Ideas for new business books are plentiful. Just listen to golfers as they wait in line to tee-off. Most ideas stop there, but many of them should not have stopped there. The issue: How to get started?
If you have a business book idea, the following guidelines will help you put flesh and bones on it.
Point of view (POV): You are an expert in X…whatever that is. You do it differently. You look around at colleagues who do it the old way and wonder why they are still in a rut. You recognize times have changed…the industry, the customer, the world. People are beginning to listen to you. But how do you summarize your POV? Contrast the old way with your new way: “We’ve been doing X that way and it’s no longer working. What if we could do X this way and gain benefits A, B, and C? This very question led to e-Bay, Amazon, Craigslist, and i-Phones. It also produced great business books, such as The Outliers, How We Decide, and Who Moved My Cheese? Whether you call it POV or thesis or kernel, it could well germinate into a book
Reader profile: Defining target audience is critical. First, not everyone reads business books. Some read only short books, like a handy 200-page book for the flight to Chicago. Others read and collect 500-page professional reference books to be placed conveniently near their desk. Not everyone reads books sequentially from first chapter to last; many skip around. If your expertise in X is a process, the latter reader may not start from your first chapter and read forward. Define the profile of your targeted readers: age, professional level and responsibility, education, B2B or B2C… and their openness to new ideas.
Setting: Just as a novel has a setting to get you into the story, so does your business book. In this case, however, it’s the setting you enter to develop your book. I capture my creative thinking in very different places: on airplanes, in front of the fireplace during the winter, and under the gazebo in the summer. Wherever your creative juices flow best, start there. A setting could also be a day of the week, such as Saturday mornings, or a daily time, such as 6:00 AM. The setting may include fleshing out a book idea on a yellow legal pad rather than staring at that glowing screen, or having audio recordings transcribed into text. Whatever has worked for your other brainstorms, use it for giving your book life.
Roger S. Peterson
West Coast Editor
THE BUSINESS BOOK GHOSTWRITERS