I am an avid reader. Not just business books, but all types of books. One of my favorite books is The Tipping Point by Macolm Gladwell. He is such an easy read, yet has a detailed style and cadence to his writing that even the exhaustive research information and exquisitely crafted stories he tells are easily absorbed. He is a professional writer and has honed his craft over many years writing for various publications, including The New Yorker. Now you may not posses his penchant for prose or have his vast writing experience, but you may have the desire to be a writer. Don’t be discouraged; you just need to have a well thought out plan of action.
My first book, The Everyday Entrepreneur, was just released by John Wiley & Sons. While I took the traditional route of working with a publisher, I had also seriously considered self publishing. Well, I actually took a dual path, telling myself that if I was not picked up by a solid publishing company I would self publish instead and would be happy with either outcome; while getting a publisher was my first choice, I was extremely passionate about sharing my story and writing a book.
Many business owners and entrepreneurs are brimming with creative ideas and a countless number of my colleagues have expressed their desire to write a book. Why is it that so few actually get around to doing it? Mostly, I think it is because they see the task as too daunting. It’s also difficult to figure out how to find a place to start. With that in mind, there are a few things you should consider when deciding if your writing bug is just a pesky house fly buzzing through your brain or a cockroach that just won’t die until you get it written. Here are five items that I believe you need to keep in mind when making your decision. Of course, there are more than 100 things you need to consider, but these are in the top ten for sure.
1. The idea
It all starts with that all powerful creative genesis that will be your theme and raison d’être for starting the project in the first place.
For me, I truly wanted to help other entrepreneurs realize their personal goals and help get American businesses headed in the right direction again. After 15 years of launching numerous successful entrepreneurial ventures, failing at business ventures, making investments, losing clients, getting new ones, co-founding a bank, suing people, getting sued, I had built up a pretty good track record. My experience provided me with the background to call myself an expert and help others. I felt the need to share my story and other inspirational stories that I had collected. So, what’s your story? Why do you need to tell this story? How passionate about this idea are you?
2. Are you going to use a co-writer?
I always thought I was a decent writer, but I was a bit uncertain that I could pull it all together the way I wanted in order to create the best possible final product. I chose to get help. You may decide that you don’t need the help and take a crack at going it alone. Kudos to you! Either direction has its pitfalls. Disagreements with your hired guns are common and going solo is lonely. Just make sure you choose wisely either way.
3. Why are people going to read your book? Who is your audience?
It’s great to get your creative juices flowing and write, even if you are the only one that is going to read it. For those that want others to read your work you need to determine why people will want to read whatever it is you have created. In my case I have a solid following of clients and professionals all over the country, and I generally stick to business topics that are in my area of expertise. These folks will most likely read my book because they are interested in the same topics I am interested in. Entrepreneurship is a topical and relevant subject to millions of people, especially in today’s economy.
4. Should you self-publish?
Publishers love great ideas, but they really love an author or budding author that has a solid following and has a built-in audience for their book. So, if you have no following and have no way to get your fans to purchase the book it may be more difficult for you to get a publisher to take notice. Now, this is not always true. We have all heard the stories of authors plucked out of seemingly nowhere and go on to sell millions of books. This should not deter you, but rather give you a reality check.
There are plenty of self publishers like iUniverse and Createspace that are pro’s at laying out and publishing your book. They can even create marketing plans for a fee. As I mentioned, I always had this as a backup if a publisher did not pick my book up. Ideally a traditional publisher is a great way to go even though first-time authors have much lower profit margins; I wanted the worldwide distribution that they offered. I also wanted my book to be read by as many people as possible, and I was not immediately concerned about profit.
5. How are you going to sell your book?
Don’t overestimate how much your publisher will help you if you have one. My publisher has been wonderful. Beyond their worldwide distribution, they have drafted press releases, created marketing material and booked numerous radio appearances to help me jumpstart my book’s release. However, it is simply never enough. You need to understand that you must eat, sleep and breathe your book to really have an impact on the masses, and you need to have your own marketing plan in place to help drive people to the stores or the web to buy your book.
If you are going on your own without a publisher, you need to be even more ready and willing to have a marketing plan that gets you in front of your readers—by using the Web, e-mail, speaking engagements, business events and having a presence anywhere potential purchasers will be. Forge strategic partnerships with organizations that may buy in bulk and foster relationships that will create repeat business.
We may never be an award winning author like Mr. Gladwell, but I would highly recommend the experience to anyone looking to express themselves, be heard, help others and build their personal brand. You may just catch on and be a household name. Happy writing.