Sometimes the challenge is picking the one killer idea for your business book from the dozen you’ve got floating in your head. Here’s a three-step process to help you home in on the best of the bunch.
One question I love being asked as a business book writing coach is: “I’ve got seven topics I could write about. Each is brilliant and would make the world a better place. How do I decide which is the killer idea?”
If this sounds like you, don’t worry, it’s a common stumbling block. The good news is, you have a lot of ideas, and my job is to help you determine which is best.
Why choose just one idea? Why not write several books at once?
I think we know the answer to this. You can only do a really good job writing one book at a time. Writing a book takes a lot of mental energy and sustained concentration; it’s hard to do justice to more than one at a time. It’s a bit like starting a small business – it involves, planning, strategic decision-making, and seemingly endless amounts of effort. If you’re not a superhero, I suggest you take it one at a time. That way, your book stands a good chance of actually getting finished (always a bonus!) and think how great you’ll feel when you’ve taken that one amazing idea and made it work for you in a brilliant book.
I know you’ve got lots of fabulous ideas in your head and you’d love to write about them all. I’m not saying you can only ever write one book. Pick one idea to write about this time, and save your other ideas for another time. In fact, it’s a great move to keep your ideas alive by recording them with a note, a title, or a brief synopsis. That way they will always be there when you’re ready and inspired.
So how do you choose the topic that will set the world on fire?
1. Write all your ideas down
This could be on paper, on a spreadsheet, in a Word document – whatever works for you. One of my favorite techniques is to use post-it notes. I write each idea down on a note and stick it on a big sheet of paper.
Getting your ideas out of your head, spelled out, and in front of you is an important first step. You won’t have that nagging feeling of having forgotten some creative gem that you just know is in there somewhere!
2. Take each idea and ask yourself the following questions
- “Is this idea suitable for the audience of my existing business?” This is really important. You’ll want to be able to market and sell your book successfully when it’s completed, so being able to utilize your current mailing list, social media profiles, and other marketing platforms will make it a lot easier than starting with a whole new market. In addition, if your book is aimed at a readership similar to your existing customer base, it’s much more likely to be aligned with the core purpose of your business.
- “Is this idea supportive of my business?” If you are a speaker who talks about female leadership in male-dominated industries, does this idea speak to that? I know it sounds like an obvious question, but it’s surprising how often smart people get carried away by a bright, shiny new idea that has little to do with their existing business or core competency. If your business book is truly for your business, it needs to help you to make more money, either through the additional speaking engagements you’ll book, the new clients you’ll attract, the list building opportunities it gives you, or simply the raised profile that you will achieve (in addition to the potential sales revenues). But it’s unlikely to do any of these things if it’s not written on the subject upon which your business and reputation are based.
- “Can I leverage this business book?” This relates to the question above, and what it means is: are there ways you can use your book to win more business for yourself? One way of doing this is to sell (or develop) online products which your readers will bw attracted to as a result of reading your book.
- “Do I know what I’m talking about?” You need to feel confident that you’ve got the expertise to write on the subject that you’ve chosen, otherwise you’ll be unlikely to finish it with confidence. This doesn’t mean that you have to know everything about your topic, and you can always bring in guest contributors and do some extra research. But it stands to reason that a successful book will be written from a place of knowledge and expertise.
- “Could I combine one or more of my ideas into a single book?” Sometimes themes which seem disparate can be brought together. For instance, if you’ve got two ideas – one about a nutrition guide and another about how to cook healthy meals – you can easily see how they could be combined into an ‘all you need to know to eat healthily’ book.
3. Take a reality break
Hopefully by now you’ve narrowed your ideas down to a short list of no more than two or three. Now is the time to test if your ideas are really what your audience wants. Will they buy this book, or is it based on your own preconceived ideas of what they’re after? Are you confusing what your readers need with what they want (i.e. what they will buy)? We never buy anything unless we want it. The only way to find out for sure is to do some research – you can ask your clients (who should be your ideal readers), set up an email survey, ask on social media, and look to see what else is selling in this field. Does there seem to be a demand for it? If so, you’re on the right track. If not, you might need to think about whether this is something that people really want to read about, or alternatively find a different angle or take on the subject that appeals more.
Don’t feel bad about the ideas that didn’t make the cut. All ideas have value, and what doesn’t become a book could find life in another form – an online training product, a video series, a blog series, or even your next book! The most important thing is that you’ve chosen the idea that will work best for you, your audience, and your business.
Have you found this helpful? Let us know in the comments below.
This post originally appeared on Ginny Carter’s blog, MarketingTwentyOne. Reposted with permission.
Image via ShutterStock.com.
How to choose the perfect book title
7 guidelines for writing a nonfiction book
Speed up! How to make better use of the time at your keyboard
Show me your book marketing ideas, and I’ll show you mine
Blogging tips for authors: how to generate new blog ideas