Being the author of a business book that ties to your company’s core offerings or philosophies has been a very effective business growth strategy for many business leaders and owners. Beyond that, being a published author is an aspiration shared by many business luminaries. 


Maybe even you?


If you’ve always wanted to write a book but have dismissed it because it felt so daunting, I’d like to offer up some strategies that will allow anyone to write a book worthy of being on someone’s nightstand or bookshelf. Let’s start with some essential steps that will set you up for success, long before you type your very first word.


Know your reader: To write a compelling book, you need to understand who you’re talking to with every word. Imagine you are having dinner with three other people, telling them stories that are the key pillars to your book. These three people are entirely engrossed in the conversation because it is so spot-on relevant to them. Who are they? Why is your book’s message so important to them?


If you can, create personas or find stock photos that represent these people. When I wrote “Sell With Authority” last year, I had three specific clients in mind, and I wrote the book just for them.  


Don’t overcomplicate it: Once you know your readers, what is the key takeaway you want to leave with them after they finish your book? Not takeaways – one takeaway.


Most enduring business books have a single core message. Not 12 messages, not a million different points of view. Once you know your core takeaway, the rest of the book is just proof points, examples, or how-to tips that all support that core message.


Draw the blueprint: When someone wants to build a house, they don’t just start digging or nailing boards together. They create a blueprint, so they understand what they’re trying to accomplish. For your book, that blueprint is an outline. The mental exercise of creating the outline allows you to be mindful of the book’s flow.


It’s much easier to have a map before you start the journey of writing the book. It will help you identify gaps that you hadn’t thought about, keep you from taking too many detours once you start writing, and hold that single message top of mind.


Set your writing schedule in stone: Even people who love to write find writing a book a bit intimidating. You’ll find a million distractions to keep you from your keyboard if you don’t protect your writing time. The age-old advice is to write for at least 15 minutes every day. That may work for you. Or your preference may be more like mine: four-hour blocks, twice a week. Some people love to get up at the crack of dawn to write. Others are more inspired late at night.  


You also need to understand what kind of environment you need. Can you write at the office during the workday? Do you need absolute isolation and silence? Can you throw in some earbuds and work in a bustling coffee shop?


No matter what time or location suits you best, you need to block the time off on your calendar, reserve the space if needed, and make those calendar entries unmovable.


Get an accountability buddy: Find someone who will hold you to honoring that writing schedule and ask for updates on your progress. A good accountability buddy will ask for proof (“Send me the pages you wrote today or an updated draft”) to keep you on task.  


In next week’s column, I walk you through some tips and tricks to make the actual writing faster and more effective. But don’t put your hands on that keyboard until you’ve handled this week’s suggestions.