A recent examination of Amazons catalogue indicated there are over 1.8 million business books available, with 22,161 new books added just in the last 90 days.
But how many of them get read?
According to Amazon 2015 sales data, on average 37 business books are sold each day. But they lag far behind the massive fiction book sales (634 sales per day) and rank 8th in non-fiction sales, well behind teen & young adult, religion & spirituality, children’s books and biographies.
Of course, business books are not always written to be sold. Many are used to provide profile for the author, to add credibility to their credentials.
The e-book has become the modern day business card, and it definitely helps to launch a personal brand when you have a book to your name. It’s just that not all business books are created equal, probably because it’s just a bit too easy to produce one.
Thanks to the digital age, the ease of information and print-on demand book services there are almost zero barriers to publishing a business book to leverage your brand. Even cost is no longer a hurdle, according to Best Selling Ghost Writer, Rodney Miles, it’s “possible to write and publish a book completely for free”.
Mr. Miles, a professional writer and editor who has been the driving force behind hundreds of business books says it’s true that “someone who writes a book on a subject is viewed as an expert”, but warns that it can negatively reflect on your personal brand “if your book is poorly written”.
Mr. Miles suggests writing a business book is a great way to open doors to speaking opportunities and media coverage, but many new authors are totally unfamiliar with the details and work required.
This includes book structure, function, target audience, contents, chapter headings, page numbering, credits, image layout, cover design, editing, spell checking, format, conversion, upload…and that’s just getting it onto a platform like Amazon, let alone getting reviews, promotions and pricing.
Many professional business people who decide to write a book, rapidly realizeit’s not as straightforward as it first appears, and although they think they can trade ‘sweat equity’, when you are also running a business, there simply isn’t the time to get to grips with the entire process.
Time is one of the biggest factors why most self published books don’t make it.
These are the books that either get started and left un-finished as pieces of inspiration, insight and information lightly strung together as a mind-map, scraps of paper or partially typed chapters, or they get written but never properly polished or promoted. They sit in garages or in the dusty depths of Amazons servers.
International sales trainer, Jim Rohn once said “The book you don’t read, won’t help” and that’s one of the biggest problems with business books.
Much as the original idea is to write a valuable, useful and helpful manual for professionals, so many of them never get written, never get seen, never get read.
Mostly because a good book takes time.
Rodney highlights that most of the people he works with are “perhaps at the busiest time of their lives” and this is, in his opinion “often the right time” to generate a book”. When you are busy, your mind is creative, you are on the edge of genius and in the zone of productivity.
But it can be hard to maintain the momentum and enticing to skip on quality in order to just get the damned thing done and that’s where he suggests “having a coach, mentor or partner, someone who makes you more accountable, can make all the difference.”
Even then, you need to find someone who you click with, who understands how you operate and if you need pushing, supporting or the done-for-you approach.
I’m a best selling Amazon author even though at eight years old I was told by my English teacher that I would never learn to read or write properly because I had ‘word-blindness’. Of course I was determined to prove him wrong, turning my dyslexia into a talent, and that’s exactly what he knew I would do.
The lesson is, if you want to have a business book that isn’t just written, it’s well written and well read by your ideal prospects, you are going to need a ton of determination.
Rodney’s suggestion if you want to be taken seriously and recognised as some kind of expert, you are going to have to get serious about the quality of your book.
Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Work Week once advised a business book author “not to hold back, to write your first book as if it were your last.” and Rodney agrees, stating that “the best and ultimate way to stand out is to treat it as a professional project and end up with a book that stands on its own merits.”
Taking this approach can overcome the fear of your book being considered poor quality, gaining negative reviews or being swallowed into a book abyss with all the other business e-books out there.
International best-selling author Erica Jong once said she went for years not finishing anything because, “of course, when you finish something you can be judged.”
It all comes down to the reason why you want to pen a business book in the first place.
The first question Rodney asks his clients is “Why do you want to write a book?”. He says that determining the books purpose also decides the tone and flow of the content.
Here are his suggestions on a books purpose:
- If you want to document your particular expertise, the book will be produced more like a thesis for your peers,
- If it’s a positioning book for greater credibility the book alone does a lot of that but you will also want to touch on certain accomplishments and vision,
- If you’re after closing sales and turning prospects into clients you might include more personal aspects to create great engagement so they can get to know you and like and trust you as well.
This first step is defining the books role, which in turn, guides the writing for the reader, but Rodney encourages clients to take it a step further by separating your book from the competition or creating a new market by choosing a niche that fits you. He says “you can then really write to your audience.”
So what makes a good book turn bad?
Having worked with hundreds of authors, Rodney believes the number one mistake most independent writers make is rushing to publish.
The best way to produce a bad book is having an unreasonable deadline and then skipping certain elements like editing or great cover design, then putting out your authority building book, without perfecting it. Instead of promoting your personal brand it can ruin your reputation.
He says “having a book at all, is still unique and highly respected”, but that with over a million books published each year, “the professionalism of your project (editing, cover, a proper launch so you gather enough reviews) will make it stand out further.”
If you are thinking of writing a business book or have one roughly formed or half written, please do finish it, polish it and publish it because, in the words of great American author and poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ‘Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.’