Five Things Authors SHOULD Know Before They Start Writing

Preparation is key

It’s so exciting to commit to writing your first book. Most authors can’t wait to get cracking. However, by that, a lot of people mean they can’t wait to start writing. It’s not quite as straightforward as that though. If you are hoping to write a great business book, there are some things you will need to think about before putting pen to paper.

I know, I am quite probably bursting a little bubble of excitement there, for which I apologise. But trust me, it is 100% worth taking a bit of time to work out some fundamentals before you start writing. Here’s the list:

  1. Work out who your ideal reader is. Usually just one avatar. I want DETAIL here, people. Age, gender, marital status, income, occupation, where they live, their hobbies, where they hang out both online and off, influencers they subscribe to, media outlets etc. Pretty much everything but the inside leg measurement. If you’ve got that too, though….
  2. Know where this book fits into your personal and professional goals. What do you want this book to do for you and your business? Do you want it to enhance your authority in your sector, or open doors for big speaking gigs? Is it the most accessible offering in a value ladder of your services, where you would like some readers to contact you for more intensive one-to-one support?
  3. How big is your existing audience for this book? Yup, we need to do an audience audit. How many people are on your email list? How many followers do you have on your primary social media channel?
  4. What will your readers know before they pick up your book and what do you want them to know when they finish it?
  5. Work out how much time you can dedicate to writing your book. When are you going to schedule your writing sessions in for?

Let’s unpick this list, from the top.

Know your audience

I cannot stress the importance of knowing your audience before you start writing. You will have lots of decisions to make regarding your book, from structuring your content and formats to layout, cover design and marketing strategies. If you are clear on your audience, you will be far more likely to know the answer when you’re faced with a choice about your book. Anyone working in publishing, at any point in the process, will tell you the same.

Understand this book’s place in your goals

When you know your audience and you know where your magnum opus fits in with your own personal and professional goals, then you can start to think about planning out your book structure and also about suitable formats. Adding in number four on our list above, if we are clear about what we expect our readers to know before they start reading our book and then what we’d like them to know by the end, then this will help us to map out our content and start building that reader journey that can become our book skeleton. Your book skeleton (my term for a Table of Contents) will act as a roadmap for writing your book. Once you’ve got that skeleton, you can start to put some flesh on those bones!

Make marketing a priority from day one

Moving on to number three, I need to tell you right now that marketing your book is of equal importance to writing your book. This sometimes comes as a big shock to prospective authors. Even if you wish to find a traditional publisher for your book, these days they will expect you to bring a significant audience to the table. In fact, it’s often part of their decision-making process, in conjunction with the quality of your manuscript. And if you’re self-publishing then you have to do everything yourself, sales and marketing included. Unless you go through the BizBook Foundry, of course. We’ve already thought of ways to support you there, natch.

Stick to your writing schedule

Finally, you need to work out how this book is going to get written. The average business book takes three to six months to write, although if you get yourself a ghostwriter, then it can be quicker. Obviously, if you’re writing it yourself, it all depends on how much time you can schedule in. If you could clear your diary completely for a few weeks, then that might well be all the time you need.

However, if you have y’know, work and a family to fit in, then you’re probably going to need to schedule a regular writing slot in. It could be an hour every morning, or half a day a week, say. You could possibly go away for the weekend to make some headway on your book at the start, or if it’s taking you a but longer than planned. The important thing is to put it in your diary and stick to it. Don’t make writing your book optional, moving it if something comes up. Because you’ll find that if you view writing your book as a ‘nice to have’ then it does rather tend to drop off the old to do list.

I hope you’ve found this list useful. It will help you to avoid some common pitfalls that new authors can only too easily fall into. If you’d like to get some professional support to self-publish your book, just click here to arrange a quick call with me and Catherine. We’d love to hear about you and your book!