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How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

If content marketing is part of your business (or you want it to be) you probably already have a content marketing plan. You’ve probably already read a great deal about the concepts behind content marketing as a business strategy and the types of content you can (and should) use. You know you need to blog a lot, vlog a lot, tweet a lot, and generally spend an insane amount of time, effort, energy, and resources, creating content.

What you probably haven’t heard as much about is the use of books as part of your content marketing plan. Short freebies and guides, yes, but full length books? They tend to get overlooked. When you do think of them, there are a few things that will immediately put you off the idea:

I could never write a book.

It would take far too long to write a book.

Releasing a book would cost way too much money.

I don’t know how to find a publisher.

I’d never make my money back!

Sound familiar? These are all very common and perfectly understandable questions/concerns that I hear from clients all the time. Over the next few weeks in the run up to National Novel Writing Month in November, I will be blogging a lot about business books, how and why you should write one, and why November is the perfect time to do it.

How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

To kick everything off, here’s my ten step guide to making a business book part of your content marketing plan. Take a look, you’ll be surprised by the benefits!

Step One: Plan A Book

It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking your book can’t actually be part of your marketing strategy until it’s published.

This is wrong.

Very wrong.

Your new business book will form part of your content marketing plan from the moment you decide to do it. Scratch that, from the moment you think it might be a good idea. One of the key concepts that you have to wrap your head around very early on here is that you’re not writing the book you want to write. You can, but the odds are it won’t help your business. 

In order to do this, you need to find out what kind of business book your tribe needs. This means market research and planning. Take a look at other business books in your niche. Ask your tribe which business books they love, which authors they devour. Consider the topics that are very popular, and the topics that could be the next big thing. Ideally, you want to combine the two.

Try to find a subject you can write on with great authority, that your tribe have told you they would love, that straddles one extremely popular subject, and one little-known subject that could be the next big thing. If you’ve really niched down in your business, the odds are you’re already doing something that’s little-known but could be the next big thing.

Once you have your subject, test it. Survey your tribe and potential ideal clients. Find out if it’s something they really would be interested in. Get their opinions on titles, chapter topics, themes.

For example, the original title of my current WIP was When the Phoenix Dances, and the cover was one of the illustrations. I was very attached to both, but I surveyed my tribe and potential clients and they didn’t get it: they thought it looked more like a novel that a business book, and didn’t immediately understand what it was about.

In hindsight I should have realised this, but this is why you need an outside perspective! I changed the title and cover, based on feedback from my tribe.

When The Phoenix Dances: Soulful Selling for Female Entrepreneurs by Hazel Butler How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative by Hazel Butler How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

The final working title reached – with a lot of help from my tribe – is The Tao of Corporate Storytelling.

Rather different.

One was about me, and what I wanted the book to be, the other was about them, and what they needed the book to be. 

You should always work to what your readers need from your book, and not what you want from it.

Now plan your book according to that data (don’t worry, I’ll be doing a post on how to plan your book very soon!). 

Step Two: Take Your Readers On Your Writing Journey

Once you have your book planned, you need to start writing it. Whether you’re writing it as part of National Novel Writing Month over the course of November, or doing it in fits and starts as you’re able, keep your tribe updated. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter you will regularly see photos of me out and about with a notebook/laptop. Sometimes with a coffee in a café, other times down the pub with a pint, or at the beach. If you’re writing, your tribe needs to know about it!

  • Which bit are you working on?
  • Are you finding it easy or are you really struggling?
  • Do you have block? If so, how are you addressing it?
  • Are you really exacted to share a particular part of it with them?
  • Have you hit any mile stones – finished a chapter, reached the half way mark, finally figured out why a particular section wasn’t working?

Don’t forget to use the relevant hashtags when posting updates to drawn in new readers and grow your tribe even further. #AmWriting and #WritersRoad are good, but you need some specific to your ideal clients!

Step Three: Give Bits Of Your Book Away For Free

The sooner you start teasing your book, the better. There are many ways you can do this. The most effective are to pull quotes from your new book, create lovely, branded memes (like mine below), and share them on social media. 

HOW TO MAKE A BUSINESS BOOK PART OF YOUR CONTENT MARKETING PLAN Quotes From 'The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative, by Hazel Butler

Quotes From ‘The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative, by Hazel Butler

Share your little heart out. Use the literal writing process:

  • Your computer screen open on the document
  • Pages from your notebook
  • Index cards detailing sections and chapters of the book, laid out on the floor

And then shots of the later stages of the book’s progress:

  • The cover design and/or illustrations
  • The first draft, printed out and awaiting reading
  • Scribbles of red pen all over pages you’re editing
  • The proof copy once it arrives from the printers

The idea is to give your followers a sense of the book and what it is about long before it’s available. The real trick here is to prove the book’s value, and show them why the need to read the whole thing.

Hands down the best way to do this is to let them read the first chapter for free. You can very easily share a PDF of the draft of your first chapter as soon as you have it. 

Step Four: Build A Book List

Just as you build an email list for your business as a whole, you should be building a list of people interested in your new book. Start doing this as soon as you announce you are writing the book, don’t wait! There will always be people immediately interested. There will always be people who read the quotes you are sharing freely and want more. Make it easy for them! Include a description with each meme you share including the quote, details of the book it’s from (title, publication date if you know it yet) and a link to sign up to receive the first chapter for free as soon as it’s available.

You don’t have to have the first chapter ready to go when you start getting people on the list to receive it! At the time of penning this blog post, my first chapter of The Tao of Corporate Storytelling isn’t finalised yet. There’s still a very prominent page on the site where people can sign up, with buttons and links to it everywhere. By the time you publish you should have a list of people ready and waiting to BUY! 

Your book list should also be a section of your MAIN EMAIL LIST – a book is the biggest list builder you will EVER create, make sure you’re taking advantage of it from the start. Everyone signing up to your book list automatically gets added to your main list, to start receiving your newsletter.

Step Five: Write The BEST Book Possible

Many people make the mistake of thinking a business book doesn’t need to be earth shattering. That it can be a perfunctory thing created as a marketing tool and then forgotten about. That it doesn’t need to matter. While it’s true that your book will be an amazing marketing tool, it won’t work unless it’s a good book.

By ‘good’, I mean well planned, well structured, well written, thoroughly edited and proofread by a skilled professional, professionally formatted, has a top-notch, gorgeous cover and/or illustrations, and is published in a high-quality format. If you’re only publishing in electronic form, the latter part isn’t relevant, but if you’re publishing a paperback/hardback version you need to make sure the printing is first rate.

The reason for this is really simple: your book is a reflection of your business. If your book is crap, people will assume you are crap, your business is crap, and your other products and services are crap too. Conversely if your book is professional and fulfills a need, they will assume you are professional and can fulfill their needs, and that your business, products, and services, are something the NEED.

Your book is an investment. Don’t skimp on ANYTHING.

Step Six: Offer Advanced Reader Copies

Once you have your book in its final stages, when there is nothing left to do but the last proofread and checking the format for the final version, you can made advanced reader copies (ARCs) available. You can offer them exclusively to people already on your book list, or you can offer them to anyone interested and thus grow your book list still further. There are merits to both approaches: one rewards those who have already shown interest, and gives you an extra hook to get people to sign up to the list from the start; the other gives you a massive competition to run across all your platforms ahead of the book launch, raising the profile of the launch. 

Don’t give away the farm. Decide on a set number of copies. It’s easy to stick to a small number to make them even more valuable, but bear in mind that one of the main reasons for giving away ARCs is to get REVIEWS of your book ahead of your launch. Only about one in ten people who read your book will actually review it (excluding friends and family, who generally feel compelled). If you want lots of reviews ahead of time, you need to get the book out to a reasonable number of people. Hard copies will cost you money to print and post. You need to factor in the costs when you’re deciding how many you will offer.

If you’re offering them to your list exclusively, select names at random until all copies are allocated. If you’re running a competition, make sure you promote it everywhere for a reasonable length of time.

You should also approach professionals in your field and specifically request that they review your book in advance of the launch. This will give you exposure to a wider audience who are likely to be interested in your book, and give you quotes to use on the cover, in the front matter, on any promotional materials, and during the launch.

Step Seven: Launch Like You Mean It

Launch your book with as much passion and fanfare as you can muster. If you have kept your costs very low, and have a huge following, you might break even. If you don’t, don’t let it get you down. It doesn’t mean the project will never break even, it’s just the nature of publishing. 

Your eventual goal for the book should be that it provides you with consistent passive income. But that’s your end game. Your main goal here is to make your book a part of your content marketing plan, and use it to market your business.

Consider how much money you would spend on an advertising campaign to generate the amount of attention and leads your book has already created. And that’s before it has even been published! A few key things you will experience leading up to and during the launch of your book (if you’ve followed this plan!):

  • A surge in your social media following
  • A massive increase in your list
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • An uptake in inquiries and sales 

And that’s before you’ve sold a single copy. So buck up, this isn’t about making green – that’s the gravy, baby!

Pour your heart and soul into launching your book and make the most you can out of it from a marketing perspective. This is a HUGE opportunity massively to grow your tribe with a single campaign. Don’t waste it!

Step Eight: Quote, Reference, Mention, Repeat

Now you’re a bona fide author, for the love of god, milk it! Quote your book, reference your book, mention your book at every available opportunity and in every relevant blog post. Don’t shove it down people’s throats when they’re not looking at something directly related. If you’ve chosen the right topic, you will be able to talk about lots in a natural way.

Step Nine: Give Your Book Away

You already ran one competition to give away ARCs. Wait six months to a year and run another, this time with the final copies available. This works well if you’ve sold lots of eBooks but few hard copies (which is totally normal!). People who love the eBook will want the hard copy, people who’ve never read it will just want a copy.

Also, take advantage of that wonderful boon every author embraces: SWAG!

Bookmarks, key chains, post cards, posters, business cards, mugs, notebooks… Even cushions and other home wear items can all bear elements of your book. Whether it’s quotes, the cover, or the illustrations, it doesn’t matter. Sell the high-end items, give away the cheap options in spades. Imagine pens with your name, business logo, and a quote from your book, nestling in the handbag of every woman in your tribe.

How many of those women do you think will turn into paying clients one day?

Step Ten: Write Another Book

I know, I know, you hate me for saying it. It’s so much work, stressful, expensive and so rewarding. Better, it will give your business a massive boost, not just now but for years to come.

Do it all again…

How To Write Your Way To The Head Of The Pack

There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, and that’s fabulous. What’s not so great is that the awesomeness of entrepreneurship is hardly a secret. The freedom and success it can bring have made competition fiercer than ever.

Every industry has a pack of hungry wolves fighting over the same territory.

When you’re in business, the name of the game is establishing yourself as the head of the pack.

The alpha.

There’s an old expression, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. Speaking as a girl who has a lot of pens, and a lot of swords, I can safely say I’ve achieved far more with the former than the latter. (Unless having badass wall hangings counts as a great achievement!)

But the premise goes a little deeper than that, and it’s particularly apt for marketing.

You can (and should!) write your way to the head of the pack.

But with everyone and her wife branding themselves ‘experts’, that’s easier said than done.

Exactly how do you use writing to establish your expertise and claim the coveted spot as pack alpha?

Here’s how to cut through all that digital noise and demonstrate that your knowledge and industry savvy is more valuable than everyone else’s…

Write, Write, And Write Some More

Bona fide experts with multiple degrees and years of experience in their fields still start at zero when it comes to building an online reputation.

It’s an uncertain journey from online noob to highly successful digital expert and it can be long.

Writing is an incredibly powerful way of establishing that expertise but it’s not a quick fix.

You have to write a lot.

It takes time to develop your voice and style as a writer, and learn how best to create the type of content that catapults you to the forefront of your niche.

And it takes time for your writing to gain traction online. It’s not something that’s achieved writing bits here and there, or giving up after a month or two.

You need to write, write, write some more, and when you think you’ve hit your limit and you can’t possibly face any more content creation, you have to keep writing.

It’s not quite as simple as that (you have to write with purpose and have an effective strategy in place!), but writing your way to the head of the pack, becoming the go-to expert in your niche, and establishing yourself as a credible professional really boils down to this:

Just write.

Own Your Expertise

While writing and content creation play a pivotal role in establishing your expertise there is also a crucial mindset shift you really need to develop as quickly as possible.

One way to do this is to literally refer to yourself as an expert in your niche.

Not everyone is comfortable with doing that, and it can sound a little arrogant, pretentious, or egotistical.

There’s another old adage: show don’t tell.

Don’t tell people you’re an expert, show them through the amazing content you create. Demonstrate it with every word your write. And allude to it by writing yourself a killer tagline, one that perfectly encapsulates your knowledge, understanding, unique talent, and the fact you are a standout leader in your niche.

For example, here’s mine:

Hazel is a freelance writer and content marketer helping fabulous entrepreneurs build dedicated tribes of ideal clients. Hazel is also an Urban Fantasy author, Huffington Post blogger, and editor at Sci-Fi Fantasy Network.

Here’s The Write Copy Girl tagline:

The kick-ass copywriting service every ambitious female entrepreneur needs to grow a dedicated tribe addicted to their passion and products.

I don’t use the word ‘expert’ anywhere in either. I don’t need to. It would actually be far less effective if I described myself as a ‘content marketing expert’, a ‘copywriting expert’ or (and it actually makes me slightly nauseated typing it) an ‘expert writer’.

The word ‘expert’ is used entirely too liberally.

Hear a word often enough it stops sounding like a real thing. Instead it sounds fake, and vaguely sinister.

If you have to call yourself an alpha to ensure people know you’re the head of the pack, you’re not genuinely the top wolf.

Wolves lead by doing, not speaking.

Wolves don’t get to be alpha by howling the loudest, they simply lead.

Actions, not words.

This may sound rather odd when I’m telling you to do this thing by writing and using your words, but there’s a huge difference between writing like an expert, and repeatedly telling people in your writing that you are an expert.

One positions you as a leader because you are leading.

The other is just howling at the moon.

And there’s nothing new about that.

Find Your Passion, Write For Your Ideal Client

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is ‘What should I write about?’

While that’s a really good question, it’s not nearly as important as figuring out who you’re writing for.

You’re looking to establish yourself as the head of your pack, the leader of your tribe. You can’t do that until you know exactly who the other wolves are…

That means knowing your audience, and by extension your competition. Figuring out exactly who your ideal client is will not only ensure you end up leading the right pack (by which I mean niche), and working with the people you genuinely want to work with (it’s a lot easier to get this wrong than you might think!), but it will also answer the question of what to write.

Before you can figure out who you’re writing for, you need to understand exactly what you’re doing. If you don’t already have a business, make sure you design your business model so that you’re working directly in your zone of genius and making your passion your paycheck.

If you have an established business, this is hopefully already the case, but if it isn’t, don’t be afraid to shift your direction slightly in order to position yourself more firmly in line with your true passions.

For example, in 2016 I felt totally stuck in my business. I asked myself three questions:

“What do I want to do all day?”

“Where have I achieved great results by doing that?”

“Who is in a position to consistently pay me to do that?”

The answer turned out to be easy, and I completely rebranded and launched The Write Copy Girl so I could focus on writing.

Just writing, because that is my passion.

I specifically focused on offering blogging and content marketing services, because I’d got great results for my clients with those already.

Once I made that shift, the question of my ideal client solved itself: I’d work predominantly with female entrepreneurs who were either ready to handle their content marketing like a boss and hire someone to do everything for them, or take an online course and learn how to do it all themselves.

Ask yourself these questions and you will have a basic understanding of your ideal client.

Once you know exactly what you’re doing and who you want to work with, you need to crawl inside their heads. Figure out what makes them tick, what they want, what they need, and where your particular talents, passions and expertise overlap with those things.

That’s what you write about.

Your ideal client should be the heart of your content marketing strategy; they should dictate what you write, when, and how frequently.

Develop A Goal-Driven Content Marketing Strategy

So, now you know you have to keep writing, and that you have to be writing for your ideal client. But what exactly are you supposed to write?

You’re going to be writing about the stuff your ideal client cares about and desperately want to read, but what form should that writing take?

It’s easier than ever to get your content out there, and the multi-media nature of digital marketing means there is a huge range of choice here. The go-to for establishing your expertise through writing is to start blogging.

You should definitely do that.

But there are loads of other forms of content that you can create.

The most important thing to do is ensure you’re not just banging out blog posts and other content without purpose. You need a goal-driven content marketing strategy.

When I first started out I didn’t have this key part of the puzzle in place. Despite spending a massive amount of time writing I had very little to show for it. After a couple of years of fumbling about in the dark I finally wised up. I dedicated myself to figuring out the perfect content marketing strategy to propel me to the head of the pack of ravenous wolves (aka entrepreneurs) loitering in the digitalverse, helping other entrepreneurs desperate to lead their own tribes.

Network Like A Ninja

All this writing isn’t going to do you a great deal of good if nobody reads it. The single biggest lie in marketing is the notion that ‘if you build it, they will come’ (I call this The Cornfield Paradox).

While social media marketing and email marketing go a long way towards spreading your content, and paid advertising is always an option, networking is essential.

Forging strong networks, through personal interactions, in relevant groups and communities (both online and in-person) will spread your content further and faster.

It will also, crucially, give you ample opportunities to further demonstrate your expertise.

People naturally ask questions. They need things, want things, and both need and want to understand things. How to make something work, how to achieve something, how to do something better, simpler, more efficiently, for less money. How to be more successful.

They also crave simple human contact, friendship, kindness.

While static content (content created, published and distributed) can offer the former, the latter can only come from personal interactions. Building real relationships with people is time-consuming, and generally can’t be easily outsourced, but it’s really worth the effort.

Here are a few easy steps to help you demonstrate your expertise while forging genuine relationships:

  1. Join key groups full of your ideal clients and regularly share your content with them in the appropriate threads each week (check the group rules and stick to them!). Spend some time looking at the content other people have shared. If something genuinely interests you, click through to their site and comment directly on their post, then let them know in the group that you liked their stuff and have left a comment.
  2. When someone asks a question and it’s in your wheelhouse give a genuine and personal answer – take a little time with it, don’t just copy and paste a link, existing text, or send them to your website.
  3. Wait for people to ask for a link to your site before you give them one.
  4. Ask your own questions – groups of this nature are often full of a really diverse range of people. Be a little vulnerable and give other people the opportunity to share their own skills (you’ll learn a ton in the process!).
  5. Post your latest promotions in designated threads, and again, take the time to check out other people’s stuff.
  6. Take advantage of opportunities to get involved in live events, showcases, or times when the group owner/admin needs one of the members to take over management or contribute their own content. Offer to collaborate with them in order to provide their group with a load of great content and insights – it’s great for their engagement levels, and perfect for getting you in front of the right people.
  7. Show up without agenda. If the only time you participate in groups is to share links to your content or promotions, you’re not building relationships with anyone. Show up in the groups just to say hi, share a win, tell a funny story that the other members will relate to, or simple scroll through other people’s posts and join in the discussion.
  8. Don’t think of it as selling. It’s not, it’s building relationships. The less you think of networking as selling, the better.

Networking is time consuming, there’s no getting around that. There’s a lot you can do on social media that’s automated and scheduled. You can also outsource a load of it to an assistant, content marketer, or social media manager, but there are some things you just have to do yourself, in real-time. Networking is one of them.

The good news is, as your business develops and grows and you become more widely known, people will start coming to you.

If you don’t want to spend all your time trawling through other people’s groups, start your own and begin building your own dedicated community. You can grow your own thriving community, and rather than spending so much time in other people’s networks, you can focus on engaging with and growing your own.

Write A Book

When it comes to establishing yourself as an industry leader and an authority in your niche, nothing does it better than a book.

There are loads of great benefits to writing a business book, and if you’re already writing a lot of content it’s often a lot easier than you think. When you’ve been consistently producing content on core topics for a year or more you’ll find you’ve amassed a lot relating to the same subjects.

Collate them, edit them, add a fresh perspective or twist, and expand on some of the best points. Look at your content stats on Google Analytics and social media and identify the specific points and topics that proved most popular. Focus on those.

It will not only do wonders for your content marketing (and marketing efforts as a whole), but will propel you to the head of your niche’s pack.

Self-publishing has made it easier than ever to step up and become an author. Books enable you to attract media attention, dazzle your prospects and potential clients, and can even lead to speaking gigs.

A book is also a great way to showcase your signature services and methods, earn passive income, and create an incredibly powerful lead-magnet that directly ties into those services and any paid courses or coaching you might have, or plan to launch.

Be The Weird Fish

The hardest part of establishing yourself as a thought-leader and expert is finding a way to stand out. The digital world is incredibly full. The amount of content produced on a daily basis is excessive, and you can guarantee that whatever you have to say about your industry, it’s been said before.

Multiple times.

By people with bigger audiences, greater reach, and more to spend on advertising than you have.

The newer your voice is to the crowd, the harder it is to be heard. Even established industry experts can struggle to stand out.

But you don’t need to be the biggest fish, you just need to be the most interesting.

Be the weird fish.

Do things your way, say things your way. Use your words to express yourself and all that fabulous knowledge and wisdom in a seriously interesting way.

Adding a little controversy to your opinions is a great way of ensuring you stand out.

Don’t box yourself into regurgitating the opinions and methods of other people. Think outside the box, look at things differently, develop your own unique ways of doing thing.

And if all else fails, and you have to say something that’s been said a million times before, find a way of saying it that’s completely unique, memorable, and genuinely interesting.

Tell Stories

One way of doing this is to use storytelling in your writing. Storytelling is phenomenally powerful. Working personal and professional stories into your content, as well as familiar narratives from pop culture, will help your readers relate to you, and what you do.

It will also make your take on the subject completely unique. Even if you’re essentially parroting what other experts have said before, you’re placing it in a different context and explaining it in a new way.

Stories also shows that, even if you agree with what other people think about a subject, you aren’t simply repeating what others have said.

You understand it and connect that understanding to all areas of your life.

In other words, you know your niche so well that normal, mundane, everyday situations remind you of it.

You’re capable of taking lessons from real-world situations, film, television, books, the media, and anywhere else imaginable, and directly applying them to your zone of genius.

Be Consistent And Patient

If you’re thinking this all sounds like a massive amount of work, you’re not wrong.

Writing isn’t a quick fix for your online profile, an instant boost to your status, or an easy way of making you stand out as an expert. It can be incredibly effective, but it requires two things in abundance: patience and consistency.

You may not have the time for that, or the inclination. If you hate writing, really suck at it, or just have a million other things to do and can’t afford to make it a priority, don’t worry – that’s what ghost writers are for!

Whether you’re looking to establish yourself as a leader in your niche and work your way to the head of the pack through content marketing, or desperately dreaming of becoming a published author and want to release a book, I can help. Book a discovery call now to talk to me about my content marketing services, and how I can help you become the alpha of your niche.

And the best part? Nobody will ever know it was me.

Using National Novel Writing Month To Write A Business Book!

My favourite month of the year is close at hand, and it might surprise you. November, or National Novel Writing Month, as it’s known to myself and many writers world wide, is the one month in the year I really indulge myself. It’s a great time to get writing, work on your fiction, OR (if you happen to be an entrepreneur) to write a business book. Using National Novel Writing Month to write a business book is the best idea you’ve ever had! Here’s why…

During November, I write.

This isn’t new, I write every month. I write every day. But in November I write for myself – whatever novel is swirling around my head, whatever story is itching to bleed out through my tapping, typing fingers, I let it. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or simply NaNo for short) is a time of blissful indulgence and mild insanity for me. Writing a full book in a single month, especially when you have a full time job to deal with, is no easy feat. 

If you’re a business woman, however, it’s the perfect time to write the business book you’ve been dying to pen. 

Why Write a Business Book?

That’s a blog post in itself, and one I’ve already written over on The Huffington Post, so do check that out.

Can You Write a Non-Fiction Book for NaNo?

Yes. Despite the use of ‘novel’ in the name, NaNo is a time for writing a new book, period. It doesn’t matter if it’s a work of epic Fantasy (as my NaNo projects tend to be) or a non-fiction book to help you market your business and earn some passive income.

What Exactly Is NaNo?

For the month of November, those of us inclined towards writing feverishly, spend thirty days doing our best to complete an entire book in the space of a single month.

It Sounds Like A Lot of Crazy Hard Work…Is It Worth It?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer goes something like this…

Writers all around the world come together in an incredibly supportive, creative community, both online and in real life, to write. We write our little hearts out. It’s quite a competitive environment, with many people trying to write as many words in a day as possible. It’s great fun, and also makes you insanely productive. The support of the community, the desire to WIN, the urge to hit your word count goals, and the fact you are a member of a region, which is itself competing with the rest of the world, all adds up to a lot of incentive to write. Not only do you want to do well yourself, you want your region, and your writing buddies to do well too.

It’s a very social affair and you will make a bucket load of new friends.

More than that, the writing process itself is very therapeutic. I’ve written a lot before about the benefits of writing for your mental health, and NaNo is no different. You get to spend a lot of time doing something for you.

You might be sat there thinking, “But, it’s for my business, it’s work!”, and you’re absolutely right, it is. But it’s also for you! It’s impossible to write a book and not get a great deal from it, personally, even if it is ‘just’ a business book:

  • It will boost your business.
  • It will boost your confidence in your abilities.
  • It will allow you to add ‘author’ to your resume (and believe me, that’s a major ego trip!).
  • It will introduce you to a whole world of new and interesting people you would never meet otherwise.
  • It will get you out of the home office and into places filled with real people, warmth, and friendly banter, just as winter is setting in and you’re about to lose the will to live. Do not underestimate this one.

What Do You Have To Do To Win NaNoWriMo?

You need to complete a book. By ‘complete a book’ I mean finish a first draft. There is no way in hell you can write, edit, polish, and produce a full length book (fiction or non) in 30 days. Not if you want it to be good at least, and we want it to be good!

Technically speaking the only thing you have to do to ‘win’ NaNo is write 50,000 words. I know, it sounds like A LOT, but when you break it down it’s actually only 1,666 words a day. That’s the length of a decent blog post. In that sense, participating in NaNo is the equivalent of committing to writing one blog post a day, for 30 days. Except it’s so much better, because at the end of the month, instead of having 30 random blog posts, you actually have a bona fide book to play with.

There are two ways to look at NaNo: it’s either a competition to see who can write 50,000 words (or as many words as possible) in 30 days, or it’s an opportunity to make real progress on a fully fledged book.

Your goal is either to write a lot of words, or write the first draft of a book.

Why 50,000 words?

The original intention of National Novel Writing Month was to encourage people to do the latter. The 50,000 word minimum requirement for ‘winning’ was a way of defining, in a reasonable manner, what constituted a finished novel. The notion being that anything under 50K wasn’t long enough to be a full-length book. Unfortunately, this changed the nature of the beast somewhat. Many people consider their projects finished as soon as they hit 50K, regardless of whether or not they’ve finished the draft of their book. Unfortunately, many then abandon the project and never make anything of it.

This is not what you will do. You are not aiming for 50,000 words, you are aiming for a finished draft of a business book.

I advocate the use of National Novel Writing Month to do this because it’s an organised event with a community and a lot of support for you, as a writer. This is extremely important, especially to keeping going. NaNo keeps you motivated, and ensures you just get on with it. It cuts through the procrastination and faffing about. You might not need 50,000 words for your business book, but having worked with a lot of women writing books for their business, in my experience a good business book – i.e. not a collection of blog posts that have been re-purposed, but an actual book with a theme, narrative, and specific intention – takes around 40-70K. 

That seems to be the average, if ‘average’ can really be applied to a thirty thousand word margin.

The reason it’s such a wide difference is because the length of your book will depend greatly on several things:

  • The format – for example, a book of tips is, by nature, far fewer in words than a book structured with chapters of long prose.
  • The subject – some subjects require a lot of explanation, technical details, or case studies and examples, others don’t.
  • Image content – if your book is largely image based (such as a photography book), the words needed will be considerably fewer.
  • Costs – the longer your book is, the more expensive it is to produce, print, and distribute. Don’t be fooled into thinking this doesn’t apply to eBooks, it does. You still have to edit, proofread, and format them – that’s all priced by the word!
  • Your writing ability – you may not have the knack for saying things succinctly. You may be inclined to indulge in purple prose (flowery, elaborate language). You may really like to go on, or you might like to get the whole thing over and done with as quickly as possible. 
  • Your audience – some audiences require more or less words. Young children for example can’t deal with wordy books. Educations books and text books by nature require a lot more words because they are instructional. Guides and ‘How To’ books are often similarly long, for the same reason – their aim is to educate. That requires words!

Don’t be put off by the 50K goal. That’s all it is, a goal. If you don’t need 50,000 words to finish your draft, you may not technically have won NaNo, but you have still won – you finished your book! That’s a HUGE achievement!

Likewise if your book needs more words, 50K isn’t the finish line, it’s just a pit stop.

In Conclusion…

National Novel Writing Month is the perfect time to write a book for your business. There is a massive community of writers on hand and eager to help you. There is a lot of information available on the NaNo website, as well a ridiculous number of blog posts – just like this one – getting published to tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. At no other time of the year will you have as much support in writing a book as you will in November!

Just imagine yourself, sitting at your computer on December 1st, staring at the complete draft of your book, you BABY, and thinking, “Damn, I actually did it! I’m an author!”

I promise you, nothing beats that feeling. You will feel accomplished, proud, and a little astonished that you were able to do something that seemed (at one stage) impossible. You will also have a lot to show for your efforts. Writing and publishing a business book is a huge undertaking and an incredible achievement, but the hardest part is writing the first draft. Once you have that draft, everything gets easier.

So, take the rest of this month to prepare, and set your intention to write that biz book next month!

Keep an eye out for a behind the scenes video that will be coming out shortly, showing my own NaNo prep. I will also be making available to you some exclusive planners to help you prepare!

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