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Write the Book On It

How many times have you heard someone say “I don’t need help with _______!  I wrote the book on it!”  Most often the “topic” is some sort of social activity, but an article I came across today insists that, as a businessperson,  writing a “good book” related to your field can be a huge help to you and your business.  Just check it out on the Forbes website.   Please note the author’s definition of “good book” means:

well-written (grammatically and syntactically correct, with complete sentences and understandable, appropriate vocabulary); contains clearly stated, useful ideas; and is engaging – meaning readers will be drawn in and interested, vs. bored and confused.

Focus on that last part of interested, vs. bored and confused.

In my opinion, all books—no matter what the subject matter or purpose—need to be somewhat entertaining.  Otherwise, why write?  If you can’t hold an audience’s attention, you’re never going to get your message heard.  And if you’re writing a “for dummies” type book, you don’t want to overload your reader with industry-specific jargon (keep in mind the jargon will be needed, but define the term early and use it consistently and correctly – especially if it’s an important one!).  My greatest example is this: my husband trades foreign currencies (I usually say “he trades forex”).  If I tell you “he trades forex” your question to me would probably be“what’s forex?” (assuming you didn’t know).  If I were to write a book about my family or my husband specifically, this would definitely be a part of it, and I would tell you up front what “he trades forex” means.

Remember: be truthful.  The book will be like an extension of your résumé.  When you lie on your résumé, you get fired almost as quickly as you got hired when it comes to light that you can’t do what you said you could.  A business book doesn’t have to be a step-by-step of how you built your business from the ground up, but don’t over exaggerate how hard (or not) you had to work to start things up.  Also remember to give credit where credit is due.  If you got your start up costs through inheritance, don’t say you scrimped and saved and lived on Ramen Noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to try to win the sympathies of your audience so hopefully they’ll keep reading.

Don’t be intimidated by the “blank page”.  It’s something even professional writers hate, but it’s easy to overcome.  Brainstorm a few ideas on a notepad so you have some springboards when you sit down at the keyboard.  What kind of book do you want this to be?  Informative?  Funny?  Serious?  Do you dream of bookstore shelves or college classrooms?

Finally, keep in mind that this writing thing (probably) isn’t what your business is about, so don’t put too much pressure to be good right out of the gate.  I’ve backspaced, deleted and otherwise edited just this post too much to even want to be curious about what it might have looked like if I’d just kept on writing without editing.  If you find out writing isn’t going to be your cup of tea, don’t stress.  That’s where I can help!

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