Managing several authors on one book
You and your consulting colleagues are thinking of writing a business book. That’s good. You will each keep the others motivated and on-track. You may each have a different professional expertise to add to the book. Managing the team, however, requires task assignment.
Today’s readers want a balance of elements in business books, from case studies and horror stories to “how-to” guidance and resource links. Let’s assume your business book is about some new process or methodology. Here’s a way to keep all the authors involved, yet assigned to a specific element.
Stories: Readers love stories. Assign one author to develop an inventory of stories, from 1-2 sentence vignettes to 100-word horror stories and success stories, to a full case study that runs throughout all the chapters. Such a case study holds the hands of the readers and walks them through the steps (chapters) of your process.
List of do’s and don’ts: Readers jump around a lot. Assign one person to write a short bullet list for the beginning of each chapter. The first part lists the essential actions the readers must take; the second part lists the things readers should avoid doing.
Chapter descriptions and outlines: Who on the team is best as developing a logical sequence of what your team does for clients? Give that person the task of outlining the contents of each chapter, in sequence, and a 100-word description of each chapter. This helps everyone corral content without duplication.
Diagnostics: Who always seems best at diagnosing your clients’ problems…the problems your book will discuss? Turn that person loose on summarizing the diagnostic step that is appropriate for each chapter.
The fix: Who always comes up with the set of “how-to” deliverables and prescriptions for change for your clients? That’s the person to write the recommendations for change appropriate for each chapter.
Resources: Readers want links. Assign someone to outline additional resources for each chapter. Make sure one is your website or the free download content available on it. Include links to articles your team members have written in professional journals or blogs. All book publishing should now include e-book versions, and links make your book especially rich in content.
In the end, you still need an outside editor to make all these voices blend together. That is not an easy task, even if you agree beforehand to a style manual for writing. You need an objective observer to pull together the elements, someone who has done it before. In our past lives as textbook editors, The Business Book Ghostwriters assembled many contributed books.