What Does Writing a Business Book That Sells Look Like?


Make money!!!

Gain corporate power!!!

Look good at work to make more money and/or gain corporate power!!!

Those are the appeals that business books offer. So naturally then, those are the appeals you have to offer if you’re writing a business book.

But before you start typing out those promises (complete with exclamation marks), you should have a basic understanding of the marketing world.

This begins with the recognition that “Make money!!!” schemes are a dime a dozen.

So what makes yours so special?

Once upon a time, I used to work for a place called The #@*!# Club, a financial publishing company that sold investing advice through newsletters and e-letters.

The #@*!# Club did offer some legitimate portfolios and picks. And it did most definitely pad some people’s pockets along the way. But that wasn’t its main goal.

Its main goal was to pad its own pockets with really scammy marketing tactics.

Now, I’m all about making a buck. But it has to be an honest buck, where you’re giving your customers the same amount of value they’re giving you.

The #@*!# Club didn’t agree. It was perfectly fine running ads like:

  • How I Went From Working Class to First Class in 1 Year!

  • Make 5,000% on This Once-in-a-Lifetime, Gold-Plated Stock!

  • Your Perfectly Laid Path to Making Millions on the Upcoming Energy Boom

I can’t recall a single one of those particular stocks that didn’t stagnate or tank, a horrid track record The #@*!# Club was well aware of. Yet considering how it wasn't anywhere close to being alone in its marketing choices, I guess that’s just financial biz for you.

Unfortunately, it's a biz that automatically cheapens your marketing efforts if you’re writing a business book. While some people will inevitably fall for it, most won’t. They’re too jaded by all the other pie-in-the-sky promises out there.

That’s why you and your business book need an edge.

Ever heard of Evan Carmichael?

He came up with the idea of writing a business book called Your One Word: The Powerful Secret to Creating a Business and Life That Matter.

It’s based around the notion of finding one word to define what personal and business legacy you want to leave behind. As far as I know, nobody else offers that kind of approach to building a business.

(Though, for the record, you need a lot more than “one word” to make a business work.)

Or how about Jeff Goins’ community-specific Real Artists Don’t Starve? Really, it’s a pointless read that does nothing but offer long-shot ways of implementing pompous advice… the exact kind of thing discussed in Thursday’s business book Writing Challenge.

Yet flipping the starving artist concept on its head and writing a business book about it? That’s quite the novel idea. So while you shouldn’t bother buying it, you should take note of the title.

Have an original angle.

You’re more than welcome to write a business book that doesn’t say anything new. But it’s probably not going to attract any literary agents or too many readers. Not unless you’re Steve Jobs (who’s dead) or Warren Buffett (who doesn’t practice what he preaches).

Assuming that you don’t have a household name to bank on, analyze what you do have: your business model. What’s so special about it? What makes it work? What do you have that nobody else does?

It might be age-old wisdom you’re selling. That’s fine. But there’s always a new way to spin it.

Find that angle, and make writing a business book – your business book – happen.

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