(s) from your 4-6 above that each one applies to. And don’t worry if it’s a long list. Then omit topics that aren’t related to any of your highest-priority audiences. Your topic list may still be long, but the next steps will shorten it.

4 — Research Your Field’s Current Information Sources

Creating a business-building book requires you to research the current published information in your field to learn which topics — among the ones you’re considering — have already been well-covered. ( is a good place to start. Or browse your professional association or local public and university libraries.) Those are topics you’ll want to omit from your list unless your version is a new spin or if your audience isn’t likely to have access to what’s already available (as with info that’s not broadly distributed — or is currently expensive, and you want to create an affordable version).

5 — Decide Appealing Book Types

There are more than 700 proven book types that can build a business and a brand. And over 222 of them often require less original writing than the typical business book. Examples of the 700+ types are various how-to books, a user manual, memoir, primer, something made simple. The 222+ fast-track types include a rule book, tips, lessons learned, an industry timeline, case studies, interviews, a book of lists, an illustrated history.  (Our family of workbooks identifies the 700+, each with two real-world examples. And we have blog posts, elist emails and a free book featuring 77 types in the sidebar to the right that reveal many dozen, as do long book lists and bookstore collections.)

After considering many, list the types you find most appealing. Then consider each of your remaining potential topics in light of those types. Develop a short list of topic-type possibilities you’d be excited to create. And eliminate topics that don’t work with any of the types you like. Your short list may become your roadmap for several books you write later. But choose no more than 10 topic-type combinations to consider for your first book. Finally, rank them according to the amount of impact and influence each might have on your high-priority target audiences.

6 — Choose Your Topic and Type

Your book can have several growth goals and multiple target audiences. But it should have only one main topic and either one type or a fusion of a few. (As an example, I once combined four types in a book about managing my industry’s stakeholders: public facts and figures (1), best tactical ideas (2) developed by corporate America and a file dump (3) of samples I’d collected during a decade — all presented as a training manual (4).)

Review your ranked list of topic-type combinations. Consider whether any would be inherently quicker/slower to finish or requires a researcher, indexer, artist, photographer, etc. (they involve extra expense and may slow your pace). Then decide which you’d most like to create and be known for. Choose the topic-type combination with the most attractive overall profile. And know there’s probably no bad choice near the top of your ranked list.

7 — Draft a Working Title and Subtitle

Think about the book titles that interest you, including books outside your field. How are they structured? What words do they use? Are they long or short? Do they have a rhyme or rhythm — or other feature such as alliteration — when you say them aloud?

Using the common title wording of your chosen book type (you can find that at or your favorite titles as guides, create some possible titles and subtitles for your book. Then show your list to several people in your target audience, to learn what appeals to them. (Forget about feedback from friends and family unless they are part of your target audience.) Also ask your targets what they think each proposed title is about, to be sure their opinion squares with your planned content. Choose only one title and subtitle to use while you’re creating your book. But keep any others with strong potential to re-consider later, before you finalize your title when your book is almost finished.

8 — Start to Promote Your Book

Now comes the fun part! Believe it or not, you can start achieving your growth goals just by mentioning your working title — before you even start creating your business-building book! (By that, I mean literally before you’ve written its first paragraph.) It may sound too good to be true. But look around. You’ll see authors everywhere pre-publicizing their upcoming book by mentioning its working title. (Pre-publicizing is industry jargon for pre-publication publicity activities.) They thereby let the world know about their expertise, ideas or talent now — which can lead to new projects, revenues, invitations and opportunities long before their book actually exists. (Of course, when their book eventually does exist, it reaches many more people who lead to even more of those desired results.)

Best of all, mentioning your working title costs nothing. And you can usually do it in numerous places — by adding a sentence to your email signature, elevator speech, voicemail greeting, website bio, social media profiles, press releases and marketing materials — in a single afternoon. Better yet, engage a cover designer to create a front cover to open the door to even more — and more powerful — pre-publicizing activities. Check out our blog post with our favorite 22 free/nearly free ways to pre-publicize your book. And watch for a workbook version to appear on our list of books for sale.

While you’re exploring our resources, take a look at two that will guide you through the research, decisions and activities mentioned above. A free workbook, 77 Book Types For Building Your Business & Brand, that takes you through our Spark Ultimate Book Start System is in the sidebar to the right. And through our Getting Started on Your Business-Building Book program, we’ll work with you individually for 4-6 weeks as you complete these steps.

9 — Hire Expertise

Two kinds of experts are essential to connect with in order to accomplish your book-related growth goals: a business-building book expert and a growth strategist. Without them both, your chances of creating the kind of business book success you seek will be low.

Your book project may involve over 100 decisions, choices and tasks. And just as with any specialized process — such as creating a PR or advertising program, becoming skilled at TV interviews, doing your business’ tax returns or filing a patent application — someone who knows the business-building book terrain and can advise you about the pros and cons along the way will help you make the right decisions and prevent many headaches. You’ll save time and money as well as avoid missed opportunities. You’ll also have a much better chance of achieving the results you seek from your book. In addition, that expert will ensure you’ve handled all the necessary issues. Including those that aren’t obvious.

You’ll also need an expert about the world of business growth — and the many things that generate or thwart it, depending on your industry. Plus the many convoluted paths that may lead to it. Your book’s results directly depend on your advisor’s experience in restructuring business strategies and growth plans to enable and ensure your book and business are a two-way street, aligned and mutually leveraging each other. And you need someone who knows what to modify in your business — and how — in order to create the strongest possible book-business synergy from having your book and business work TOGETHER toward the specific growth results you hope for. (Our Building Book-Business Synergy 4-6 week strategic consulting program is based on this knowledge and will reveal your unique path to success by defining your best options.)

10 — Develop a Plan for Your Book’s Creation and How You’ll Get It to Your Target Audiences

Just as your business has a PR, marketing and business plan, you need a book creation, distribution, promotion and marketing plan that identifies strategies and tactics appropriate for your business growth goals, target audiences related to those goals, ideal timeframe and available time and dollar resources. You can do this by yourself, with the help of a consultant or through a publisher. Start by choosing creation and distribution activities, put them on a 12-20 month calendar, and budget their cost. Do this before you begin creating your business-building book so you have time to make choice and/or pace adjustments if needed. And after a few month’s break while your book gets underway, start researching promotion and marketing tactics that you’ll plan around later.

11 — Start Building an Expert Team of Service Providers Who Understand a Book That’s a Marketing Tool

A business-building book is quite different from other kinds of nonfiction books. Even different from many business books that are only created to sell truckloads of copies. So be sure your team is experienced with growth goals and has a broader view beyond the average author’s of getting stellar book reviews and media coverage, bookstore shelf space and bestseller status. (If you’re creating a business-building book, those goals might not appear anywhere on your wishlist.) You instead need to work with experts experienced with the many specialized, complex and high-stakes issues surrounding a book designed to create big business results.

By completing these 11 tasks, you’ll have finished the foundational work and can start actually creating your business-building book.

Tap into our expertise about them via the free workbook in the sidebar to the right (77 Book Types For Building Your Business & Brand), the related posts below, our other multi-award-winning groundbreaking workbooks and our individual consulting programs.

Creating a printed business book is one option for business-building authors.

Related Posts:

Write a Book to Build a Business and Brand the Right Way: The Potential Benefits

Starting a Book to Grow a Business Begins with 4 Key Decisions

Write a Business Book to Grow Your Business — Initial Steps

How To Start a Book for Your Business Begins via 6 Steps About Your Why

Create a Business Book Only After Defining Audiences Related to Your Goals

Writing a Business Book That Ignites Growth Requires the Right Topic

Exactly What Is a Book Type?

Grow a Business with a Book that has the Right Topic-Type Combination

How to Promote Your Business Book Before It’s Written — 22 Ways!

Our Books to Help Aspiring Executive Authors

Getting Started on Your Business-Building Book consulting program

Building Book-Business Synergy consulting program

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