Did you know that over 70% of people have written down “writing a a course in miracles” on their bucket list? As such, I get business executives frequently asking me on planes or at the gym about what is involved in writing a book. Years ago, I was one of these people who wanted to write a book but didn’t know how to get started. Now having done written a book (on top of a busy schedule), I share the process of writing with aspiring authors all over the planet. My advice for aspiring published authors is simple… all it takes is the right kind of preparation. In other words, you have to prepare to succeed. But many people in my sphere of influence don’t just want to write a book – they want to write a best selling book. In fact, they come to me on their quest to get famous as a result of writing a book. So the question remains, even though the marketplace is swamped with books, can you become a best selling author?
The answer is “of course!” But why am I so sure? Because the best seller lists are populated by authors – and somebody’s got to be on those lists. Why couldn’t it be you? The right kind of preparation and the knowledge of where to apply some extra effort can make all the difference between just another book release and a runaway hit – with you holding the reins.
As a publisher, I’ve worked with some of the best-selling authors in the world. Some of them truly are great writers. Ironically, others are merely great marketers. To me, it takes a winning combination of both in order to be truly successful as an author, to have staying power and to reach the top. Like any goal, you need to begin with the end in mind.
In high school, my wrestling coach had this quote on the wall of our gymnasium: “If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail.” Every day our team would reflect on this philosophy, and we were encouraged to develop a plan to overcome our weaknesses and leverage our strengths. Now many years later, this philosophy has proven to hold true in many pursuits… including building best-selling books.
Writing a book that becomes a best seller is feasible if you start your book project with the proper planning. Following the same niche-vetting process is required for every book, fact or fiction, no matter what your reasons may be for writing your manuscript. Once you determine what to write, preparing the book for your selected niche market becomes part of the writing process.
The first decision to make about your book is the decision to approach it with a sense of professionalism. Decide what your book is about and who it’s for. Understand who your competition is. Decide that you will complete your book and that you will publish it. Give yourself a deadline, and work steadily to meet it. Commit fully. This is the one distinguishing factor that all successful authors have in common – professionalism.
To get started with the proper planning and preparation you’ll need to create a book proposal, no matter which publishing model you choose. Whether you’re going to shop your manuscript to legacy publishers, self-publish it or choose something in between, proper planning is one of the biggest steps you can take on the road to best seller success.
The reason is that your book proposal will help you focus your writing ideas and help you treat your book as a business. The proposal includes a synopsis of your book, an analysis of your market, a comparison of competing books that are already in stores, and your plan for marketing your book. In my travels with breakaway best-selling authors I often ask about their success stories, then look for common denominators of success. Here are a few of my discoveries – each best-selling author has at least one strength which include elements like:
If you are already in the business of writing or speaking, take a look at the sales figures from your previous works and include these numbers in your proposal. Also include the number of speaking engagements you can line-up during the next twelve months, along with any book tours, media appearances, press releases, blog posts, and social media figures and projections. When your details start to take shape, so does the outline of your book.
Why do I want to write about this particular topic? Find your topic and angle. Do you have any story ideas or other compelling points to make? Start with a seed idea then build on it. Even the great works of the ages began with a simple seed that blossomed into rich maturity. Using stories is a great way to create a gripping, readable, authoritative book. What do I want my book to do for me and for others? Determine whether your book will support another part of your business. Decide how you want your book to affect others and what you want them to take away from the experience of reading it.
Which specific audience do I want my book to attract? Are you writing fiction for stay-at-home moms looking to spice-up their daily routine? Are you writing Leadership materials for up-and-coming executives under 35 who are striving to build their career success? Know your target audience and get inside their heads.