No, this isn’t a grammar quiz. But if you’re thinking of writing a business book, this question is important. It’s where to start.
Back in our days of textbook publishing, editors would roll out their books and tell the sales staff about each one. Sometimes dead silence hung in the air as the reps tried to absorb it all. But one sales manager was famous for breaking the silence with this line: “I hear a lot of nouns…but I don’t hear any verbs.” He wanted to know if the book had practical how-to’s.
In a nutshell, is your business book a description of something, or will it show people how to do something? Descriptive books aren’t bad. I am reading Jonah Lehrer’s HOW WE DECIDE. It’s a fascinating description of how humans consciously and unconsciously make quick decisions.
The real question is simple: What do your target readers need? If they need both a new description and a practical guide, you may have two books in gestation. First get your readers into the new overview of your idea, then come out with the how-to book 1-2 years later.