Have you been thinking of writing a business book with some great new idea? You may also be wondering–with your schedule–how you would get all the writing done, right? Should you retain a ghostwriter with experience in your specific field? Sounds reasonable. But a solid argument exists to the contrary.
As a writer, I’m always amused at Monster or Craigslist ads for marketing communications managers or writers. If it’s a bank, the ad might specify “the applicant must have 5-10 years of experience in retail lending and banking.”
Earth to bank! The position is for retail banking, which means the hired applicant will be communicating with people who don’t know much about banking. Inside terminology (aka jargon) and other esoterica will have little meaning to that target audience. Someone from another retail industry could ask the hidden questions bank management assumes everyone knows. They may be dumb questions to management but they prompt breakthrough answers for the communications professional.
This reality applies to any industry…and to writing business books. A writer is only as good as his or her ability to communicate to the target audience. It has nothing to do with deep experience in the machinery of a particular industry.
Every time I sit down with a marketing or author client, my due diligence eventually reaches some point lacking clarity. Frowns wrinkle my forehead. Dead air rises from the conference table. And then I break the silence: “I’ve got to ask a dumb question…why is X important or what do you mean when you say Y?” This never fails to clear the confusion and, in so doing, sharpen the book’s strategy.
When I was an acquisitions editor in college textbook publishing, we always sought professors who could explain complexities to undergrads. After all, they were taking introductory psychology because they didn’t know anything about psychology. Nonetheless, the editing process invariably had to enhance the professors’ explanations.
Why is Doctor Oz popular? Because he doesn’t bury you in medical esoterica. Why is Jim Cramer’s investment show a hit? Plain talk. Why was The Peter Principle so revealing? Because Lawrence Peter (one of the funniest authors I ever worked with) took something everyone suspected and enriched it with vivid stories.
All these examples apply to writing a solid business book. A good business book provides great stories. The path of a good business book glides on the waves of anticipation: The book answers readers’ questions just as those questions hit the readers’ minds. A good business book uses those questions for transitions from one chapter to the next.
If you’re wrestling with a book idea, use the “grandma test” to see how clear your concept is. Can you explain your idea to your grandma (ok, your postman, your next waitress, your gardener) in a couple sentences and get them to say, oh, of course, that makes sense.
If you are having trouble explaining your idea, we at The Business Book Ghostwriters offer a series of steps to help you clarify your thesis and give it the right flow and structure for a book. We can’t wait to ask the dumb questions that could add a book to your resume and consultancy…the book you know you need.