A non-fiction book, written by an entrepreneur or professional, can boost status and authority, but it can be difficult to know where to start
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Writing a book. It’s one of the most commonly held aspirations, yet is somehow perceived to be one of the most overwhelming and problematic roads to navigate. And when this life goal is coupled with the knowledge and recognition that a book can also mean huge business growth and enhanced levels of authority and status for business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, coaches, mentors, thought leaders and speakers (just to name a few), frustration can reach an all-time high when the pathway seems unclear.
All too often, this can mean that the ink of initial efforts has barely had time to dry before the writer gives up. This never fails to make my heart sink, because “I just don’t know where to start” is the main reason for people deciding against writing their book, despite it being a hurdle that is actually so easy to overcome.
Planning and writing lead-generating non-fiction is much like anything else. It requires the right tools and clear instructions on how these tools should be utilized. Contrary to what some might believe, there is a very clear process that should be followed when it comes to achieving this goal, as with most business processes. Writing a book is no different, and when because there are very few platforms that position a business or business owner to achieve so much with so little investment — both time and money — it pays to do things in tried-and-tested and efficient ways. Winging it simply won’t do.
In other words, clear, easy-to-implement methods and techniques make all the difference when blueprinting (planning) and writing, and can take you from feeling lost and overwhelmed to having complete clarity across all stages, allowing you to actually enjoy this life- and business-changing tool. So let’s take a look at three of the most important ingredients when it comes to starting your lead-generating non-fiction.
1. A detailed, full-of-clarity blueprint
“I just don’t know where to start.”
These words can be heard whispered in frustration by successful entrepreneurs and business owners across the world every single day, and although the feeling of being overwhelmed is completely understandable, it is nonetheless incredibly easy to determine how to move forward. It’s like anything. You need to know and understand the various points in the process — what needs to be done first, then second and so forth. Nobody is ever born with the knowledge of how to do something. Everything is learned — and if you can launch and run a business, trust me, you can write a book.
Blueprinting is where to start — and how to continue. A blueprint will clearly outline every single topic, point, case study, example, reference and story you want to include in your book. It provides a map of what to write and when, and where each of these paragraphs and chapters should be included.
Of course, creating an in-depth blueprint takes time and effort, but this is an area well worth your energy and resources, as it will allow you to move forward productively. Sitting and questioning what you should write, whether certain elements should be included or whether what you’ve written is good enough is pointless. As a business person, your time and where you spend it is precious, so you want to be sure the process is as efficient as possible. Blueprinting is the key to this.
With this in mind, here are the seven key steps to blueprinting your non-fiction.
- Audience: Be very clear about who you want to read this book. As an entrepreneur writing lead-generating non-fiction, your reader should be your ideal client. Keep them in mind throughout the process.
- Cover-to-cover journey: Think about the journey you want to take your reader/ideal client on from start to finish. Where are they now and where do you want to help them to get to?
- Main points: Brainstorm and detail seven to 15 points or milestones. Each of these milestones represents a chapter.
- Chapter breakdown: Break down each of your chapters (milestones), and give some serious thought to what each chapter should cover and share with your reader/ideal client. Are there stories you can share? Case studies? Examples of past successes with other clients?
- Questions and answers: Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and ask yourself, “what would your reader want to know as they move through each chapter?” Detail these questions, and be sure they get answered.
- Further help: How could you help your reader/ideal client once they have finished your book? Could you offer more free training? A free call? Consider something high-value that is focused on you helping them beyond the pages of your book.
- Subtle lead-generation: Consider and detail where you could include subtle, content-relevant references and how you can invite your reader to take advantage of this.
2. Truly commit and schedule your time
“I just don’t have the time to write a book.”
The blueprinting and writing of a non-fiction book can be done in 12 weeks, with just two hours’ commitment a week; nonetheless, this is perhaps the most common objection I hear daily, which is actually nothing to do with time but more to do with the prioritization of time.
We all have the same 24 hours in each day, and we all make decisions on how that time can and should be spent. As an example, many people choose to spend several hours watching television every day, while others decide to start a business. Some choose to stay in bed for an extra two to three hours on the weekend (or daily), while others decide to launch themselves out of bed and work on business expansion.
It’s all about priorities and where we, as human beings, want to direct our focus. It’s also about good time management, finding a weekly slot for the projects you truly want to tackle, and truly committing to finally getting that “write a book” goal ticked off your to-do list.
Prioritizing your time is absolutely fundamental. The rewards of writing and publishing lead-generating non-fiction can be huge, so the investment of your time is well worth it. With this in mind, see the five tips below on how to make time for writing your book.
- Swap out 2 hours of television a week. Choose to commit to blueprinting your book.
- Restrict time-wasting websites on your phone and computer during designated book-planning hours.
- Devise and stick to a reward system; perhaps a nice meal or treat for every chapter you map out and blueprint.
- Be sure you’re outsourcing low-value tasks. This can save several hours a week.
- Get up an hour early a few times a week and get ahead with your daily tasks, allowing you to free up time for your book project.
3. Be fully convinced
“I’m just not a writer.”
It’s a statement I hear fall out of entrepreneurs’ and professionals’ mouths every single day, and it’s perhaps one of the most problematic because it all stems back to mindset and our own beliefs about what we can and cannot do. Mindset and attitude play a fundamental role in the achievement of anything and everything, and writing a book is no different. You can do whatever you tell yourself you can do — and, similarly, if you convince yourself you can’t do this because you’re not a writer or for any other reason — that will end up being true.
The truth of the matter is, you don’t need to be a writer to write non-fiction. You just need to be an expert in your industry, passionate about what you do and be in your zone of genius. If this is the case, everything you need and want to share will flow from you effortlessly, just as it would in a normal conversation with a client or prospect.
Writing a non-fiction book is less about creative writing and more about sharing your knowledge, solutions and expertise with those who need it, and so it’s paramount that you view this project through the lens of business-expansion and growth rather than creative writing.
Here are seven key points to keep you feeling motivated.
- Launching, running and scaling a business is an infinitely bigger endeavor than writing a book, so if you are an entrepreneur or business owner, you can 100% write a book.
- Your book presents a huge platform, allowing people to discover, get to know, like and trust you, so it’s well worth utilizing.
- A book that showcases what you do, who you help and how readers can get in touch and benefit from your services will position you as an authority in your niche. It’s something that will remain in your professional portfolio forever.
- Once published, your book can continuously attract and nurture your ideal clients.
- A non-fiction book acts as a larger-than-life business card, allowing you to direct your readers into an off-the-page relationship through subtle lead-generation and well-positioned lead magnets.
- When the time comes for you to hold your book in your hands, you will feel a sense of pride and achievement that far outweighs the joy of watching television or staying in bed longer at the weekends. It’s all about measuring input to output.
- Your lead-generating non-fiction will allow you to attract and nurture your ideal clients, with your leads paying to become leads. This can completely change the dynamic of your business, and the priority you assign to other marketing tools, such as paid advertising.
Any of these points can and should act as a huge motivator in starting your non-fiction book, even if you are overwhelmed or feel a lack of direction. It’s super important to move past these feelings because when an ideal client picks up a book that identifies and helps them to solve a problem they are in the thick of experiencing, they pay for that book. And the money that goes straight into your pocket. And if that reader then takes you up on your offer of further help by opting in and putting themselves on your list, they’ve essentially paid you to become a lead — a lead you can nurture beyond the pages of your book. In this situation, the book has already done the hard work for you by showing your readers/prospects why they should know, like and trust you.
The bottom line is this: Writing and publishing a lead-generating non-fiction book is a complete no-brainer and should be the main business-growth goal for every single entrepreneur in 2021. Throughout the course of my career as the founder and owner of an award-winning, globally operating publishing house, and as a book coach and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business owners across the world, I have seen first-hand the value of a book and how it can completely change the way a business functions. It makes complete sense to take the necessary steps to get past the overwhelming feelings and get started on your book.
This article first appeared in Entrepreneur.