Before you get too wrapped up in writing your next book, get focused. It starts with a business plan.
“The most common mistake I see,” says bestselling author David Dye, president of Let’s Grow Leaders, “is that authors start writing without a plan. If you’re writing to explore your thoughts, that’s good. If you’re writing to sell your work, you want to think through your ideal buyer and reader.”
“Know Your Jennifer”
How do you do that? “Know your Jennifer.”
“The idea behind “Know your Jennifer” is that you pick a specific person who embodies your ideal reader and then write to them. Create a list of their goals and their problems. Use these key desires to construct your outline.”
Then build your platform and your marketing plan. Identify your market and your competitors. Create ways to stand out from them.
“What will your work say that differs with conventional wisdom or extends it? How does your book figure into your larger business ecosystem, if you have one? Is it a credibility builder? A platform to sell keynote speaking and training or coaching? Or maybe you’re using it to sell other resources like a workbook?”
Elements of a Sample Business Plan Outline
Dye includes the following elements in his sample business plan outline:
- Testimonial quotes and videos: Compile them from book readers, conference attendees, clients, and anyone else who benefited from your words and actions (see “Locating Experts and Celebrities to Write Your Foreword and Testimonials”; “Asking Them”; and “If They Don’t Get Back”).
- Executive summary: An overview of the complete document so someone reading just this part can get a good feel for the rest. What will readers get from your book? How will it help them?
- Summary of main text: Include your anticipated page length and number of chapters. If you’re writing a proposal, this section will give them a feel for your writing. It is an energetic, attention-grabbing introduction to the topic that sets the stage and then walks them through what they’ll get in this book.
- The market: Who is your ideal reader? Who cares about your book enough to buy copies or hear you speak? Where will you be able to round up some quantity sales? Who is your competition?
- The author: Why are you qualified to write this book? What have you accomplished that gives you credibility?
- Author’s platform and marketing plan: Include favored social media networks, email strategy, personal appearances and speeches, public relations plans, strategy for free and paid ads, and any other ways that will help you sell books. Which services will you purchase? Which can you handle yourself?
- Book outline and sample chapters: These elements are most important if you’re preparing a package to send to a prospective publisher. Title your chapters with benefit statements that your ideal reader will find irresistible.
It All Begins with a Business Plan
As you build your business plan, clarity emerges, then direction, then action, then connections. If you’re selling your book to a publisher, it’s your best advertisement.
According to Dye, “Even when self-publishing, a good business plan with a clear customer will keep you focused and moving when you get stuck or feel writer’s block sneaking up on you. What problem does your customer have? How can you help them solve it?”
So who is your Jennifer?
* * *
This piece was adapted from Ken Wachsberger’s You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You. Ken’s other books may be found here and here. For book coaching and editing help, or to invite Ken to speak at your meeting, email Ken at [email protected].
Schedule your complimentary 30-minute coaching and editing session now.