Writing a book for business: Part I

Only a small number of authors ever manage to make a living writing but producing a book is still a good idea for many business people. That is because writing a book for business is a great way to publicise yourself if intellectual property is your stock in trade.

Add value to courses and lectures by selling your book or even giving it away. Only a tiny minority ever get as far as writing a book and it really impresses people when you show them the freshly printed fruits of your genius and it convinces them you know what you’re talking about. I experienced this after I wrote a book of historical snippets about Durban, my former hometown.

There was zero interest in me and my project while I talked the talk but that all changed as soon as I had a manuscript to show. The City Council took an interest and pre-ordered copies which paid for the printing. Community groups began to approach me to speak at their meetings when the book hit the streets; I became an authority overnight.

A customer bought the book soon after publication and asked me to autograph it. That was quite a change that some people now wanted my signature as a souvenir instead of just at the bottom of bills and forms.  I didn’t make a lot of money from writing a book but it did wonders for my status and self esteem.

Writing a book is good way to establish your credentials but there are a number of hurdles to cross. Chief among these is that the book’s content has to be well-written, error-free and contain information that will be of interest to the target audience. I won’t say too much more about content but I will highlight things to consider before starting a book project.

Talk to the printer first

I have laid-out quite a number of books for clients and I learned a great lesson from the experience. Talk to the printer before doing anything else and you  can save yourself a whole heap of trouble and unhappiness. The same applies to any print job because you need to establish the technical requirements for the file/s you create. It can end up being quite a list but you will ignore any detail on it at your peril. Never assume that they will be able to work from your manky old wordprocessor file.

The writing

Write first. Don’t worry about layout. Writing and layout are two different jobs needing two different thought spaces. This applies even if you’re doing the layout as well.

  • Use Microsoft Word or an equivalent and just write.
  • You can add footnotes and end notes to your text as you write.
  • Make a note if images and other illustrations are to be inserted.
  • Edit and refine until the text is perfect.
  • Get someone to check your text or put it away and come back to it later with fresh eyes.
  • Use Word’s styles panel to go through your text and designate chapter headings, subheadings and bold or italic text. Don’t worry what anything looks like. The look is easy to change if the text is properly styled.

In Part II, I’ll go into using styles and other things to consider when writing a book for business.

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