Writing a book for business: Part II

Last time I discussed some things to bear in mind when embarking on writing and publishing your business book because you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you get the basics right. I covered talking to your printer before doing anything else and not trying to write and layout at the same time.

Using styles

I also introduced the idea of using your wordprocessor’s styles feature to apply formatting to text instead of instead of changing font or size from the menu. It’s easy to change the appearance of your document by altering the style definition and not having to search for every instance of formatting. It will also help whoever is laying out your masterpiece and minimise the time they spend importing and formatting the content. Styles also make it much quicker and easier to generate tables of contents.

There are a number of built-in styles in MS Word. Here are a few suggestions about ones you can use:

  • Heading 1 – chapter headings
  • Heading 2 – sub-headings
  • Emphasis – italics
  • Strong – Bold


If you’re going to have pictures in your book they’ll need to be decent ones and large enough to reproduce well in print. The printer will have told you what resolution is optimal for their printing press but a good rule of thumb is that pictures should be the width they are to be printed in cm x 120 pixels. A picture that is going to be printed 15cm wide will need to be at least 15×120 or 1800 pixels in width.

DIY layout

You should start the layout only when your text is perfect and you have talked to your printer and agreed on the appropriate file format. Some printers will accept a Microsoft Word file but it is VERY far from being the best option for laying out long documents. It does not allow you full control and text can often reflow and give unexpected results.

Using a wordprocessor for layout can be especially painful if you’re still making major text edits because the text can reflow throughout the document every time you shorten or lengthen a section. Go through your document, insert images and adjust your chapter heading and any other styles you’ve used until everything looks good to you.

Outsourcing layout

Do NOT insert pictures into your Word file. Give them to the layout person separately. You can minimise the amount of time they will take if you used styles for all your formatting and your text does need any major edits. The costs can spiral out of control if you haven’t used styles and the layout person has to keep searching through the document to change formatting or if you’re still making major edits.

Publishing your business book

You may be lucky enough to have a publisher willing to undertake the expense of publishing your business book for you but it isn’t essential. There are several options:

  • Vanity publishers: You pay them publish your business book for but you gain the benefit of their expertise in production and distribution.
  • Printer: You can approach a printer or, preferably, a print broker to quote on printing your book. You will generally have to order and pay for quite a number of copies to make it viable. This could be an option if you are going to handle distribution and you don’t mind tying up capital and have enough storage space.
  • Print on Demand: I have had fair success with this because you can order as few copies of your business book as you need. The manufacturing quality is pretty fair and won’t embarrass you when you’re showing the books off. They will normally give you a web page where you can offer your book for sale and, subject to conditions, include it on Amazon.com for you. Examples are www.lulu.com or www.blurb.com.

Legal deposit

You are required to submit copies of any Australian print or electronic publication to the National Library of Australia and the State Library of the state in which it is published. This is to ensure that they have a complete collection of everything published in the country. The process might sound like a pain but it’s easy to do and I found it satisfying to think that my work was part of a national collection.

More details:

  • National Library of Australia  https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit
  • State Library of Queensland   http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/publishers/legal-deposit


How you sell your book depends on whether you have a publisher and what deal you’ve agreed with them. There are a number of options if you’re doing the marketing yourself including online shopping pages provided by your print-on-demand service. Many of these will list your book on websites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble if it meets their requirements. One is usually that you have to purchase an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and include the barcode on the cover.

You can also sell it through your website which is fairly easy to implement with a simple PayPal ‘buy’ button. Other options include book stores (where you’ll lose a substantial portion of the profit) or in person at speaking engagements or events. Always keep a box of books in the boot of the car and pounce whenever the conversation comes round to your subject or to books and authorship in general. I sold quite a lot of copies of my book that way.  😉


Nobody is going to seek you out and buy your book if you do not put it where they can see it and explain the benefit of reading it. Some avenues include:

  • Your social media
  • Book displays at events and speaking engagements
  • Book displays in stores
  • Sell or gift it to libraries
  • Talk about it to people you meet in the course of business or while networking

Promote it in online and print media that your target audience is likely to encounter through:

  • Press release submissions
  • Guest posts on other people’s blogs
  • Guest appearances on radio, television or podcasts

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