How to Create a Business Book Blueprint

Before you write a book (or work with a ghost writer to help you write a book), you need a plan.  By following the questions in this chapter a consultant can create a blueprint for a book that will attract clients. The important aspect to focus on is to have the book in alignment with the area of consulting expertise.

The Marketing With A Book philosophy is that a book should position a consultant as a subject matter expert. The key to attracting high paying clients is to be sought out for your expertise on a particular subject.

The Book Store Question

Visit a bookstore like Barnes & Noble (if, by the time you read this, there are any bookstores left in the world). The average Barnes & Noble bookstore has about 200,000 different books available for sale. Take a moment to study the bookstore and you will quickly see the organization scheme (maybe your book only be available online, but Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com follow the same organizational structure).

The first question to ponder for your book is, where will my non-fiction book be shelved in a Barnes & Noble store? Here are your 39 choices. Choose one and only one.

  1. African Americans
  2. Antiques & Collectibles
  3. Art, Architecture & Photography
  4. Bibles & Bible Studies
  5. Business
  6. Christianity
  7. Computer & Technology
  8. Cookbooks, Food & Wine
  9. Crafts & Hobbies
  10. Education & Teaching
  11. Engineering
  12. Entertainment
  13. Foreign Languages
  14. Games
  15. Gay & Lesbian
  16. Health, Diet & Fitness
  17. History
  18. Home & Garden
  19. Humor
  20. Judaism & Judaica
  21. Law
  22. Medicine
  23. New Age & Spirituality
  24. Parenting & Family
  25. Pets
  26. Philosophy
  27. Politics & Current Events
  28. Psychology & Psychotherapy
  29. Reference
  30. Religion
  31. Science & Nature
  32. Self Improvement
  33. Sex & Relationships
  34. Social Sciences
  35. Sports & Adventure
  36. Study Guides & Test Prep
  37. Travel
  38. True Crimes
  39. Weddings

 

Business Subsections

Let’s assume, if you are like most consultants, that your book would be in the business shelves. But where exactly? The business shelves are divided into subsections. Which subsection category would work for you? (You cannot make up a new category, it has to fit into one of these.)

  1. Accounting
  2. Business & Commercial Law
  3. Business Biography
  4. Business History
  5. Careers & Employment
  6. Economics
  7. Human Resources
  8. International Business
  9. Libros en Español
  10. Management & Leadership
  11. Marketing & Sales
  12. Personal Finance & Investing
  13. Professional Finance & Investing
  14. Real Estate
  15. Small Business
  16. Women in Business

Speaking Engagement Topics

One of the most important ways to promote a book, and your consulting practice, is through public speaking.  The following are the speech classifications from Vistage International, the largest CEO peer group in the world.

The following is how Vistage categorizes its speakers. Where would fit on the Vistage list? The eight main categories are: Beyond Business, Business Services, General Business, Finance & Accounting, Human Resources, Marketing & Sales, Personal/Professional Development, and Technology.

Beyond Business
Family & Relationships
Health & Well Being
Leisure/Entertainment
Politics & World Events
Religion & Spirituality
Personal Finances
Purpose & Passion
Mortality & Death

Business Services
Environmental Concerns
Facilities Planning/Management
Insurance/Risk Management
Legal Services Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights
Real Estate
Security
Transportation
Finance & Accounting
Banking/Financing
Bankruptcy
Credit & Collection
Economics
Financial Management
Financial Systems
IPOs
Purchasing/Inventory
Taxes
General Business
Benchmarking
Board of Directors/Advisors
Business Brokerage, Mergers & Acquisitions
Change
Consultant
Evaluation & Selection
Corporate Communications
Corporate Culture
Creativity/Innovation
Crisis Management/Turnarounds
Ethics
Family Business
Franchising
Future Trends
Government Regulations
Growth Management
Industry Issues
International Business
Joint Ventures/Strategic Alliances
Management
Organizational Development & Lifecycles
Productivity & Process Improvement
Project Management
Strategic Planning & Visioning
Valuation

Human Resources
Compensation & Benefits
Employee Termination
Employment & Labor Law
Hiring, Recruiting & Retention
Mentoring/Coaching
Motivation/Empowerment
Outsourcing, Alternative Employment
Performance Mgmt. & Appraisal
Program/Policy Design & Compliance
Safety in the Workplace
Teambuilding, Conflict Resolution
Training, Management Development
Unions/Organized Labor
Workers’ Compensation
Workforce Diversity
Manufacturing/Distribution
Automation
Distribution
Industrial Engineering
Manufacturing
Plant/Warehouse Management
Product Research and Development
Product Safety

Marketing & Sales

Branding
Customer Service
Market Research
Marketing
Pricing
Public Relations/Advertising
Sales & Sales Force Management

Personal/Professional Development
Communication/Presentation Skills
Delegation
Goal Setting
Leadership Assessment
Leadership/Role of CEO
Life Planning & Personal Growth
Meeting Planning & Facilitation
Negotiation
Problem Solving/Decision Making
Productivity/Time Management
Retirement/Succession Planning
Stress Management
Women in Business
Self Knowledge
Technology
Computer Security
Internet, Electronic Commerce
Technology Design/Development
Technology Evaluation/Selection
Technology Strategy and Management
Technology Training & Support
Technology, New & Emerging Telecommunications

 

Pulling it All Together: Your Subject Matter Expertise

What subject matter expert positioning do you want? Based on the exercise of where your book will be placed in Barnes and Noble and what topic Vistage CEOs would hear you speak on, complete the following:

This book will position me as a ____________ subject matter expert. The book also opens up multiple opportunities for speaking engagements and publicity around the subject of future trends in ________________ .

 

Preliminary Book Structure

What will the look and feel of the book be? Here are some options:

  1. Textbook (50,000+ words)
  2. Business How-To (35,000 to 45,000 words)
  3. Tips Book (10,000 to 15,000 words)
  4. Parable Book (7,000 to 10,000 words)

What will this book convey?

  1. New information
  2. More information
  3. Better information
  4. Different information

What Type of Story?

Every business book should tell a story. There are eight stories that humans want to hear over and over again. What type of story are you telling? There are eight basic story structures a book can take, based on the classic eight structures that almost all “stories” follow.

  1. Overcoming the Monster. A terrifying, all-powerful, life-threatening monster whom the hero must confront in a fight to the death. An example of this plot is seen in Beowulf, Jaws, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Dracula. Most business books follow this plot. There is some monster problem in the workplace, and this is how you attack it. Business book example: Slay the E-Mail Monster, The E-Myth Revisted, Whale Hunters
  2. Rags to Riches. Someone who has seemed to the world quite commonplace is shown to have been hiding a second, more exceptional self within. Think The Ugly Duckling, Jane Eyre and Clark Kent (“Superman”). The business books in this category discuss how someone raised themselves up from nothing to success. One of Henry’s early favorites was Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington. Donald Trump books don’t count. He raised himself up from riches to mega riches. Business book examples: Moneyball, Purple Cow, Up the Organization, Grinding it Out
  3. The Quest. From the moment the hero learns of the priceless goal, he sets out on a hazardous journey to reach it. Examples are seen in The Odyssey, The Count of Monte Cristo, and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Business book examples: The HP Way, In Search of Excellence, The One Minute Manager, How to Win Friends and Influence People
  4. Voyage and Return. The hero or heroine and a few companions travel out of the familiar surroundings into another world completely cut off from the first. While it is at first wonderful, there is a sense of increasing peril. After a dramatic escape, they return to the familiar world where they began. Alice in Wonderland and The Time Machine are obvious examples; but “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind” also embody this basic plotline. Business book examples: The Prodigal Executive, The Innovator’s Dilemma
  5. Comedy. Think of the movie “Tootsie” or “Some Like it Hot.” Following a general chaos of misunderstanding, the characters tie themselves and each other into a knot that seems almost unbearable; however, to universal relief, everyone and everything gets sorted out, bringing about the happy ending. Shakespeare’s comedies come to mind, as do Jane Austen’s novels like Sense and Sensibility. Business book example: 2030: What Really Happens to America, A Whack on the Side of the Head
  6. Tragedy. A character through some flaw or lack of self-understanding is increasingly drawn into a fatal course of action which leads inexorably to disaster. King Lear, Madame Bovary, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bonnie and Clyde—all flagrantly tragic. Business book example: Too Big to Fail, Barbarians at the Gate
  7. Rebirth. There is a mounting sense of threat as a dark force approaches the hero until it emerges completely, holding the hero in its deadly grip. Only after a time, when it seems that the dark force has triumphed, does the reversal take place. The hero is redeemed, usually through the life-giving power of love. Many fairy tales take this shape; also, works like Silas Marner and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Business book example: Out of Crisis, Seabiscuit,
  8. Mystery. This appeared from the time of Edgar Allan Poe. From Sherlock Holmes to C.S.I. Miami, the plot that involves solving a riddle has gained immense popularity in the last 150 years. Business book examples: Good to Great, Think and Grow Rich, Cracking the Personality Code.

What Type of Audience

Every subject matter expert has a DNA that guides their expertise. What is yours? Here is an exercise to find out.

What is the name of your business? Is it clear what you do? Is your name a part of the business?

In 11 words or less, who is your target client and what result do you achieve for them?

What are the pains, worries and frustrations that you help clients deal with?

What is your solution for helping clients? Do you have a model, methodology or proprietary process?

What is the common misperception that holds many potential clients back from overcoming their pains, worries and frustrations?

What do your prospect clients need to do in general to solve their problems that you are the expert in? In other words, do you have basic steps that most clients should follow?

In addition to solving their main problem, what other benefits do clients receive from following the course of action that you advocate?

Working Title of Your Book

Now, and only now, that you have answered the preceding questions are you ready to brainstorm a working title of your book. Working title means the title you start with to guide the project. Often during the writing of the book a better title will materialize. So be it. But you have to start somewhere.

Marketing Considerations

Remember, books don’t promote authors. Authors promote books. When consultants promote their books, they are really promoting their consulting practices. Here is a quick checklist of 25 marketing items to consider. Create the book with the end in mind.

  1. Testimonial blurbs for book back cover from famous people or companies
  2. Foreword for book written by well-known person
  3. Website with PDF of table of contents and chapter one of book
  4. Blogsite that you post weekly blogs from book
  5. Twitter linked to blogsite
  6. Facebook linked to blogsite
  7. Linked In linked to blogsite
  8. Ezine (electronic newsletter) with articles from book
  9. PR Newswire news releases on tips from book
  10. Review copies sent to journalists and bloggers
  11. Free speaking engagements (pro bono)
  12. Fee speaking engagements (paid)
  13. Small scale seminars that author hosts
  14. Teleseminars that author hosts or appears on
  15. Conference based around the book
  16. Book launch party
  17. Flyer for book
  18. Postcard for book
  19. Business card for book
  20. Articles excerpted from book chapters for publications
  21. Internet column based on book
  22. Print publication column based on your book
  23. Sponsorships for personalized copies of books
  24. Institutional buyers that will buy books in quantity
  25. Bulk book buyers that will buy books in quantity

 

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