Do not write a business book if…
The thing about business books is that most of them are boring. This is not just my opinion – it is a fact. Ask any business owner or entrepreneur how many business books are lining their shelves. Then ask how many they have read. I can’t give you an official figure, but my casual research suggests the average tends to be less than 20%.
There are two conclusions you can draw from that information. People are more interested in shelf-decoration (reputation-enhancing Zoom call backgrounds) than self-education, or they gave up a few pages beyond the clever title adorning the boring textbook. It is probably a mixture of the two. But here is the thing you should remember:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt?
If someone reads a few pages of your book before returning it to the shelf out of boredom or disinterested disdain, what will they think about you? Hmmm, was that really what you wanted your efforts and wisdom to achieve?
Putting aside the ongoing argument of who first uttered the wonderful quote above (Lincoln, Twain, Johnson or Hemmingway), its truth speaks volumes. (Whoever it was, they probably took inspiration from the Bible anyway. ‘Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise: and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding’ Proverbs 17:28.) The point is you would be better off writing nothing at all than to publish a boring business book (or boring anything else for that matter).
Think about it: Who is the person most likely to read what you write? (No, I don’t mean your Mum.)
If you publish your book and sell 1000 copies, of which only 100 copies are opened and read from cover to cover, that 10% readership ‘will’ count more than the 90%. Aside from the ever-faithful friends and family, the next most likely person to read your book will be the one who might just want to do business with you. Because that person will want to know everything about you first. Yes, everyone who gets gifted a copy, sees you wave it around at a networking event or notes the ‘published author’ tag on your LinkedIn profile will be impressed. But the person whose opinion matters the most might actually read it.
For that reason alone – if you are going to go to the trouble of writing a business book – it had better be a good one.
So much more than the best business card ever
The truth is that requests for my writing services increased when my first published book became my best business card ever in 2013. But it was not until people got in touch to tell me how The Lazy Optimist inspired them to change their direction and chase their dreams that I felt my impact mattered. As a ghostwriter, my published work rarely bears my name, but the handful of pieces that do, simply have to speak volumes.
So, I would encourage to write your business book – and I hope it achieves all that you want it to, for you and your business. But please do this one thing for me. Make it good. Make it a book that your next best customer will want to read and then want to get in touch with you.
Let me leave you with four key elements of a good business book:
- Credibility: Have you been there and done that yourself?
- Practical value: Will you share something worth knowing or learning?
- Connection: Stories sell! Can yours keep the pages turning?
- Uniqueness: What is the angle? Why should people listen to you?